Game 5: Saturday 30 August 1997
Aston Villa 1 - 0 Leeds
(Half-time: 0 - 0)
Referee: P Jones (Loughborough)
|Blackburn Rovers »
|Martyn, Kelly, Robertson, Haaland, Radebe, Wetherall, Hopkin (Halle 78), Wallace, Hasselbaink (Lilley 78), Ribeiro, Kewell
|Bowyer, Molenaar, Beeney
|Bosnich, Charles (Nelson 45), Staunton, Southgate, Ehiogu, Wright, Taylor, Draper, Grayson, Yorke, Collymore
|Milosevic, Curcic, Scimeca, Oakes
|Shirt numbers of goalscorers
|Villa Report (abridged)
|Boy, are we shite
|Villains (and some heroes)
|Little shuffle pays dividends for Villa
|Victory proves feast enough for Villa
|The Sunday Times
|Yorke's winner lifts Villa out of their depression
|The Electronic Telegraph
|Villa made glorious by Yorke
|Links to Reports on the net
|Soccernet match report
|Carlingnet match report
I have a theory that the quality Leeds' performances are inversely proportional to that of the list meets beforehand. It was a hoot in The Sack of Potatoes - four luvverly beers floating a scrummy beef and ale pie in friendly list company - and so it followed that the match was grim. Why the hell did Graham switch Wallace to midfield after he had had one of the best games of his life in his preferred role of striker? Villa looked like a team that had a 0% record and yet they still ended up outclassing us, as they now how to simple things properly, like pass and [gasp] move. The only bright things were young Harry showing his class, another godlike display from Lucas and Martyn getting back to his best.
The crowd were well subdued, due to the collective realisation that we are worse than ordinary and we're in for another long season. WATC-COE is as dead as the royal adultress.
The only enjoyable thing that happended all afternoon was replying to Graham's parting wave to the fans with a hearty "FUCK OFF!" with plenty of vees.
I've said it before and I'll bloody say it again and again, we will not progress as a team until Jurassic George and his fossilised football is just a bad memory. The man simply hasn't a clue how to play _football_ in the 90s.
Go back to your constituencies and prepare for lots more disappointments.
Nigel B. (thinking of going to Siberia until all this blows over)
P.S. Anyone heard any good Princees Di jokes yet?
P.P.S. There's even talk of the England-Moldova game being cancelled. Great, that'll bring her back.
Martyn: without whom it could have been far worse - he pulled off a number of good saves and looked back to his best.
Radebe: The man is our one truly class player, good enough to merit selection for any Premiership side. Stand by for much interest in him if SA do well in the World Cup. Held us together at the back and his distribution was excellent.
Kewell: Looked strangely out of place - he relies on skill as well as strength. Needs to work on his finishing, but looked our best attacking player by miles. Kept looking to pass, but too often no-one was moving for him. A marked contrast to the juniors last year where the movement was good.
Kelly and Ribeiro were neither heroes not villains, both played well enough. Wetherall didn't do much wrong, but I think he lost the header that resulted in the flick on to Yorke for the goal. He also gave away needless corners.
Hasselbaink: Many will bemoan our Scottish fullback. Yet it was probably Jimmy who lost us this game through poor finishing. Villa were there for the taking in the first half - if we had turned chances into goals I think their confidence would have crumbled. Yet I don't recall Bosnich having to make a significant save until Ribeiro went through in the 2nd half. Jimmy's movement was poor, his shooting was crap. Two games in a row now where we have failed to put the ball in the net whilst pressing. Maybe Jimmy would be better if he had a quality partner.
Hopkin: Anonymous except when he gave possession away (often).
Haaland: Very much like Hopkin. Do we really need both when neither seems to give us more than Carlton did?
Wallace: Normal service has been resumed. When we were competitive in the first half he repeatedly squandered good moves (often involving Kewell's runs at Charles) with atrocious passing. He and Jimmy play essentially the same game. Jimmy falls over less.
Robertson: Poor bugger isn't being given a chance. He plays like a man under pressure, but I think that he may improve. It would be nice to see what happens if he plays alongside the same people at the back in consecutive games - he's had different partners every time I've seen him. It would be nice to see what would happen if he had more than a single 17 year old making runs for him. Looks to me like he's struggling to adapt to 'balls into channels' having been used to a passing game. Get off his back. We weren't crap in the second half because of him. He may have been crap because the rest were.
Halle and Lilley were on too little to make an impact. Villa swapped Charles for Nelson at HT and proceeded to dominate the game. GG's use of substitutes last season caused me concern, still does. Our midfield was obviously tiring in the Liverpool game just before their goal.....
Overall: very disappointing. Villa were not that good. We were atrocious in the second half. At one point late in the game Martyn rushed to take a goal kick only to find that most of the central players were wandering about discussing how Villa's most recent chance had happened. Big Nige, Kelly, Ribeiro, Radebe, Robertson and Kewell seemed to care. I'm less sure about the others.
Chief Villain: Watch this space, but I am beginning to wonder just what is going on. We brought on Halle and Lilley with less than 10 minutes to go. Molly and Beeney were two of the other subs, along with Bowyer. Lilley featured out wide, Halle slowed down a couple of attacks and played the ball into a corner at the death instead of putting it in front of their goal. Why did we play with Wallace withdrawn when he did well on Tuesday up front? Just what formation were we playing?
Those of us who have coached at any level know that movement off the ball is one of the most readily teachable aspects of the game; yet we seem no better than we were last year despite changed personnel the close season. We have to start asking about GG/DO'L now.
Those of us who watch regularly know the team's strengths and weaknesses. We also have a sense of where the youth have potential stars - let's say MacPhail, Woodgate, Kewell, Jackson, maybe Dixon, Maybury and Shepherd. The rest either look a long way from ready or probably not up to it (though I'd defer to DRB on this). So what sort of players have we bought? Well, actually, some central midfielders who are strong on battling, can make forward runs and work hard. Just like Bowyer (who may have more skill), Palmer, Jackson, even Ford or Couzens and Dixon and not entirely unlike MacPhail. Yet we still lack a player who can put his foot on the ball and display vision outside 'the channels'. We bought a forward who looks a superior version of Wallace and yet we still play high balls forward - presumably on the old 80s principle that you than use your battlers to scrap for the second ball. But other teams are now wise to that. And anyway Hopkin and Haaland didn't battle very successfully in their recent outings. We have countless CBs, lots of similar midfielders, no quality wide except for Sharpe, no decent centre forward. Is there any more discernable strategy on transfers than there is on the field?
GG's defenders will say there's no quality to buy - well look at Derby's summer signings of the last two years. They aren't in Europe, they aren't all that rich, they aren't fashionable, they are based in a shitty town but they got Eranio, Baiano, and numerous other good footballers. Might we have been better advised to chase Dyer than Hopkin from Palace? Our forward play on Saturday was so poor that I was left wondering whether we should't try for Flo or Fjortoft or some such limited but half decent player.
It is all very depressing - what do you do after a poor start, with a manager who shows no consistency of selection, whose teams betray no hint of a system other than hoofing balls into channels? I know what we did at this time last year after a less poor start, one unlucky defeat and a thrashing by the eventual champions.
Oh, I should add that we have a manager whose new purchases are generally playing way poorer than his predecessor's legacies - compare Martyn, Radebe, Kewell, Kelly, Wetherall, even Wallace; with Robertson, Hasselbaink, Hopkin, Molenaar. Perhaps we'll look better when Bowyer regains form and/or when Sharpe restores some finess to our approach. This isn't pro-wilko, it is just a comparison for purposes of criticising GG's approach.
Mike, not yet GG-out but beginning to wonder seriously if the guy really knows what he is doing. I hope that we will see some improvement in two week's time and that by the end of the season I can look back and say that it just took the team time to gel and that all we needed was a quality striker who could get the best out of Jimmy.
There then followed beer and food and general chatting in the pub. BTW where was the mention of the pub in Mike's report, i think he should tell us!!
After discussing where we are going wrong, what we should do as the company BDTR, and if any body still plays subutteo-should there be a list competition?
We made our way to the pub in taxis some miles from the ground we were told that it was just round the corner and we walked and walked and walked until on the horizion the ground was spotted, having made it there we went off and found our 8seats mine being in a position not disimilar to the North East spot i normally go for.
We started off alright once i had made a little sense of the formation, i made it out to be an 'arrow head' formation with Jimmy up top supported(?) by runs from Wallace and Kewell. We created chances as we have in the games i'd been to so far though the chances were not as good as the ones verses Liverpool. If we had scored early on then we could have run away with the game as we did at Sheffield. We got to the bye line a few times and pulled the ball back only to see shots either blocked or blasted over the bar. Villa on the other hand looked poor though managed to create better chances and it was only due to the fact that Martyn was having his best game of the season that we went in level at half time.
Half time was strange, silent and subdued no WATC-COE one tried to start up but it just seemed that the apathy of some of the players had spread to the crowd who until then had been out singing the home fans.
Villa game out for the second half a changed side (well they made one subsitution) and took the game to us putting us under more and more presure, Martyn made another couple of fine stops, then Ribeiro burst through the middle only to have a shot blocked by Bosnic. Then a cross from the left was only glanced on beyond the far post where Yorke had one touch and volleyed the ball into the far post, class finishing from where i was sat, just after Bosnic dallied over a long cross field ball from Kelly and Kewell should have least have made the keeper save with a shot though could only hit the side netting. Following this we changed things a little and went forward less. Lilley came on and spent 15mins waiting for a first touch only to have it on the left wing where he sliced his cross into the crowd.
Martyn-Best game of the season so far, didn't come out of the box and some of the stops were from the top drawer 9
Kelly-Tireless running and enthusiasm which is lacking in many players when the going gets tough 7.5
Robertson-Looked like having his best game so far until he fell apart in the final 20mins mindless booing doesn't help, i still think he's playing out of postion 6.5
Wetherall-The best 'old' style centre back we have battles for every ball in the air and gave Stan as good as he got. 7
Radebe-Where would we be without him. Solid, Class and Reliable are all that can be said about him 8.5
Hopkin/Haaland-Linked together as they seemed to be linked during the game, to similar to players already at the club 6each
Ribeiro-For a squad player he looks good remembering that he's only young, as with Kelly seems to care about what gos on not just getting payed
Kewell-Strong performance only needs to learn to finish, not only on the evidence of this game but form what Maggie wrote after the stiffs game. Needed support when he had the ball 7.5
Hasselbaink-Not the man to play up top in a formation such as played on Saturday, looks good though not up to the task of leading a line yet 6.5
Wallace-Out of position tried hard, didn't fall over wants to run and run for the side 6.5
The subs were not on long enough to be graded (that or they didn't do anything)
Following the game, Mike Claire Gav Vinny and I went back to the Sack 'o' Spuds with the open all day signs only to find it closed and went in to the pub over the road and chatted over the game, where we should go from here, who we should play in the arrow head position and who would be picked in an ugly side, we got most of a side but were lacking in the full/wing back roles any ideas to me or the list.
Got the train home had tea went to bed the end?
George Graham was unhappy, not only with defeat but with the game itself and the way it was played. These 1-0 reverses are just too exciting for the old curmudgeon.
Aston Villa overcame their nervousness and the problems set by an unorthodox Leeds line-up to gain their first Premiership points of the season. They gave the ball away and often appeared confused about their defensive duties but they created more and better chances than Leeds and they would have won by more had Nigel Martyn been a little less sharp or agile.
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