Soapbox: Villa(ins) of the piece


It’s perhaps too early to panic, but there is no mistaking the gloom that has descended on the Stadium of Light. If losing 2-0 to a buoyant Aston Villa side was not in itself disastrous, the defeat followed all too many dismal Sunderland performances. Pete Sixsmith explains why a decent display last night was not good enough …

We were
well beaten. Villa were a better side. We have some problems. Three statements that, to my mind, are non-controversial, but I hope those who read them want to bite back at me.

Let’s deal with last night first. I thought the overall performance was better than Saturday’s. The passing was better, the movement was quicker and the effort was there from all 11 players. Had we performed like this against Portsmouth, we would have been out of sight by half time.

Unfortunately, a number of errors against a very good side undid us. The first goal came from a woeful McCartney sideways pass, which was then moved forward and rammed in the net by an onside Heskey. So, Emile joins the ever burgeoning Club Of Non-Prolific Centre Forwards Who Have Scored Against Sunderland This Season. His fellow members Dave Kitson, David Nugent and Bobby Zamora will welcome him with open arms.

The second goal was a cracking shot from James (“I love playing against Sunderland, me, like”) Milner. But we had given the ball away again. After that Villa closed the game down and never looked in danger of conceding.

It could have been different if Henderson’s tremendous first half shot had been a little lower and if Andy Reid had converted a very good chance early in the second half. But it wasn’t and he didn’t and Villa tightened up, controlled the game and ended up winning it easily..

I thought they were very good, a better side than last season and genuine contenders for a Champions League place. The back four were immense: two mobile full backs and centre halves who complement one other. Dunne is rock solid – one tackle on Jones was brilliant- while Cuellar is a quick, alert defender who reads a game well. With James Collins on the bench, that’s an impressive line up.

The midfield is better for losing Gareth Barry and they work and move like a well oiled machine, with Petrov as the fulcrum. He was always there, ready to pick up the ball, use it wisely and sensibly and tackle crisply and cleanly. A year ago, I heard a Villa fan on 606 pull him to pieces. How times change.

Perhaps they are weakest up front, but Heskey and Agbonlahor do enough to keep defenders busy. They have a good bench as well; one top notch player goes off, another comes on. I wouldn’t mind a bench of Carew, Sidwell and Reo-Coker amongst others.

So, what about us? To use railway metaphors (most appropriate for someone from Shildon), we have hit the buffers and have come off the rails after running out of steam. We looked Gresley A4 class early on, but now, well it’s more hard working main line V2 locomotive; not much class and prone to break down.

The defence is still weak down the flanks; full back is a serious problem for us. We don’t appear to have an above average one in the club, and I can see Bruce making a move for at least one in January.

In midfield we have less creativity and originality than an Ant and Dec script. Cana has seen the game pass by him recently, usually because he has been booked early on. Happened again yesterday, and although I thought the booking was a tad harsh, he is a marked man. The red was just a matter of time. Richardson was as enigmatic and frustrating as ever and achieved little in his “favoured” position of centre midfield.

Pleasing to see Cattermole back, despite it taking some gloss off the Reserves game with the mighty, mighty Hartlepool tonight. He may give us that little bit of vision that we lack. And be able to supply Bent and Joes with some decent balls.

We are not yet in trouble, but we are now looking for the Bolton and Wolves scores rather than the Villa and Liverpool ones. Two hard games to come; this is where players and management begin to earn their vast wages. Lose these two and we are up to our ankles in reindeer poo.

7 thoughts on “Soapbox: Villa(ins) of the piece”

  1. NB I am a cretinous web parasite.

    Don’t you acknowledge that it is high time to receive the LINK DELETED BY SALUT! SUNDERLAND, which would make your dreams come true.

  2. No one seems immune from despair. This is a comment from the BBC football site today:
    “Arsenal seem to keep giving us false hope. I honestly thought we had turned a corner, but dropping points at Turf Moor makes Sunday’s victory worthless!”

  3. All I am saying is that it’s not all doom and gloom.

    We have a small squad of real ‘talent’ and prozone anaylasis has probably countered some of our play with little reaistic chance of rinigng the changes. Hopefully Cattermole’s return will mean we can actually occupy the attacking midfield and with Cana suspended our defense may suffer but we can’t get any worse going forward.

    Too soon to panic, we are bang on course!

  4. yep- im with pete on this one-read my post from the previous(wolves/refund etc) post-u mite not like it but hey-thats how i feel, im only tellin it how it is- however il post it again as its relevant to last nite for sure-
    “Yes im getting a bit sick and tired of going out in the cold and wet- spending a decent chunk of money, to see lovely nice talking steve bruce’s apparantly ‘great’ signings be a waste of big money! we should have got a foreign manager in this time lads-not a geordie who’s in it for his massive wage-giving lovely nicely spoken interviews after defeat upon defeat isnt gona keep us in the premier league! I think he just gambles and goes for foreign unknowns or hopefulls and hopes it pays off-how much more cash will he part with before hes sussed out for what he really is-a mid table specialist….”

  5. I’m not a journalist, just a supporter of 45 years standing. I write what I think. I think we are struggling at the moment. I reckon Steve Bruce feels the same. We have 5 points since October and have stopped scoring goals. It’s not a crisis, but there are difficulties. What’s wrong with saying that?

  6. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being beaten by a better team. Otherwise we would be top of the league. What is really hard to take is playing poorly against teams that we should get a result from. Unfortunately that always seems to be the few games I am able to see, out here in the colonies. This weekends game, against City, is on the box, but I hold little hope for any points. Won’t stop me swearing at the tv though.

  7. Mr P. Sixsmith as a journalist you should know the power of the media to cause a stir, Edwina’s eggs swine flu etc. You my friend need to take a sit down with a nice pithy pint(mind maybe one with that’s not too green or as some say ‘hoppy’, as a very close relative of the hop can cause anxiety when one is not accustomed to its ropey qualities).

    Also I am worried that all your knee jerking could cause a static build up which would be dangerous to any one you met with a pacemaker. Mind if the worse was to happen you could fling the ailing chum on the Bandwagon which seems to be closely following you at the moment and take them to A&E.

    Give it a rest and let’s see halfway through the season where we lie in relation to the clubs target of a mid table finish. Our home ties next season are good and if we can pick up some points on the road in the second half of it, 8th place is ours.

    STOP spreading panic for the sake of waxing lyrical, I do understand it’s hard for a hack but come on, look support up in the dictionary.

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