Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Down with a whimper

Aston Villa 1 - 0 Newcastle Utd

"This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang, but with a whimper."
T.S. Eliot - 'The Hollow Man'

The final curtain fell on our season, and with it taking our 16 year run in the Premier League. In the end, it was typical of much that had gone before.

We started brightly, with Martins in particular looking keen to take the fight to Villa early on, and the Nigerian fired a couple of shots close, without ever really forcing Brad Friedel to make a major save.

But like our season, the early promise soon gave way to malaise, as we allowed the home team to take the upper hand, and from there on they largely dominated the match.

Despite losing the midfield battle, we were nonetheless still in with a shout of staying up, and when manure's kids scored against Hull we enjoyed a glorious fifteen minutes out of the relegation zone.

However, as with every other bright light we've seen at the end of the tunnel this season, a hurtling train wasn't far behind. Sure enough, Damien Duff stuck out a leg and deflected Gareth Barry's wayward shot inside the post, we were back in the bottom three. If that was a tad unfortunate, the simple fact is that as the game wore on, Villa spurned chance after chance to put us out of our misery.

That they proved incapable of doing so, with John Carew the biggest culprit, was perhaps the cruellest twist of the afternoon, as right up until the final whistle the simple fact was that one goal, one misdirected shank of an own goal, would have been enough to keep us up.

Despite this most slender of margins, our team looked so completely lacking in the desire or application to try and get ourselves back on level terms.

Shearer threw Owen and Ameobi into the fray, but the former again looked adrift, while the latter at least showed some competition, and a willingness to shoot which his colleagues appeared to lack, but failed to display anything approaching a targeting mechanism.

Sure enough, the final whistle eventually put us out of our misery.

If we'd gone down fighting, it wouldn't have felt so bad, but as it is, to go down having been undone by a Villa team who were coasting, without managing a single shot on target in the second half, remains the most depressing part of the whole sorry affair.

Other reports: BBC, Guardian


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