Aston Villa at The Circus: League Cup quarter-final preview

Birmingham City fans in uniform

So, I got my Barcelona story out of the way, because it needed to be said, but we have a game tomorrow.

And, it is a hugely important one for Gerard Houllier and because of his record, we have to put faith in him.


I also firmly believe, despite the injuries to the squad, we have the players to beat them, but there can be no excuses from the manager tomorrow night if we do not make the semi-finals.

His job tomorrow night, is to get the players in the right place mentally, make sure they play the right way to win and to be aware of the threat. If the result doesn't go as it should, he has to take responsibility and he has to burden that faith the supporters put in him.

An important match for specific reasons

The reason why this match is important however is not just because of who we are playing or the stage of the competition we are at, it is because we need to see a win. This could be any team, but now is the time to see a well fought, passionate victory.

You also don't have to be an Aston Villa fan to know the best position for Stewart Downing is on the left and you only need to have seen three or four matches to know he isn't as effective on the right.

You also don't need to see these players every day to know that Barry Bannan can not play as a holding midfielder and that he needs to be involved in the action and he needs the ball to be given to him as often as possible. You just need to have seen two matches with him involved and one when he wasn't and the reason will become clear.

But, I'm not here to list player after player and say where they play best, because there is every chance a player will play tomorrow out of position and considering our injury list, that wouldn't be a surprise to anyone.

But certain things should now be known to the manager and he has enough people at the club to tell him these things and trying new things tomorrow, risking a semi-final place, is too big a risk if it doesn't come off.

The change curve

But we have to accept, that when you change how things are done, it will impact the end result and it isn't difficult to understand why. We might have all the same ingredients but we are adding them differently this season to last and because of that, it is a lot less predictable and prone to error.

When a company goes through a restructuring or they drastically changes how they do business, they can plan for it, communicate, see how it will impact the people and the business and prepare. In football, when a manager walks out five days before the season starts and a new manager is brought in a few weeks later, there is no time and the end result will be impacted.

We have to accept that and live with it and hope that things get back on track quickly and that the decisions made after this change was forced on the club, were the right ones.

But sometimes, especially when change is forced, you have to slow down and take stock of what is happening around you and sometimes you have to go back to the way you used to do things because the system or process isn't as effective as it once was or maybe it simply doesn't work, even if the old system or process was antiquated, very slow and consisted of too many long balls.

To win, you have to risk defeat

I'm not saying we go back to the way things were done and I know I've put too much into this, because risks must be taken tomorrow night, they just have to be calculated and very specific. However, I have a feeling that the manager will be very calculating tomorrow night as he knows how important this match is.

Bottom line; we have to go to the circus to win, there is no other option. We can not sit back and invite pressure as we've seen what can happen when we do that. Tomorrow is about giving everything and I expect to see it.

Bring your own balloons

Also, don't forget to bring your own balloons tomorrow night. When at the circus it is important to show the worldwide TV audience that you really are at the circus.