The Doc's Diagnosis: Wigan vs Aston Villa

You thought it couldn't happen. At least, I thought it couldn't happen. But there we are - that's football for you.

Whilst I never went as far as suggesting we get rid of Houllier (and many of you did, with no little sympathy at the time from these quarters), I did question Gerry's ability to take a side of battlers and make them play football. Or at least I questioned his willingness to let them battle where necessary, and play the pretty football when we could.

Last night's game went a long way to answering my doubts about Houllier. It may be because I was there, after a few too many beers, and because I'm back in my hotel room with a head spinning with drunken delight. It may be because we packed our small part of the ground and sang like our lives depended on it, but once again we saw empty seats all around. Lingering themes.

Class is permanent, I keep telling myself. Class is permanent. Where have we been? Reading? Middlesbrough? Watford? Hull? I've been to all of them and, arrogance aside, we don't belong there. Let them struggle and fight for a leg-up into the big time - and maybe a season under the bright lights.

But for a few moments of madness, I thought we were off to join them. How wrong I was.

I haven't always been the greatest fan of James Collins. But once again tonight, he was magnificent. Richard Dunne seems to have forgotten about the beer and Paddy Power and decided to get back on his game. The manager blooded Nathan Baker - showing us all that he has confidence in our youngsters - and the lad did well - very well, in fact. Even Chris Herd made a late show, as if GH wanted to drive the point home. We lapped it up.

I was never sure about the idea of playing Gabby wide - but can you remember a decent attack Wigan mounted down their own right? We all know Gabby can't finish - so maybe why not play him in a wide position where his pace can stop opposing full backs getting forward. He killed Ferreira - and he did the same job today.

All in all, it's looking like we have - finally - some tactics. Downing used the ball well in the middle and Ashley Young - my man of the match - was a permanent nightmare in front of him. And Darren Bent may not have scored, but ran the Wigan defence fucking ragged all night. He pulled Wigan's central defenders all over the place.

It's a happy Villa night. I'm in a hotel in Preston, I'm kettled, and we're 13th now but are going to be 7th by the end of February.

Vive le Gerard.