Monday, March 01, 2010

Villa deservedly lost final so stop carping about Vidic...

Should Vidic have been sent off? Martin O'Neill says, yes he should have been, he went further when claiming it was "universally accepted", err actually NO, it isn't universally accepted, importantly, Phil Dowd decided not to send off the Serbian.

There's always a danger the contest can be totally ruined when the referee decides to send off a player. In this instance Villa were rightly given a penalty which Milner converted in some style on just five minutes. From that point on, Aston Villa had ample time to go on and build on what was a fantastic start to the Carling Cup final, but it was the champions who went on to deserved victory.

I'm not going to argue the rights and wrongs of Dowd's decision not to send off Vidic. Instead let's look at the rest of the game in which Villa contributed to their own downfall.

Richard Dunne was guilty of losing possession when Berbatov robbed him inside the Villa half; the Irish defender won it back only to play the ball to the feet of Michael Owen who equalised. That was mistake number one.

Mistake number two in many ways is actually much worse. I'm referring to Martin O'Neill's shitty defensive 'see what we can pinch on the break' tactics. It was EXACTLY the same when he was manager of Leicester City, and it's why, god forbid, he will never be given the job of managing Manchester United. Villa deservedly won at Old Trafford in the League this season for the first time in donkeys years when they bored us into submission.

Villa's 'have what we hold' tactics were the same, at Wembley on Sunday, except on this occasion United went on to actually create some good scoring opportunities and won the game.

The big problem for Martin O'Neill and his tactics is that when Villa go behind the tactics have to change and that is what he tried to do yesterday, but importantly only after Rooney had expertly headed the champions into the lead.

Manchester United try to win every game by attacking from start to finish, and yes we too play counter attacking football when we are forced to, but there's a BIG difference. O'Neill pretty much deploys this brand of football in every big game and when his team actually takes the lead they tend to sit back, which is exactly what they did at Old Trafford in the League game and on that rare winning occasion the tactic came off.

Imagine this nightmare future scenario in which MON is the new United manager: United have to travel to play Milan in the San Siro, we are defending a narrow one-nil lead from the first leg, what would MON do? He'd tell his team to sit back.

Admittedly, United v Milan is a fixture in which we have almost always come off second best and that's with Ferguson in charge. Most recently in the Champions League knockout round of 16 first leg, and after a hapless start, we went on to win. United attacked the Italian giants in their own back yard and the winning margin should have been greater. Can anyone envisage MON taking any side to the San Siro and attacking the opposition the way United did? Thought not...

Yesterday's Carling Cup Final score actually flattered Villa, because it should have been a wider margin, only the inside of the woodwork and two huge slices of luck denied certain goals for Park and Rooney.

O'Neill can and will go and on about Vidic, but in all honestly, in so doing, he is simply trying to cover up for his own all too obvious managerial flaws and his somewhat negative philosophy on the game.

Managers need balls of steel as well as the courage of their convictions; these attributes are absolutely vital at a club like Manchester United where the fans demand the team goes forward and attacks the opposition at every opportunity.

They say Ferguson is a lucky manager and he is to a degree, but he's bold and he deserves any luck that comes his way. You don't win 34 trophies through luck alone.

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