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Dave’s Villa Blog

UP FOR T’ CUP

27-02-2010

Wembley

Thirty-odd thousand Villa supporters will be descending on Wembley on Sunday afternoon. Dave Woodhall will be one of them.

Let’s get one thing straight. The League Cup might be maligned but it remains a major trophy with a Wembley final. 90 sets of supporters would swap places with us and 90 playing squads would rather be in the final than whatever else they might be doing on Sunday afternoon.

It’ll be a good day out, a way if you like of saying thanks to Randy Lerner for everything he’s done over the past 3 ½ years. In that context it will make a fitting end to the first part of the story.

From now on we push forward and make Wembley a regular home rather than somewhere we don’t visit very often so it’s a big occasion when we do get there. United supporters feel the same about Manchester.

It’ll be difficult but this is not the United of old. For years they’ve been like Mike Tyson at his peak – so seemingly invincible that opponents were beaten before the fight started. Things have changed a bit now, and in the same way that Tyson got stopped by boxers he would have destroyed a few years earlier, so Manchester United are now starting to struggle against sides they would once have beaten without trying. 

They’ve lost their aura. In fact there are several teams, Villa included, who could put up an argument that United without Wayne Rooney are no better than they are themselves.

So Villa to win then? I don’t know. In all honesty a Manchester United side at full strength and playing to the best of its ability will beat the Villa. No shame in that; they’d beat any other team in the country. But the difference between now and, say, five years ago is that if United aren’t at their best we’ll win. The days have gone when they’d turn up at Villa Park and stroll their way to a 2-0 win, or bring a couple of world-beaters off the bench if they hadn’t got the points wrapped up with 20 minutes to go.

United have got one advantage over Villa in that nobody except Alex Ferguson knows what sort of team they’ll be putting out. He’s hinted that they’ll be resting some of their key players for the bigger battles ahead, but that might just be Fergie’s mind games again.

Villa on the other hand have their side pretty much sorted. There are minor debates over which Brad should be in goal (Sorry Guzan, but I think you blew your last chance on Wednesday night), who should be at right-back (I’ll go for Luke Young) and who, if anyone, should partner Gabriel Agbonlahor. I’d go for 4-4-2 and John Carew. He’s always going to be a gamble but this is a big game and we need big players.  On his day Carew is unstoppable.

I got me ticket, I got me route sorted and I know where I’ll be before the match (And I’m not telling anyone, it’s a nice, quiet little pub and it’s going to stay that way).

Then it’s off to watch Stilyan Petrov join that elite group of footballers (current membership: three) who have captained an Aston Villa team to a trophy win at Wembley.

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