The most exciting part of this game. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
This may have been the least enjoyable match I have ever seen Aston Villa play. At no point did it appear as though Villa had the least bit of interest in winning this game, and despite there being nearly half an hour left when Manchester City took the lead Villa didn't show much interest in getting an equalizer until it was far too late. There was at least a point for the taking in this game, as this was far from City's best side and they never really looked to be in rhythm, but you've got to get out of your own half a time or two before you can score a goal. The visitors had to sweat a bit at the end, but it's a lot easier to deal with a five minute onslaught with a lead than it is to fend off the opposition for a full game, and City were equal to it.
Playing a defensive style against Manchester City is perfectly understandable; playing anti-football is never justifiable against any team and certainly not at home. Alex McLeish gets a lot of unfair criticism, but he's not doing anything to help his reputation with a game plan like this one. Playing Emile Heskey at right midfield while Charles N'Zogbia and Stephen Ireland sit on the bench is indefensible. Parking the center backs at the edge of the box and leaving them there all game is indefensible. Subjecting your home crowd to this kind of appalling garbage is indefensible. You can't win games doing these kinds of things and while I understand pragmatism and that draws are sometimes acceptable, you should never play a style of football that almost by definition cannot lead to a win.
This was just awful to watch, somehow worse than the home losses to Manchester United and Liverpool. There's some damned fine attacking talent on this team and to cut them off from the game completely in favor of leaning on this clown college of a back line is just appallingly dumb. I hope the message about the superiority of your manhood got through to N'Zogbia and Ireland Alex, because you just sent a message to the fans (and your team) that if you don't think you're the favorite to win you're not even going to bother trying.