The moment Obafemi Martins tapped home Birmingham’s League Cup winner last Sunday, something strange and mysterious happened. Down at City rivals Aston Villa, it triggered the start of a horrific week. First Villa revealed losses of up to £37 million. Then Gerard Houllier took the first team to Eastlands (well half of the first team. No, two of the first team). The Martin O’Neill saga continued and then that Saturday game at Bolton… where do I start?
Recently things have been on the up at Villa Park and if you would have asked me last week after the 4-1 victory over Blackburn, do you think we could have beat City? I would have replied, plain and simple, yes. If it wasn’t for Paul Robinson in the Blackburn goal, Villa would have been four up at half time never mind full time. We were fast on the break. Young and Bent were playing well together as they have been doing recently. And with confidence back up high, I thought it would have been common sense to play our best team against a City side that was going to rest some of their stars. Saying that, players like Balotelli, Vieira and Lescott could easily walk into the Villa team any day of the week. Instead we made up to ten changes. This, as a huge fan of the FA Cup was very surprising but more disappointing. Former Villa captain Gareth Southgate was the TV pundit and also expressed his shock of Houllier’s selection stating “A good cup run can produce good results in the league.” I couldn’t agree more and I know they are a League One side but look at Leyton Orient’s recent League form while they were on their cup run. I could go on about the City game but what’s the point? It’s over and done with. But before that… Herd and Delph as full backs? It boggles the mind.
This season, more than I could ever remember, we’ve had to use more youth from the academy. Players like Albrighton, Clark, Bannan, Delfouneso, Hogg, Herd, Baker and Lichaj have become household names. And we could be seeing more of them over the next coming seasons if last year’s losses have anything to do with it. The exact amount of the losses were £37.6 million. I believe this would only be a problem if we were relegated from the Premier League as you see these days most clubs make losses. I mean you just have to look at Manchester United.
The Martin O’Neill saga is now going to an official tribunal at the LMA. Do we care anymore? Really? I would have been interested back in August, maybe running up to some time in November, when I still thought the sun shined out of the Irishman’s backside. But now in March, I’m not bothered. We’ve moved on and now we’re a different team with different mentalities and more worrying issues such as getting out of the bottom half of the table. I not saying I don’t care completely how he left but I’m more concerned why do it now at this time of the season? The LMA should just wait till the Summer especially if it could be a distraction to some of our senior players when they should be concentrating on football.
Now the Bolton game. There are so many mixed feelings about this game. We played very well and should have won but we just forgot how to defend corners, which Bolton and ex-Villa player Gary Cahill exposed us on. Time and time again we have not been able to finish off a team and it wasn’t more evident than at the Reebok. With Villa winning 1-2, the quick feet of Ashley Young cleverly won Villa a penalty. It was one of those goals where you say to the person next to you,’If we score this that’s it’. I knew Young wasn’t confident and didn’t even look up at the Bolton keeper. Mind games at their best were on show and Young lost as Jaaskelainen brilliantly saved down to his right. The rest was history. Ninety minutes up and we lost 3-2.
Disappointing to lose but still confident that we’re the best team in the bottom half of the table and we’ve just been unlucky. Relegation in my mind isn’t a worry. Well OK, it’s still niggling at the back of my mind which will just not go away. It’s not all bad. Birmingham are now in the bottom three and maybe this week will be more forgiving to the Villa, to the players and more importantly to the supporters.