Then Saturday Comes… the half decent football blog

Defending Villa’s European crusades and Benny ‘iPod’ Foster
March 4, 2009, 10:05 pm
Filed under: Mat Reville's Football Blog

Gabby got very and started panicking about ghosts

"This time next year we'll be millionaires!"

"This time next year we'll (still) be millionaires!"

The EUROPA League Race Hots Up

Much lauded for being one of the league’s most prudent managers, Martin O’Neill is starting to get a bit of flack recently.  The same boss who gave up his entire season to chase a European dream via the Intertoto cup has now sacked off that campaign to galavant after another; the Champion’s League.

Mr. Martin dropped all his first team squad for the trip to CSKA Moscow so they could be fresh for Premiership matches with Stoke and Manchester City.  However, it all seems to have backfired somewhat after they were not only KOd from Europe, but they bagged just 1 point from those two very winnable games.

The football media’s more staid characters are churling out cliches, spitting out how ‘Villa have got what they deserve for their arrogant team selection’ in between gulps of Pino Grigo wine at Jimmy Hill’s Sunday Supplement.  But for my money, O’Neill has not done nothing wrong.

We are told that O’Neill chose to roll over against CSKA Moscow in such a manner which suggests that if Villa played a full-strength team, they would be guaranteed qualification.  A team with England internationals Agbonlahor, Young and Barry is sure to beat these Russian chaps, according to our arrogant media.

This despite the obvious facts that CSKA outplayed that same much lauded first team squad at Villa Park.  Which isn’t too surprising when you consider they include many Russian first teamers who qualified over the England team Villa’s golden trio sit on the bench for.

True, they would have stood a better chance of qualification (especially due to their excellent away record), but O’Neill is obviously an astute manager and he knows that chances like the one presented to them in the league this season do not come around often, and they would be morons not to try to make the most of it.

They are the first club since Spurs three years ago to really threaten to break into the top four.  Look what happened after Spurs fell away at the end of the season; they drooped into a lower mid-table obscurity they have yet to recover from.

Martin will be hoping for a more glamorous European holiday next season

Martin will be hoping for a more glamorous European holiday next season

O’Neill knows that tonight’s conquerers Manchester City will also be looking to break into those Champion’s League spots next season, and Arsenal are sure to be stronger next year.  This could be Villa’s only chance to break through.

Anyone with common sense would agree with O’Neill’s decision to gamble in Moscow.

Sadly (for non-Arsenal fans), it looks like that gamble may not pay off.  The amiable youthful enthusiasm has since been replaced by anxious performances in the league.  You sense the pressure has increased on them, and the media have singled them out as a target.

Is the reason because they slapped the UEFA Cup they once so coveted in the face?  In my opinion it has nothing to do with that.  ‘Appy ‘Arry Redknapp did the same thing, and he’s still Fleet Street’s darling.

Of course, we all know the real reason.  For all their critiques, the mainstream press is very partial to the ‘Big Four’ to retain their position of strength.  They have the most slickly run press offices and have the biggest followings (therefore shifting the most copies).

Finally, there is also the problem that most football journalists seem to be completely aghast at the prospect of change.  Aston Villa’s focused attempt to usurp one of the Champion’s League spaces should be supported and promoted to other teams, rather than mocked as if O’Neill is some sort of a moron chasing an unattainable dream.

Sadly though, it looks pretty likely that a mediocre and uninterested Arsenal team will pick up enough steam in the closing stages of the season to quailfy for the Champion’s League.  When Manchester City finally break into the top four, the only conclusion will be that teams can only do so by buying lots of foreign superstars for top dollar.

The latest in goalkeeper's accessories

The latest in goalkeeper's accessories

2.  iPens

Ben Foster was the hero of the day as Manchester United sneaked in to win their first trophy of the season.  Sure, it won’t even register with many of the glory-hunting monkeys that ‘support’ the Champions, but the win on penalties may usher in a new common sense approach to preparing for penalties.

The Red Devils’ Number 2/3 not only studied where Spurs players take their penalties, but he got a mp3 made and then put it on his iPod.  As he saw each player coming up to take a penalty, he looked at the iPod to see where they usually hit their spot kicks.

Lo and behold, he went the right way for 3/4 of the pens and only conceded once.

Thankfully for Foster, he was watching Bentley’s spot-kicks rather than his much lauded rooftop dink into skips.  Maybe if the incredibly hateable Bentley spent more time playing football and less time messing about on YouTube (and generally acting like Duncan from Blue) he wouldn’t have sliced his shot wide.

As an aside, Stephen Taylor just punched Christiano Ronaldo.  What an absolute scumbag.  Definite red card.

Other beverages are available

Other beverages are available

Anyway, getting back to Ben Foster, good on him for having the common sense to use his iPod to win a penalty shoot-out.  I also presume the videos were not of matches (how many players take a spot-kick in a season), so I can only hope one of the Manchester United coaches was filming at Spurs in a Perez Hilton-type fashion.

Naturally, Media ‘Appy ‘Arry wouldn’t bother to ask anyone with a camera to leave, and most likely would choose to swear at some unsuspecting youth players to carry on his ‘loveable uncle’ act.Still, it was good to see someone playing in a team between two particularly loathesome teams using a bit of common sense, fresh thinking and being justly rewarded.

Viva Ben Foster!

Incidentally, Stephen Taylor just messed up for the Manchester United winner.  Good thing he wasn’t sent off, as the thuggish moron got what he deserved in the end.


2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

top blog!!

Comment by Jay Dee

Can’t watch penalties on an mp3, it’s mp4.

And it’s Pinot grigio.

Sorry. I’m bored at work.

Comment by Totto

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