Aston Villa and Everton

After 14 minutes of last Wednesdays game, a loud roar is made by the home fans. Everton have just won a throw-in – inside their own half! I thought to myself – Everton fans are desperate. 54 seconds later, the home crowd are going nuts. Why? Sagna has just beaten Cahill to a header and the referee fails to give Everton a free-kick. Instead, he waves play on.

Everton are a desperate football club. So are Aston Villa. They are desperate to break into the top four. They are desperate for Champions League football.

The style of football they both play reflects that.

The last time Everton won any silverware was 1995. It was the FA cup. The last time they were Champions of England was 1987. Ronald Reagan was President of the United States. He died five years ago. 

The last time Aston Villa won anything was 1996 – the League Cup. True they won the European Cup in 1982. But the Champions League is different. It’s like comparing the election of Thomas Jefferson – who won the US Presidency by barring black people and women voters to that of Barrack Obama. The Champions League is a different kettle of fish just like US voting rights are today.

Yet, have you heard anything on Everton or Villa not having won a trophy for well over a decade. No. All you here is that Arsenal haven’t won anything in four years – and that was only the FA cup.

Everton qualified for the preliminary stage of the Champions League in 2005. They were knocked out by Villarreal who were eventually knocked out by Arsenal in the semi-finals. Everton lost the first leg at Goodison Park 2-1. They also lost the second leg 2-1 but only after Duncan Fergurson had a perfectly good headed goal ruled out for infringement. It would have forced extra time. Instead, Villarreal went up the other end and scored the game winner. Forlan sending Everton into the UEFA cup.

But watching Everton trying to qualify for the Champions League group stages was like watching Henry Cooper trying to beat up Classius Clay. And that to me sums up Villa and Everton.

They try hard. And the British love a team that tries especially when they are an underdog. Both teams are organized and committed. But they are fading clubs living on past glories. Just like the British were in World War Two.

Villa will never win the Champions League.

Everton will never play in the Champions League group stage.

Villa knocked Arsenal out in the semi-finals the year they last won their last trophy. We drew 2-2 at Highbury after leading 2-0 and then drew the second leg 0-0 at Villa Park. Bruce Rioch was in charge of Arsenal that season. But over the two legs, Arsenal were the better team.

A month later, Villa beat a poor Leeds team 3-0 in a one sided final.

However, with the benefit of hindsight, I am pleased that Villa beat Arsenal. Had Arsenal won the League Cup that season, then I think that it would have been harder for them to have fired Rioch and replaced him with Wenger. Without Wenger there would be no Champions League football for Arsenal.

After 26 minutes of Wednesdays game against Everton, Joe Royle the ex-Everton boss commentating for Setanta said: “Arsenal look a little bit stronger and have more intent.”

Since we drew 2-2 away to Villa the media have ignored this fact.

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