This is about the match so I'm not going to delve too much into anything else, mostly because if I start I reckon I could end up getting myself into trouble and today isn't the time for that and we're going to have plenty of free time before now and when the season starts.

I will say this though; I expect early signings and wouldn't be surprised to see some announcements fairly soon. Martin O'Neill isn't going to want to go off on holiday without sorting out a few things first and we all know we need more quality and that some players are surplus to requirements and that some will just be leaving.

What The Papers Say

Kevin McCarra, The Guardian
In a different context Villa might have been rebuked for the faltering of recent months. It is true that the knee injury to Martin Laursen, who was compelled to retire, had grave consequences but the manager must have supposed that his squad would cope better than it did throughout the campaign. Some younger members, including Ashley Young and Gabriel Agbonlahor, dwindled over the programme.
Sam Wallace, The Independent
The truth is that Aston Villa, finishing a very creditable sixth in the Premier League, did not play well. They did not have to.
Oliver Kay, The Times
Aston Villa, with one win in their previous 15 matches in all competitions, were hardly the most fearsome of opponents, but Newcastle never looked as if they believed they were going to stay up.

The Stats

Aston Villa: Brad Friedel, Carlos Cuellar, Nicky Shorey, Curtis Davies, Gareth Barry, Craig Gardner (Emile Heskey, 75), Ashley Young, James Milner, Stiliyan Petrov (Nigel Reo-Coker, 84), John Carew (Steve Sidwell, 89), Gabriel Agbonlahor

Newcastle United: Steve Harper, Steven Taylor, David Edgar, Fabricio Coloccini, Nicky Butt, Danny Guthrie, Damien Duff, Kevin Nolan (Michael Owen, 66), Obafemi Martins, Mark Viduka (Shola Ameobi, 75), Peter Lovenkrands (Jose Sanchez Enrique, 57)

Goal Attempts (On target): Villa 15 (5), Newcastle 8 (3)

Goals: Duff (og) 38, 1-0

Man of the Match

As voted for by the lovely kind hearted visitors to the Aston Villa Blog, the man of the match this week is Gareth Barry with 34.6% of the vote. Doc voted for Nick Shorey and I would have gone for Gabby, but that is just me.

Final Analysis

We were always going to win this game and like I said in the prediction, not because of anything Martin O'Neill did, but because Newcastle were hopeless this season.

Barry played well because he really didn't have a midfield to play against and well, we really should have had more but I honestly think we are as lost as Newcastle at the moment, we are just not as bad as them. Changes need to happen this summer and for the love of God, Martin O'Neill has to drop 4-4-2.

I know I go on about this, but if he wants to start next season with 4-4-2, I'll predict now we won't be in the top six come the end of the season. We need to mirror what the likes of Liverpool, United, Chelsea, Arsenal and even the likes of Spurs and Everton are doing. It's just common sense. Everton and Spurs have seen the light, I'm actually baffled as to why O'Neill hasn't, especially when he has so much evidence in front of him that says we do quite well when we don't play 4-4-2.

Anyway, it doesn't matter. We finished 6th and while Martin O'Neill will be happy with that and we will hear the line about qualifying for European two seasons on the bounce, we all know it's a second rate tournament that nobody is ultimately interested in, Martin O'Neill included, so I say, bring on the summer investment and bring on next season.