Date: 11th February 2008 at 3:11pm
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Defence rattled like false teeth on a rollercoaster?

Let`s take you back to 12:50pm on Saturday afternoon when everything was right with the world. Michael Owen had just tucked home a glancing near post header that he had absolutely no right to get to, Villa looked pants and we had eleven players on the park who looked copus mentis.

Fast forward to 2:40pm. Shay Given is packed off in the treatment room getting copious amounts of ice lathered on his torn groin, the scoreboard reads 4-1 to Villa and our back four look like they have have withdrawal symptoms worse than Winehouse after a day off the smack. Gibbering wrecks, they plod back to the sanctity of the dressing room, knowing that by 5pm we could be really in the sh*t.

It wasn`t supposed to go like that.

As the teams were read out there were a few raised eyebrows at ours. Those players involved with international duty seemed to have some sort of inconsistent selection policy. Seal-a-like Abdoullaye Faye (Senegal) was left on the bench but Habib Beye (Senegal) was recalled. Milner (England U21s) started at right mid but Enrique (Spain U21s) was on the bench. Barton (HMP Parkhurst FC) kept his place in the team whilst Emre (Turkey) landed on the bench. Bizarre, particularly as it meant keeping Steven Carr on the pitch at left back.

Four minutes in and that Villa Park sunshine seemed a little brighter. Owen scored from a whipped ball into the box, winning a header that he probably couldn`t repeat in another 100 attempts. Barton then earned himself another trial, this time by video, as he clattered Maloney off the ball. As the half wore on we did alright.

We kept the ball from Villa in spells, tidily frustrating the crowd, but in amongst that there were some worrying signs. Time and time again we would play some great patient build up before aimlessly hoofing it towards Smith. If dumbfounds me to see how he ever played for England, with his first touch being akin to Glitter`s in the Ting-Tong Club. Villa got the ball back, we`d foul, they`d launch to Carew, Laursen et all and we`d escape by the skin of our teeth. Did I mention Barton nearly conceded a penalty? Should have been as well.

Half time came and went. It was patently obvious O`Neill wouldn`t stand for the same sh*te Villa served up in the first half. However even the daftest of dafties wouldn`t have expected them to smash us to bits within two minutes. Bouma cut in off the left and hit a speculative shot, which deflected heavily off one of our men. Given was wrong-footed and saw his groin tear like that bread you get at Pizza Hut. As he was hurriedly signalling to get Harps on Villa got a corner, Young whipped it in and Carew just stood there and knocked it in. No challenge from Beye and they get a two goal, two minute turnaround.

By this stage the majority of us were just struck by the continued ineptitude of alleged international stars. I`d probably guesstimate that the average wage for the team today was nearly 50k a week. How many of them can you say had honestly earned that?

Things went from bad to worse about 70 minutes in. We`d not looked even remotely like getting back into it at this stage before Villa swung in another corner. An almighty fanny about in the box ended up with Butt heading the ball straight onto Carew`s nappa and the giant Norwegian notched his second and Villa`s third.

The Villa fans then started taking the p*ss big time as our collection of misfits played out the remaining 15. Owen got through and lashed into the side netting in our only other chance of note.

In the final minute the humiliation was complete as Carew slammed home a penalty following a ridiculous handball from the sh*thouse oompah-loompah Carr.

The worst thing about the day? Actually having to will Sunderland to win against Wigan. Thankfully results went our way and we weren`t in even greater trouble than we already are. Still the show ponies better shake themselves out of this slump if they don`t want their houses bricked and motors torched. I can see some less than friendly sorts taking exception to the sort of displays Smith, Carr and Barton turned in on Saturday afternoon.