Tim Sherwood reckoned after the United match that Villa were always in the game at Old Trafford. While it’s true in terms of how the score panned out throughout the game, the reality is there was a gulf in class and intent. United brought on Falcao and Di Maria, while Villa brought on Baker and Cole. United had 76% of possession, Villa just had two shots on target.
Cole coming on instead of Gil was interesting. Still supporters and football journalists alike seem to have little idea to why Sherwood is freezing out Gil. From what I’ve seen of Gil, I like many Villa supporters would have expected him to come on against both Swansea and United, considering what was happening in both games and also the substitutes that did actually come on. Sherwood despite his earlier mantra of giving youth a chance, seems to think that it’s experience heads that are needed for a relegation scrap. Such players in my opinion don’t have the belly for the fight though.
With difficult away games ahead, Villa will now know their Premier League fate will be decided at Villa Park…it’s just a shame they have the joint worst home record in the league.
Still, there’s always five reasons to be cheerful as Aston Villa fans…
1. Could be Worse
Manchester United didn’t double Villa. Yes, that was never in doubt after the earlier 1-1 draw in the season at Villa Park, but it’s worth a mention after years of constant misery against them.
2. Firing Belgian
While Villa didn’t get anything at Old Trafford, at least Christian Benteke made it four goals in four games. We’ll certainly need the big man in the next few weeks and it’s good to see him hitting the mark, despite not being fully up to scratch at the moment. Hopefully, Villa will resist the route one approach to him, as it only curtails the full potential of the Villa striker.
3. Relegation Rival Deflation
Well, the Tuesday night clash between Villa and QPR could define Villa’s end of season and it is important Villa keep their fate in their own hands. While QPR may have their tails wagging after a win at the Hawthorns (against a team Villa beat twice in a week), if Villa can beat the Hoops at Villa Park, then the weekend sees QPR vs Chelsea and Burnley host Arsenal, so whatever happens when Villa visit Spurs, at least they’ll be some daylight from the bottom three come our Wembley trip.
Although, casting thoughts to the trip to Spurs, it’s important to note though that Villa should be looking at getting something from every game until the end of the season. No team in this league should be feared, as the likes of Crystal Palace and Burnley have shown in recent weeks.
4. Hot Date at Wembley
We’ll know who we play at Wembley this week. Blackburn or Liverpool play for the honour to play Villa on the Wednesday night. Who would you prefer? For a big occasion and bigger scalp you’d go for Liverpool, for a better chance of reaching the final, it’s got to be Blackburn. With the QPR game out of the way and with our opponents known, Wembley will suddenly feel more of a reality.
5. Chocolate Gateau Brigade
I had one consolation as I watched United toy with Villa for most of the 90 minutes. I was drinking whiskey, beer and red wine throughout the match, after my Villa mate’s work had come up trumps with two last-minute spare tickets for their exec box at Old Trafford.
Situated behind the goal on the Villa fans side, it was a pretty good spot, although it’s a shame it wasn’t behind the Villa fans, so I could have done a Robin Hood and passed the deserts (and more) out and around.
Surprisingly, there was no prawn sandwiches in United hospitality, but there was a decent seafood salad as a starter.
The exec box environment is a bit of a disconnected experience. At Old Trafford, It’s like watching the game from your holiday chalet balcony that backs out onto a football pitch instead of a swimming pool. The way Villa gave up possession at times, it would have been nice to have a sun lounger on the box’s balcony to catch some rays during United’s 76% of possession.
If I had paid £46 for an away ticket on Saturday, I wouldn’t have been allowed to drink during the game. But people invited to corporate hospitality, can pretty much do what they want without spending a dime. That’s one thing I have a problem with in modern day football, despite increasing ticket prices, the conditions and treatment you get as a regular supporter is pretty poor. The choice of food and drink is naff, as are the facilities as a whole.
Hopefully the Premier League are serious about using some of the £1 billion they’ve earmarked to give back to the game, to improve the ‘match day experience’ of supporters. After all, as the old adage goes, if you treat people like animals, they act like animals.
Overall, having been at Old Trafford in 2009, when Villa finally won away at United after a long drought, there’s no substitute for being in the stands, but when it came to this customary United defeat, having a top shelf packed with free spirits within arm’s reach was admittedly a good comforter.
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