The Doc's Diagnosis: The tranquillisers are working

Apologies to regular readers: I didn't give you the Doc's Diagnosis of the game against Everton because I wasn't at Villa Park and I didn't see it on TV. And unlike other less scrupulous writers and bloggers, I won't recycle Match of the Day and national press comment.

But I feel strangely content that the battle for fourth is over. In truth, we haven't come that far yet, and an entertaining and hard-fought draw against a very strong Everton side is a good marker of Martin O'Neill's progress with this squad.


Villa have played three enthralling games against Everton this season, and honours are pretty much even. I like Everton and I like David Moyes, even if I think he should impose some tougher club rules on haircuts.

But in the games against Everton, we've actually found where we belong right now. And trust me, that is no bad thing. For a season or two, Moyes' Everton squad have been the only credible challengers to the Big 4. They've even got the feather in their cap of having achieved Champions League status.

To depose Everton of 5th place would be a serious achievement and another step in the Villa transformation. Can we do it? Well, we're in the driving seat and playing good football again, so why not?

The reason I'm relaxed is the Everton game actually gave me a fix of reality. They're a great club, with a top manager and a superb record. They've pushed Arsenal and Liverpool hard for season after season. Sure, they've been missing key strikers this season, but we've been missing key defenders too.

If Villa can finish 5th and above Everton, to me that is a vast step.

Front of the leading pack carries some honour with it.

But we are going to really need to see the colour of Randy's money if we are to make the jump from 5th to 4th. That is one huge mother of a jump.

Still - today, I'm happy. We're now getting real about where we are. 16th, 11th, 6th, 5th. Nobody could argue that it doesn't represent real progress.

Let's just make sure we finish 5th. I need something to drink about!