Hey all. Sorry Andy can't be here to bring you the news today. I told him that he could have the day off. And this isn't really much of a news post, though if you'd like some links, please enjoy these:
- Barry Bannan is, allegedly, a real grade-A twunt. And no, this doesn't mean he is evil or irredeemably bad, but it does make me right pissed at him.
- Apparently Paul Scharner thinks that Aston Villa were "targeting" Shane Long. Paul Scharner must not know a damn thing about Aston Villa. If we'd been targeting Shane Long, he'd have been perfectly safe. This team hasn't hit it's target in months.
- Villa are appealing Chris Herd's red card, and for good reason. There wasn't a foul, and should the card stick, Herd would face a three-match ban. Three matches for doing not a single thing. Phil Dowd can go [self-censored to avoid tough British libel laws].
So there's the news. But that's not why I'm here today. I'm here because the official site optimist is a bit pissed and wants to get it off his chest. Follow me after the jump, but beware, there may be profanity. I'm not sure, as I haven't written it yet. If you don't like profanity, please just enjoy the links.
I called myself the site's official optimist above, and I think that's fair. Hell, I predicted a 3-1 (or was it 3-2?) win in last week's podcast. I thought Villa had it in them to put on a strong showing against a team that they absolutely should beat. Are the Baggies bad? No, not really. We saw some quite good play from them this weekend. That said, there is no excuse for losing to them.
Sure, we can blame the ref. And to some degree, I do. There was absolutely no reason for that red card. From the get-go, it was obvious that the match was going to be a chippy one, and Phil Dowd did nothing to tamp that down. In some ways, that's fine. It's a derby. Chippiness makes it a bit more fun. But if you're going to let it go, don't just rely on your goddamn linesman to tell you that someone did some stamping. I mean, the players involved could not have been doing a better job of letting Dowd know when a foul was needed. Every bit of contact seemed to make players wave their hands in the air like they just didn't care. And yet, on a play in which no one reacted at all, the tubby little linesman - who looked on the verge of tears all game - decided to wave his flag like a small child at a parade. Well screw him and screw Phil Dowd.
Yet even without our (arguably) best player of the day off the pitch, Villa had a 1-0 lead and West Brom had the most comical penalty miss I may have ever seen. If ever there was a time that I would have forgiven bunkering, it was this. Down a man with a one-goal lead seems fair. Heck, given the way the match was going, it didn't seem inconceivable that West Brom might draw a red and even things up. But Villa didn't bunker. They played stupid boot-it-up-the-field-and-pray football. From the beginning, Villa looked to have the upper hand and I was actually enjoying it. Chalk one up for the Robert-is-a-fool category. The problem with that style of football is that it leads to desperate defense, and Villa ended up conceding stupid set pieces that led to infuriating goals.
And then, with Villa down 2-1, Alex McLeish caught up with the situation as of Herd's red card (perhaps he was in a state of shock), and decided to bunker. Bunkering with A ONE GOAL DEFICIT. How in the name of all that is holy is that supposed to work. Yes, Emile Heskey is a lump of useless with a soul of incompetence, but his lack of movement does not mean he will be a good holding mid. Just because he is big doesn't mean people can't run around him. This isn't basketball, McLeish. Albrighton for Bannan was the last straw. Phil Dowd removed our best player of the game, and Alex McLeish decided he didn't want to be one-upped, so he did Dowd one better: removed the remianing best player while his team had a deficit.
At the half, I was enraged at Phil Dowd. By the final whistle, I'd almost forgotten the man and instead hated the way Villa played. Bent was shit (yes, he made a penalty. You're supposed to make those. The odds are in your favor). N'Zogbia added nothing. Petrov was his usual worthless self. Gabby had some neat play but disappeared for huge stretches of time. The defense couldn't mark their men if they had been given highlighters. And Emile fucking Heskey played defensive mid.
I feel like this has broken me. We may need a new optimist, because fuck it if I am going to think highly of this group for a while. If you can't hold onto a 1-0 lead against West Brom, I sure as hell don't think you're capable of much. And I sure as hell don't think much of Villa right now. Up the Villa, indeed. Right up your ass.