Well, that was poor wasn't it. There was a bit of fight and the players were determined but they lacked something when going forward. The fact we had three players injured that would have probably started could have had something to do with it also.

However, there are positives. Gerard Houllier has been in the job a few weeks and he played against a side where the manager has had more than long enough to get his side playing football and the football was still average. But that lot shouldn't expect anything more - just playing in this league meets most of their supporters expectations.

But for us, we need and want more. We also know that is going to take time and time is something Gerard Houllier has to be given. How much time, considering his age, is open for debate.

What the Papers Say

Phil Shaw, The Independent
The Frenchman cut a downbeat figure afterwards, reserving his strongest criticism for a player who did not even make it on to the pitch, Stephen Ireland. An £8m signing from Manchester City in August, Ireland is Villa's highest-paid player. Yet after being left out of the starting line-up he was also overlooked in favour of a 20-year-old substitute with four appearances to his name, Barry Bannan, as Houllier strove to freshen up his team's performance.
Stuart James, guardian.co.uk
There are signs that Gérard Houllier's honeymoon period could be over at Aston Villa. The Villa manager stretched his unbeaten run in derbies to 14 matches but more damning statistics will have been playing on the minds of the disgruntled home supporters who drifted away today. Villa have won only one of their five Premier League games since Houllier took over and have failed to score in 344 minutes of top-flight football.

The Manager

Gerard Houllier
I thought the last half hour was better, also because we bought in young fresh legs. Maybe the best chances - they had a couple of shots which were blocked - but they were probably Ciaran's header and Ashley's effort at the end. That's not enough. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't happy with what I saw. I am happy with the effort and I thought we competed well in a tense, tight, very competitive derby, where it is difficult to play. We responded well.

The Players

Brad Friedel, Luke Young, L, Stephen Warnock, Richard Dunne, Ciaran Clark, James Collins, Steve Sidwell (Barry Bannan, 58), Stewart Downing, Ashley Young, Nigel Reo-Coker (John Carew, 83) and Emile Heskey.

Man of the Match

Man of the match, once again, is awarded to Nigel Reo-Coker with 41.1% of the vote and he only just got it as Ciaran Clark was close behind him with 38.4%.

Very little happened in the middle of the park but Reo-Coker once again came close to scoring, okay maybe not close, but he is getting up for the chances and he did fight, almost literally.

Final Analysis

It appears the manager is coming in for some stick and while I can see why, I don't think it is completely justified. I'm on record from the day he took over as saying I didn't think he was the right man for the job, specifically because of his age, but it was only that reason.

He could bring short-term success to Villa Park in the form of silverware and because of that he needs to be given time and we need to have patience.

He is also giving the younger players a run and that will prove to be the right decision in time. The likes of Albrighton, Bannan and Clark will get better the more they play and we still have the likes of The Fonz itching to get on and he needs to get on more.

At the end of the day we didn't lose and we are trying to play better football. None of us should expect miracles and cards on the table, we need to wait until January or even next summer, when the manager has had an opportunity to bring in a player or three, to see his style of football really take shape.

I will say it again; this is a transitional season and one we just have to live with. Next season or maybe even the second half of this one, will be better.

As for the result, don't worry about it. We will beat them this month and it will be so much sweeter.

Competition

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