Date: 17th December 2006 at 3:38pm
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‘Blah, blah, we were robbed. Blah, blah, undeserved. Blah, blah dirty long ball team. Blah, blah, boo-hoo, boo-hoo’

Aston Villa showed why they are not a big club by not only losing to Bolton but having a Villa Park so empty of fans as to be an embarrasment.

Bolton fans know that we’re not a big club when it comes to attendances. Sandwiched between some of the biggest clubs in the world and surrounded by hordes of lower division sides, we have never had a great support. Even in our hey-dey in the 1950s when Nat Lofthouse was making goalkeepers nervous, we rarely managed more than 25k home average. So on the weekend before Christmas, our away following was never going to be great, especially for a 5.15 kick off.

So where were the Villa fans? Are they not excited by the new owner and a great new manager? Do they not see a new era coming for the club? The answer is obviously no.

Although a 27,000 crowd would be excellent for Bolton, for a team that claims to be a big club and is based in Britain’s second largest city, it was gobsmaking. There are no other Premiership teams for 50 miles. What’s going wrong?

As for the game, I knew within 15 minutes we’d win. When Jussi’s on thst sort of form, he’s unbeatable. The defence in front of him played well and it was obvious that we missed Dioufy’s trickery upfront. Anelka and Davies had quiet days going forward but both put good shifts in protecting the team.

Villa were woeful in front of goal. If Bolton had been in possesion for 60% of a game, I’d expect us to be walking the match. There was too much huffing and puffing from midfield and no quality. Bolton sat back and said ‘Give us your best’, and then coped with it.

Bolton didn’t play well. Yet in recent weeks, we’ve played well and lost games. This was our revenge for Chelsea, Wigan and Reading.

The penalty was a nailed-on decision. There can be no disputes about it. Petrov was clumsy and felled Anelka. That left Gary Speed on his 100th appearance for the club to blast the ball into the centre of the goal.

Villa rallied and with a bit more quality might have snatched an equaliser but in the end they were taught a harsh lesson. In this league, possession and shots on goal means nothing. Balls in the back of the net mean everything and when I read the paper this morning, the score was Villa 0 Bolton 1 and Bolton’s challenge for a Champion’s league spot is still on track.

 

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