Post-mortem: Dropped points against Wolves and Webcam is man of the match

The purpose of a post-mortem is to determine the cause. In the case of yesterday and the result, I don't think I am qualified enough, as I've not played football at the top flight and neither have I managed at the top flight. So instead, I am going to put the reason for dropping points yesterday down to misadventure.

You see, if I give what I think is a reason, it will be wrong. If I don't give a reason and point to certain aspects, it will be that I am Teflon writing - I do like that by the way whoever came up with it and if I bring up statistics or look back over time at previous results or performances or try to demonstrate a specific point based on what the history books tell us, I'll just be told otherwise but without the statistics or references to something in the past.

But something none of you can deny me is an opinion. You can say I am wrong and you can say I am right or you can say because I've never managed or played at the top flight that I don't know what I am talking about. Just like I have an opinion - you can have one too.

What the Papers Say

Sandy Macaskill,
Wolverhampton Wanderers led for the majority of the match — James Milner having helped them on their way with an own goal after Jody Craddock had snatched an equaliser — and it left the Villa supporters in chuntering mood as they filed out.
Stuart James,
There are defining moments in every club's season and only time will tell whether Aston Villa will look back at the end of this campaign and point to this fixture as one of the reasons why Champions League football slipped through their fingers. What had looked like being a routine home win beforehand turned into a torturous ordeal for Villa, who only salvaged a point with eight minutes remaining, when John Carew grabbed his second goal.

The Manager

Martin O'Neill
I've got nothing but admiration for the players. They were not the best goals in the world, but they fought when we had to throw everything at it. I couldn't have any more respect and regard for the players.

Opposition Manager

Mad Mick McCarthy
My heart rate is still pounding but I'm pleased - but also disappointed. One we settled down we gave an excellent account of ourselves. I thought we were terrific. I'm disappointed with the goals but there are more positives. It feels like we've had a couple of points snatched away but it was our own downfall.

The Players and Some Stats

Big Brad, Ricardo Dunne (Marc Albrighton, 72), King Carlos, Stephen Warnock, The Ginger One, Stewart Downing (Steve Sidwell, 77), Webcam, Milly, Stiliyan Petrov, John Carew and Emile Heskey fought and fought and fought and were as determined as I have seen Aston Villa this season.

But, that is just the team - where are the statistics? Well, as you know, I'm not looking at passing stats any more - I will when the football gets more defined. You see, I can look at the stats each week but a by-product of good football, more composed, controlled, deliberate football, will be that passing number goes up. Much like a by-product of doing better in the league will be more success in other competitions.

But, something I am going to look at is shooting stats - I mean, you need to shoot to score don't you. So, yesterday, we had a total of 20 shots. We scored twice, had twelve off target, five blocked and one other on target. Wolves on the other hand only had eight shots, scored twice, had two more on target, had one blocked and three of target.

Make from those stats what you will - we had more, we should have done better or Wolves were just more clinical and took their chances. I'm going with both.

Man of the Match

I was going to write that there are no surprises this went to John Carew - then I looked for the number and found it went to Webcam. He picked up 42.7% of the vote with John Carew coming in second with 37.4%. Now, it isn't for me to say anything here, but I will do in a minute, because this really did surprise me.

Final Analysis

If you want to play Chumps League football you are not going to do well in it if you can't beat a team like Wolves at home. Scrap that; you are not going to do well in Chumps League football if you can not dominate a game against Wolves at home. That is opinion - not a fact and some say the football is getting better, so it could be that next season we will dominate Wolves at home, but for me, the football isn't getting better and we need better players.

I am of the opinion that we can win the league with Martin O'Neill but part of that view is that we also need to spend an awful lot of money to achieve that aim. It isn't going to get that much better with the football but it can with money. I know the purists don't want to buy the league and want to do it the honest way, but the truth is, that ship sailed a long time ago.

The only real difference I see in this team is the determination and desire. Yes, we have better players than the season O'Neill took over, but that team as good as finished sixth three seasons before. I also think we are three players away from competing at the very top, but those three players are not going to be picked up from relegated teams or from Scotland and they have to be the 'real deal' - the finished articles.

Players like Webcam, who are clearly gifted, are great players to be going after but their development can not stop when they join the club and they have to get better. I don't necessarily disagree with him getting man of the match for yesterday, but I did vote for John Carew but I can understand why he got the votes too.

I voted for John Carew because he scored two and saved us a point. The majority of the crosses that came in from Webcam went astray and my point is that it appears to be more regular than it used to be. Was it like this in his first half season with us or his first full season? Sure, you can find individual matches where it all went wrong, but I am generalising - his crossing seems to be getting worse.

But, I'm a fan of Webcam and when he wants to, he can be everywhere and he can change a game. If we could just decrease the percentage of crosses that go astray by a third (it was nine yesterday) then I see another goal a game because of what he is doing.

It all comes down to the football and money. Look what Harry Redknapp has achieved at Spurs - okay the season isn't over and they could implode, I hope they do, but he took them over and sure, he has spent money, but the football is better - like ours, but better and this is his first full season.

So, I'm not putting it down to one specific reason but if I had to, I'd just say we were not at the races yesterday and had our mind was on something else. We need three points on Wednesday to close the gap on Spurs, because despite my defeatist attitude - one that I have instilled so not to be disappointed but overjoyed if I am wrong - it is still more than possible we finish in fourth or fifth place, but it is, absolutely, now in our hands.

Basically, if we do not finish in fourth or fifth this season, it won't be through lack of effort or determination, that is for sure and we can not rely on other teams dropping more points than they actually will. Bottom line, it is still possible, so if you have it, keep the faith, if you don't, I know you secretly hope we do, because I do also.

Time will tell and I for one hope I am wrong but if I am not, then I hope for more money in the summer.