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Dave Woodhall's Villa Blog

WHERE ARE THE BIG GAME HUNTERS?

20-10-2007

Villa against Man United is fixture that sets the spine tingling with anticipation - though Lord knows why, given the predictability of recent results. Dave Woodhall puts his finger on what's gone wrong.

Villa are playing Manchester United. You know what's going to happen - we start brightly, the first half's even, then they slowly but surely start to push us back. They bring on Wayne Rooney, we respond with Marlon Harewood.

They get two goals in the last fifteen minutes, complete with pitch invasion and arguments in the North Stand where a few United fans will be celebrating regardless of the fact they shouldn't be there.

It happens every year and it's getting boring by now. Villa have lost something like their last thirteen games against United. Our last manager to get a point against them was Graham Taylor, and sometime it feels like it was during his first time in charge.

Anyone with an iota of sense could tell you the reason for this appalling record, and the fact that Liverpool more often than not start the season with six guaranteed points. It's because for years Villa have lacked big game players.

We've had big names alright, but they've been the sort who shine against Manchester City and go missing against Manchester United. Paul Merson was one such example, and Juan Pablo Angel another.

It's a long time since we had a side packed with the type of player you knew wouldn't be fazed by coming up against a team of stars, or playing in front of a crowd of 50,000. John Gregory got rid of most, failed to replace them, and we've suffered the consequences ever since.

The other big news of the week is that Randy Lerner has said he won't stand in the way of Martin O'Neill should Martin be offered the England job. Given that football in general has only just discovered we've got the best English midfielder playing for us it's unlikely our manager will be on the radar but yet again Randy's cast himself in the role of the decent guy willing to put his own aims aside for the good of his employee and the nation.

'PR genius' doesn't even come close.

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