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Dave’s Villa Blog

FIFTY THREE YEARS OF HURT

12-04-2010

Dave Woodhall was at Wembley on Saturday. He hasn’t got over it yet.

Every season we say it’s our year for the cup. And every season we manage to defy the odds and get knocked out. Usually it’s in the early stages but this time we got as far as Wembley before running into a Chelsea side who were a long way off their best but still beat us without too many problems.

We can kid ourselves that we were the better side for the first hour. We can say the referee, yet again at Wembley, got the big decisions wrong and we should have had a penalty and seen the back of John Terry for an assault on James Milner. But that would be simplifying things too much.

Yet again we saw a Villa side playing flat out to match a team who weren’t at their best. Chelsea didn’t have to do much, just avoid making too many mistakes then step up a gear at some point to win the game.

Whatever the referee did or didn’t do, this is what happened.

Then just to emphasise the gap between the two sides, our opponents could bring on players of the quality of Anelka and Ballack, while Martin O’Neill’s substitutions consisted of Emile Heskey in a straight swap for Jon Carew.

There wasn’t a great deal of tactical flair, but neither was there much to work with. Four years down the line, surely we should have a better option on the bench than to replace one ineffectual target man with another. But as I heard before kick-off, “We’ve got a Plan A and a Plan B, we just never have them both in the same game.”

Still, we’re on course for another top six finish. Beating Everton on Wednesday night will see them off and make European qualification just about certain.

For a supposedly unsuccessful season that’s not bad and shows the standards that we’re now setting ourselves. Whether we can exceed them in the future is another argument for another day. Right now I’m still sulking.

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