Birthday SHIRT
See? Birthday SHIRT

My first game at the Globe this season, and my 11-year-old son was along to help me mark the occasion, looking smart in his birthday shirt. (I said birthday shirt, not suit.) It was good to see Simon, Andrew, Keir (the other one), Tyler, Tyler (the other one), Greg, Brian, Daniel, Bill, and a few others besides. I enjoyed a nice egg-and-sausage sandwich, and a tasty lager—shame about the game, though.

Actually, the highlight may have been some of the guys belting out a song I confess I previously hadn’t heard:

I love you Sanchez, you are the light of my life
I love you Sanchez, I’d let you shag my wife
I love you, Sanchez, I want curly hair, too . . .

I can only imagine that my son thinks the grown-up supporters would like to let the midfielder lay some vintage carpet on their spouses. (Don’t know the tune? Click here and wait for the chorus.)

It was a pretty unfortunate first half. Three games into the season, and Villa were looking like they’d just been told about this new thing called “passing” and thought there was nothing to lose if they gave it a try. The pleasure of seeing a sparky Jack Grealish start and play some excellent through balls, was allayed, to say the least, by watching what Gabby did with those passes. It’s time to rewrite Gabby’s song, I’m afraid:

Gabby Gabby Gabby Gabby Gabby Agbonlahor
He scores no more . . . he scores no mo-o-o-ore

I don’t blame Sherwood for wanting at least a little bit of continuity in the team—it seems reasonable in theory—but I do blame him for not substituting Gabby after the half-hour mark. It’s just not working. Gabby’s touch and nerve seem to have failed him, and all he can do is run. He’s become Villa’s own Flying Dutchman, a phantom player cursed to forever roam the pitch without doing anything except scaring the supporters. Just when you think he’s disappeared entirely, he appears from the mist, sailing toward the goal, but he doesn’t have a ghost of a chance of scoring.

As the first half drew to a close, it felt like a nil-nil game in the making, which, of course, meant there would be goals to come. The only question was . . . whose?

Not Ours

Yes, we were all wincing when Sako scored the second
Yes, we were all wincing when Sako scored the second

Palace’s first ball in the net was correctly ruled offside, but their second one came courtesy of a rare Ciaran Clark miscue. His shirt had been given a gentle tug, but I can only imagine that he was off balance or having a sudden fantasy about playing for another team when Scott Dann rose above him and made no mistake with the header. Clark never even got off the ground.

(Does he have a song? What rhymes with Clark? For that matter, what rhymes with Ciaran?)

Even more puzzling was the substitution that immediately preceded the goal. With a 0-0 draw and a point still a possibility, Sherwood put on Adama Traoré. I’d hate to criticize an attack-minded substitution, but why, for heaven’s sake, take off Sanchez? Why not the much more obvious solution of REMOVING THE INEFFECTIVE GABRIEL AGBONLAHOR?

The perfectly acceptable ignominy of a goalless draw seemed as if it would be replaced by the ignominy of a 1-0 defeat. Traore’s first few touches were poor, making him seem overawed by the situation.

UNTIL HE WASN’T. Suddenly showing his skill and blazing speed, he raced down the right touchline and sent in a lasered cross that deflected off a defender and the hapless keeper for a GOAL. In the Globe, joy was unconfined. Giving up a goal on the road? Predictable. Coming from behind for a 1-1 draw? That could feel like a win.

It’s early yet, but Commander Adama needs a song. I humbly suggest that, when he takes the field, we all hum the music from the original Battlestar Galactica series.

We had only 10 minutes to enjoy our draw-that-felt-like-a-win, though. Guzan, who had made several strong saves, once again showed his Achilles heel with a poor distribution to Amavi. Amavi shouldn’t have lost the ball, true, but he shouldn’t have been under that pressure. And, just like that, Bakary Sako made it 2-1 with an excellent strike from the top of the box.

It’s early days, still, but we have to wonder where the goals are going to come from. Gestede? Hopefully we’ll have a lot of chances to sing this:

He scores with his foot, he scores with his head
Who needs Benteke, when we’ve got Gestede

I know a number of people, for obvious reasons, want to fit the Specials’ “A Message to You, Rudy” into a song, but let’s all just admit that isn’t working. My humble suggestion? The Clash’s “Rudie Can’t Fail.” Would work much better in a stadium.

Rudy can’t fail . . . Rudy can’t fail!

Unless, of course, he does.

Sunderland at home next week should be three easy points. I said should. Time for these talented youngsters to really give us something to sing about.

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