We are all disappointed today. After this promising pre-season, after the new manager stepped in and the new owners bought some - at least - interesting players most of us really thought we are heading to a new more positive era.
And maybe we are, but not against Villa.
Against Villa we did no tonly look average at the best, we looked like we did last year during those games we had no ideas, we had no clue, we had no energy, we played far to slow and we did not play like a team. And once again tried with these long balls towards Cole all isolated up front. When we thought Grant had an idea how to play with pace and width we all looked like the old team, maybe worse.
All players underachieved, but I am most disappointed with Parker. The man who is so good that he is not saleable, the man who is our real captain and the man who should push the rest with his energy and strength was totally unvisible for the first half. You can't expect that he should perform all day all night, but you can expect that he should take some responsibility. Noble tried to, but made the team slower and had very hard times to find addresses to his passes. So while noone turned up for the premier, the midfield was totally ut of order.
Even if we have counted to have Hitz out there, we can't start to cry if he is missing. It's not the loss in itself, it's how we played: alright Villa was good, they had a new youngster calle Albright, but: it took us even 20 minutes before we even had the ball. Embarrasing. Did it seem like the players wanted to be out there? "A new season, hurrah!"?
Green 5 - Made some great and important saves, but seemed also like an liability at times, should have handled their first (offside) goal better. Awful punch! Still: Had some good friends in the posts and crossbar. As always I want him to take better control of his area.
Wintson Reid 4,5 - First game for us ever, first game in the PL - and that with just two-three days with the rest of the team. So it was going to be hard. His first game was not a success, at time our new Danish-New Zeeland friend had problems where to be in his area. Often against two men. Still I thought he showed that the RB position will be his. Young and new in a team that underachieves he still showed some composture. Will be fine with better help from a new CB (da Costa) and Faubert playin a bit further down. Welcome Reid to this hard road to travel....
James Tomkins 3,5 - All players do mistakes, but at the moment young Tomkins seems to do at least one huge mistake every game. Not good enough, even if with painfully no support at all from our Captain.
Matthew Upson 4 - I've said it before: You can't be shy and be a captain, you can not possess the experience Upson do have without taking more responsibility. Did not do many mistakes as a player yesterday, but must show much more guts! It may end by seeing Ben-Haim and Da Costa teaming up soon!
Ilunga 5 - May have been standing on his heels at one of Villa's goals, should maybe have stopped one or two crosses more, and Albright was a pain in the ass for everyone, but was otherwise one of few players that I was not embarrassed by at Villa park. Showed glimpses of his capacity and had energy.
Faubert 4,5 - Not good enough, not good at all... Things may have looked different if he had ran one inch further on Cole's terrific pass and scored 1-1. Instead he lost his stamina.
Noble 5 - Was one of the main reasons why we played so slow as he wanted the ball (more than most) but never seemed to pass directly. Slow, slow, slow and bad passes is not a good combination. At least you can give him credit for his effort.
Scott Parker 4 - As stated earlier: May not have been the worst man out there, but the biggest disappointment. If he continues like this (invisible) for another game I would be happy to get 12 millions for him.
Kovac 4 - Did he manage to pass one ball correctly? Well, we can't blame him as he can't give a piss anymore as he was on his way up to Stoke for his new contract, when he was called back (because of Hitz' injury). Subbed.
LBM 5,5 - Tried, but even if he had one or two passes between him and Ilunga on the left few were the finished article. Tread water. After the game against Man City when he re-kicked his career you would have hoped for something like that again. Have not given up on him for next game though. Subbed.
CC 5,5 - Another hard game as he was far to isolated up front and he did not manage to take control of many balls, admitting that few passes at all reached the target man. One really nice move in the first half where he showed that he is fast, gave LBM a clear goalchance. In the second half he was a bit more into the game, but must be better to pick out his teammates, far to often it was like "him against the world". "What can you do but dribble?" And he failed.
Pablo Barrera 5 - Can't judge him after just 45 minutes in PL in this new environment. But those 45 minutes reminded me of Luis Jimenez. But, as I am positive, I saw that Barrera will be far more important for us!
Diamanti 4 - Well the man may be a genius at deadballs, may like noone else be able to see the masterstoke of a pass. And: May have new haircuts for every game. But that is not enough, have to convince us in other areas soon. Or be sold.
Piquionne 6 - Our best man today. Had at least energy and some few ideas during those (too few?) first PL minutes in claret & blue. Liked what I saw, and may be able to play with Cole, not instead of...
+ Liked his subs. Fast (compared to Zola) and showed what he disliked. His postinterview showed that he saw the same mistakes that we saw.
- His lineup. Parker, Noble, Kovac in the middle of the park together made us very very slow. He must have been the one to tell Green to show all his goalkicks up towards Cole. It looked like last term. Was da Costa really injured? How come the sleepy players didn't look like Jack Torrance i "The Shining"? It is a new season for God's sake!
If you stay positive you see that we only won one game away from home last year, and that was the first one of the season. So this year this has to be our only loss on away ground!