Post-mortem: Aston Villa don't play great football but pick up three points

Playing rubbish, which for the most part we did yesterday, but winning, is nice. Worrying to a point, but that doesn't matter, because all that really does matter in this game are the points, everything else is just a 'nice to have' and well, this might be a step towards the nice football.

The football really hasn't taken any new direction since O'Neill came in but he does have an entirely new starting eleven and a lot more determination and fight and I believe that this is just something we have to go through before it starts to really get good. Yesterday was one of those days.

I wrote this next paragraph three times and every time it turned into a little moan, so instead I'm just going to say that attendance was 35,979.

What The Papers Say

David Harrison, News of the World
Power, aggression and a belligerent streak were needed to break down Pompey's stubborn and spirited resistance - and Villa had those qualities in abundance. Subtlety and style? You don't get much of that at Villa Park from O'Neill's team at the moment, but never mind the quality for now.

It is points in the bag which count when you are building a campaign to challenge for the top six. Four straight wins have repaired the damage of their opening-day stumble against Wigan and they are moving up the table with a menacing air.
Ian Ridley Mail on Sunday
Still, the victory continued to rehabilitate Villa in the eyes of supporters who jeered them off on the season's opening day when they lost to Wigan Athletic but have now seen four wins in a row that have given them their best start to a Premier League campaign for a decade.

The only cloud on a sunny horizon at Villa Park was an ankle injury to Emile Heskey that meant he lasted only 14 minutes as a substitute. He has still played more minutes for England than Villa so far this season - 154 to 115.

The Manager

Martin O'Neill
They gambled everything. They enjoyed decent possession, won a lot of second balls and were playing through us a bit.

Brad Friedel then made a fantastic save and it was a big, big moment in the game. It might have been a really uncomfortable last 15 minutes in the match. Portsmouth kept pressing and we were unable to get a third goal. But we won and that will give us an extra boost of confidence. We wanted to press home the advantage in the second half. But, instead of starting on the front foot, we started on the back foot.

Our intention was to press on but we were unable to achieve that. That's something we can look at.But we won the game and I accept we can play much better.

Ever noticed with Martin O'Neill, when we lose, we played fantastically but when we win, we could always play better?

Some Statistics

Quite interesting to day as the football did go back a bit and the stats back it up. We had six shots on target to their 12. We made 275 passes of which 203 we successful and 72 failed. Less than last week but as expected with the way we play when lining up in a 442.

Man of the Match

For the firs time I can remember this happening, the vote is tied. With 27.5% of the vote each, James Collins and Gabby Agbonlahor share the award. Not bad and I can completely see why they both got the vote.

Final Analysis

I don't like 4-4-2 because it promotes long ball football and we lose the midfield battle. Both those things happened yesterday and had we been playing a team not so low on confidence or someone that knew what they were doing, the result could have been very different.

As it were, we played the team with the worst ever start to the Premier League and it ultimately showed. They battled and worked hard and had twice as many shots on target than us and more than double off target - how lucky do you want to get?

We have Cardiff in the League Cup next and then Blackburn away. Both are games we should be winning and I expect us to too.

I should also say, because maybe someone will bring me up on it, that we didn't play rubbish, like I wrote in my opening paragraph, but the football wasn't great either. What I mean is, for the most part the football is much the same as it was under O'Leary.

I haven't seen the football develop and while I appreciate that the football gets better with better players, we don't have the luxury to be able to go buy a £30mn player so we have to work on the game and I don't see it.

Live I've said, maybe we are working to it and one day it will just all fall into place, but it does ultimately worry me, because how we play football is part of the bigger picture and it needs to get better for us, as a club to move forward.