So I over-estimated the abilities of my boys against Madrid. We were blown apart by Roy Keane. Deulofeu opened the scoring in the 22nd minute before Ryan Thomas doubled the lead by HT. Did we have hope by now? Maybe, a bit of hope. That was gone when Tibbling made it 3-0 in the 57th minute. By this point I was thinking of reporting Deulofeu for outright bullying as he bagged a penalty and another goal to complete his hat-trick by the end of a game. A red for Thomas did not help us either. 62% possession and 22 shots, 10 on target for them. In comparison we only had 10 shots and a whopping 1 on target. Completely out-played. But with Madrid’s resources they were the ones with pressure to beat us, so I guess Roy got away with this game. Look out for the return tie next Saturday….
The first team then flew off to France to face Monaco, a side that were relegated to D3 this season. I myself flew in from Madrid. Sadly we faced an in-form Subasic in a game that could have gone either way looking at the statistics. An excellent point away from home against a side that has Falcao, Moutinho, Walcott and Le Coq. More than a match for Golden Bear‘s side.
The first game of the Regional Cup came up in a few days, and thankfully at home. Not for the fans though, as we lost 0-5 for the second time in three games. Chelsea were far too good for us. Goals for Hendo, Alexis, Aranguiz, Costa and Isco condemned us to a loss, even with Cesc’s red they were far too good. But an expected win for James Mckenzie, who we are in good terms with following his quick sale of Kalas to us earlier in the season.
We met another superior side in the league the next day, as Ajax came home. This time it was much much closer with us falling to them 0-1. Close game, but a deserved win for the Dutch side who dominated the whole game. The evergreen Lampard netted in the 70th minute to give his side all the points. Michael H has had his side play great football all season and they are currently leading the table after 20 games, so there is no harm in losing to a top team.
We had another home game which was welcome. This time Levante came home for the Youth side. After the Madrid debacle, we weren’t too confident but still out-matched them on paper. And this time I was fuming at our luck, as Levante converted their only two shots all game to win. One time transfer target Matt Miazga scored early on before Issac proved to be a Success by scoring late in the first half. Derlis finally scored a goal for us, the first in 5 but we couldn’t come back. Adryan assisted Derlis for his goal. Bratveit didn’t have a good game and Vlachodimos had a blinder yet again. Tom Parfitt, who sold me Ruben Garcia back in late October, still my record signing at 10mil, did well. I respect his work at Levante so it’s a good win for them. Although they, like us, aren’t going anywhere in the Youth Cup with Madrid and Leverkusen far too good for anyone else.
We next had a long trip to Moscow to face fellow high-flyers CSKA Moskva and their in-form Emenike. Still we were leading 2-0 till the 66th minute courtesy another Derlis goal and Ruben scoring as well, surprisingly his maiden goal for us. Eder assisted both goals. Vazquez scored however and then Emenike converted a penalty to get a point for his side. However with their dominance I consider it a point gained rather than 2 lost given their dominance in the league. Hitz had a rating of 10 and MOTM, but still did not make it into the TOTW. What a shame. Good game Sir Walter Smith, with whom we would have more interactions later on in March.
We finally (!) won, our first in 7, kick-starting March with a bang. We welcomed home Cruzeiro, who like us are gunning for promotion. This time we were evenly placed but we were far too efficient in front of goal. Veretout scored early on with Veretout doubling the lead late in the game to win us an important 3 points. Scocco, our hero early in the season, assisted both, getting the MOTM and a 3rd TOTW appearance. Veretout also got his first TOTW appearance. Good on the both of them. Our best buy arguably in this GW. Tough luck Warren Livesey and good luck for the rest of the season (except in the return tie against us). A near-capacity crowd for the game which was great to see.
We faced another Brazilian side at home a few days later. Flamengo, whom we beat in the first game. I was expecting a win, to be honest. Under-estimated them. We had more possession but they had a few shots more (same on target though). CB Vojnovic opened the scoring, but Tanase assisted Derlis for yet another goal. 1-1. Clayton gave them the lead again just before HT though. Derlis equalised through a penalty to make it 2-2, but Vojnovic scored again. Bonatini made it 4-2 and this was too far for us to come back from. Well done Mark Phelps, who out-played me. Good game for the fans to watch though.
Next up was a league game away from home, but not too far as we travelled to Stoke. However against a side that was as good as us, we went behind to an early goal from Hector Herrera, the Mexican back at Porto now. Guerrero made it 2-0. He has been in form for the Potters, with 11 goals at the time of writing. Diouf added to the scoreline to make it 3-0, by which time the game was gone. Djuricic scored his 5th goal of the season for us (and his last, as we know now), to finish the game 3-1. Ruben with the assist. A disappointing show from the boys. The stats show both sides were equally balanced too. A red for Guerrero didn’t help us either (do reds ever help us?!). Injuries for Gueye and Ayew did not help matters. Well played Muz Muz, as Stoke look to finish in the play-off spots too.
We had an interesting game then, against Liverpool. A friendly, but I wanted to see how we do against Pool. Unfortunately Gordon Kinnear (or Gino) did not play his best team, playing his reserves from the game the previous day. Holding mid Sanchez assisted holding mid Gueye for the only goal of the game. Fairly balanced game otherwise. Good luck Gino on the rest of your season.
However we lose the games that actually matter. We welcomed Besiktas to Villa Park, where Franco Zuculini opened the scoring early on. Scocco equalised to make it 1-1, assisted by Veretout, and it looked it would remain that way, but talented midfielder Özyakup gave his side the lead and the 3 points. Disappointing result against a side mid-table. Okore got injured for a few weeks too. Congrats Gerrit Vogeleer on the result.
In the next game I had to send out our rotation XI against Palace at home, again. Éder, who does well whenever he plays, scored two in the first 20 minutes. The first, a penalty, and the second, assisted by Sinclair, who started the season well but has stalled a bit. They got one back in the 79th minute courtesy of Wes Hoolahan. Hitz got MOTM for us. A fairly even game and The Linder would be disappointed with that result, but swings and roundabouts. Important 3 points for us.
Another Regional Cup game. This time we travelled to the Emirates Stadium for a tough game against Arsenal, but a great test too. Fernando and Willian got the goals for them but we did pull one back thanks to Gueye, assisted by new signing Drogba, who was clearly pumped for the game. We also had a debut from Topal at CB. 2-1 to Arsenal, but we were unlikely to win this and we did well to lose against such a quality side. Trickster Costa got sent off for them but I am sure Michael Bowes was relieved they did not lose to us. We are now bottom of both the Youth Cup and the Regional Cup, what an achievement. Good exposure for the squad though.
Back to Thursday’s game now. We flew off from London to Eindhoven. New signing Emenike had a crazy day where he flew from Moscow to Villa to sign, then to London, where he realised the game was over and the team had left. He made the flight alone to Eindhoven. Still, he was clearly delighted to be with us, and scored to give us the lead. Moreno equalised but then Emenike scored again to win us the game. It was new signings combine for us as Drogba assisted both goals. Both have got off to a flier for us. Hitz got a MOTM again and a rating of 10, finally getting himself into the TOTW. No appearances for Emenike and/or Drogba though, a pity. Instead Moreno can get in for scoring but losing and conceding two. Still, we had official debuts for Insua, Drogba, Emenike and Topal. They did well. Good game Heath Brown though, fairly balanced but I think we deserved to win this.
Today we face off in the Youth Cup against Leverkusen. We are now in Germany for the game but I don’t have much hope for this. I received a letter and flowers from Keano wishing me the best for the game, to beat Leverkusen. How nice of him. Imagine if we can pull off a shock today. New signing Cragno will play, hope he will help us not concede goals. Good luck Noisy.
Tomorrow we face off a struggling Sampdoria, who were relegated to D2 last season but haven’t been able to adapt here. Still it will be a tough game. Good luck Gav Harmer.
So that wraps up a month’s worth of games. I should hopefully have a report announcing our 5 new signings in the next few days. A packed few weeks of fixtures coming up, phew! Hope we can do well.
Thanks for bearing with me till the end.
Come on you Villans!