What else was there to play for but our pride? Personally, finishing fifth or sixth makes no difference to me, although I expect that there is few extra bob for the fifth place, but probably only enough to keep Dessy in socks for a couple of weeks. The season for me ended last Saturday. I still cannot get used to the idea of having the cup final the week before the final league fixtures. There must be some strange reason — well, anything dreamed up by the FA seems weird — but try as I might I cannot figure it out. So where the last game of the season is generally a bit of a party atmosphere — minus the jelly and ice cream of course — this one fell a bit flat. And the players out on the pitch picked up that flatness.
Claudio Ranieri did not go full out with the youngsters, with only Carlton Cole making a start and Robert Huth — after his stunning midweek goal for the reserves — making the bench. But for all the effort put in by the players selected, he may as well have played the youth team.
This was not any easy match to write a report on, mainly because it was not much of a match. Let’s see, they scored three goals (all rubbish ones, of course) and we scored one, a fantastic effort from Eidur (a penalty actually), and there you have it in a nutshell.
Cole looked more than useful at times. He was certainly full of running, although he did sometimes try to play the near impossible ball instead of the simple one, but that will improve with time. Huth came on at half time with Gallas switching to the left and looked okay. Clearly nervous and in fear of making a mistake, the crowd got on his back at one point when instead of running out with the ball he turned and played it back to Carlo. But again, time and experience will give him confidence.
Carlo saved us several times (how often has that been said this season?) otherwise this could have turned in to a real embarrassment. As it was, the Villa fans went home happy following their qualification for the Inter Two Bob Cup. The problem is that they think they are in Europe. Ha! I just hope that they, and Graham Turnip, will be just as happy when Outer Uzbekistan Rovers (third eleven) knock them out.
There was a lovely presentation at half time to Colin Hutchinson (how much will we miss him I wonder?) and to the 43-second man. The highlight of this was the replaying of that goal on the giant screen. “We’re gonna score in a minute,” sang the crowd, and of course we did. How we could have done with Robbie last Saturday, and lots of Saturdays in between.
And that, as they say, is that. Season over, already looking forward to the next one. Who will be here when we take our seats next time around, and perhaps more importantly, who will be gone? The one thing that never changes is my faith in the Blues, as I know — and I am absolutely certain of this — that next year will be the one when we finally win the title. You are welcome to remind me of my optimism come next May.