It is hard to imagine that a tactical analysis of how the other team play could constitute “the biggest insult” that one can give a team.
Yet that is what the rather strange M O’Neill said about our Lord’s statements concerning the 0-0 draw in northern Birmingham.
I have in the past had a bit of a soft spot for M O’Neill since he is the only EPL manager ever to have stepped inside my house (his daughter and my daughter went to the same school, and he came to pick her up from a party chez moi), but I think my feelings for the gent have faded a bit.
So here’s a dead simple guide of how to insult Aston Villa if you really want to.
1. Aston Villa 1, Arsenal 3. That’s shots on target in the 0-0 on 27 January. OK we didn’t cover ourselves in glory – but one shot on target by the home team in the whole game? That’s not very good for a team that constantly thinks it can break into the top four.
2. February 26th 2009 – Aston Villa went to Moscow for a UEFA cup game, and decided to leave eight first teamers at home, and so got beaten and dropped out of the Cup. The reason was that being out of the cup would mean that they could focus on the league. Which they did and duly dropped out of the top four.
3. 15 November 2008 – Arsenal 0 Aston Villa 2. Not our finest hour, obviously, but not something Villa should be proud of either. Villa paraded their new “hold your head” tactic. Three times in the game we saw players go down injured, look up to see where the ball was and then, with Arsenal on the attack, they suddenly feigned a head injury and had to game stopped. On the first of these, which happened on the half way line directly in front of where I was sitting, the player was then carried off and got attention to his ankle.
4. Finances. One might say, “Are you Bolton in disguise?” for the finance model of Villa and Bolton is the same. And rather amusingly under the new UEFA rules coming in, in 18 months time, it will make Villa ineligible to play in Europe. In simple terms the owner (Randy Lerner) puts money in the Villa bank account at various times. But the money remains that of his company, and Villa pay a fairly high rate of interest on it. So the ownership costs Villa around £2.5m a year in interest fees. Not on the Man U scale of things, but still a hopeless case. There is no way the club is making a profit, and no way they can make a profit unless they get several years in the Champs league on the trot – and they can’t get into the Champs league because they can’t make a profit. This model of financing is specifically mentioned by Platini as being unacceptable.
5. December 9th 2007. OK I am going to cite Harry Redknapp, not the most reliable of sources, but he singled out Aston Villa supporters as being the most abusive and disgraceful fans in the country after taking his team there for a game. All right, not my strongest argument, but I wanted to get to five. I could have gone for Agbonlahor cheating on three lovers at once (News of the World, 31 August 2008), but well, that would be a bit unsavoury.
Anyway, you pays your money and takes your choice. Except that this blog is free. If you want to pay for something, buy a copy of the stunningly amazing but hopelessly under-advertised, “Making the Arsenal“.
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(c) The utterly impartial and incredibly fair and reasonable, Sir Tony Attwood, CBE, MBE, OBE, KGB… (oops – how did that get in there?)