Stewart Downing - a much better left sided player

Carlo Ancelotti won the Premier League and the FA Cup last season, but that isn't good enough for Roman Abramovich. The owner is apparently taking half time trips to the Chelsea dressing room to make team talks which has resulted in the Italian seeking advice from the League Managers Association on how to best get out of his contract.

At the same time, you've got Mark Hughes suggesting that Manchester City are 'contenders for the title', because and this is where I really would like to be able to hide a word for a few seconds, they beat Fulham.

What I'm trying to demonstrate is, things really could be a lot worse than they are and all things considered, defeat at Blackburn isn't that bad a thing and it isn't the first time it has happened and it won't be the last.

What the Papers Say

Tim Rich, The Guardian
His counterpart, Gérard Houllier, would argue with justice that Aston Villa played the better football and created the better chances but the young players who had deserved more than a draw against Manchester United eight days ago left Ewood Park with nothing.
Peter Gardner, The Telegraph
Villa, at times careless to the extreme, had sufficient first-half opportunities to have taken the lead. The first came as early as the third minute, when Stephen Ireland set up Stewart Downing, but the shot was straight at Blackburn goalkeeper Paul Robinson.

The Manager

Gerard Houllier
It was disappointing because I don't think we gave a fair account of ourselves. We had a couple of chances in the first-half but when you are way from home you need to take the chances otherwise you can be punished. Then we conceded a goal in the worst moment of the game because it was added time.

It puts you in a different position because they will defend deeper and more defensive. Had we scored maybe it would have changed the morale of the team - maybe confidence on their side would have been affected. But unfortunately we didn't.

The Players

Brad Friedel, Luke Young, Stephen Warnock, Richard Dunne, Ciaran Clark, Stewart Downing, Ashley Young, Stephen Ireland (Robert Pires, 68), Barry Bannan, Jonathan Hogg (Chris Herd, 81) and Gabriel Agbonlahor (Nathan Delfouneso, 78).

Man of the Match

No surprise this has gone to Barry Bannan again. This is his second man of the match recently and I have no doubt more are coming.

Final Analysis

Houllier has to stop playing Downing on the right and his comments the other day, about how Albrighton is still young and that Downing can play on the right, worry me. I'm hoping that this was a one off because Albrighton was sick.

Downing is an accomplished left sided midfielder but on the right, he is forced to slow the game down, cut in and have a shot or play backwards. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure one of the shots will go in one day and then it will be justified for the next three games, but then we are in a circle of accepting mediocrity when actually, Stewart Downing should only play on the left.

But Downing on the right isn't the reason we lost yesterday. He is the reason why we had as many shots as Blackburn and that, right there, is the circle. Shots from 25 yards out are not going to win you games. Goals win you games.

We lost yesterday because every now and then we have to lose a match to make sure we don't finish in the top four. We lost yesterday because that is what we do. We lost yesterday and this is the real reason I am going with, because the manager hasn't had enough time to instil a mentality that doesn't allow us to go two down at Blackburn.

It might happen and it might not, we will find out soon, but if he plays Downing on the right again, I'm sending him a t-shirt and I'm hoping now that Gabby gets a rest next time out and The Fonz gets to start and another opportunity to show he can do it. Or do we have to get into the Gabby circle?

Before sending the t-shirt though, we're going to email him this desktop wallpaper of Stewart Downing and just hope he has a computer.

Monday AVFC

When the manager starts making certain comments about a certain player and none of it makes sense, it deserves a mention.

Gerard Houllier on Ashley Young
It doesn't prevent me from sleeping! It doesn't keep me awake. No way is he going in January. Unless they buy the club. Martin (O'Neill) said £80m? Eight zero? Maybe more.

Cristiano Ronaldo is worth £80,000,000.00 because he creates chances every single game and he scores on a very regular basis.

Since joining the largest club on the face of the planet he has scored forty goals in forty-one League appearances. Cristiano Ronaldo is worth £80,000,000.00 because he is a truly fantastic player and I'm not saying this just because I'm starting to think Ashley Young is starting to play for himself and not the team.

I'm not sure why the manager would say things like this about a player that are clearly not true and I'm sure Webcam knows it isn't true also, so I can not see the benefit to anyone and it only goes to suggest the manager is out of the loop.

Ashley Young has to start with the basics again and sign a contract. If he doesn't do both, one isn't going to help him.