Season | 2001-02 |
Matchday | #19 |
League Game | #10 |
Premier League Match-week | #10 |
Manager Game | #175 |
Saturday, 27 October 2001
Premier League | Home | Bolton Wanderers | Villa Park | 33,599 |
Manager | John Gregory |
KO | 15.00 |
Referee | Eddie Wolstenholme |
HT Score | 2-1 |
FT Score | 3-2 |
FT Result | Won |
Last 5 Games | WWLWW |
Scorers | Juan Pablo Ángel | 13’ | 47’ pen | Darius Vassell | 43’ |
Assists | Steve Staunton | 13’ | Juan Pablo Ángel | 43’ |
League Position | 1st | +2 |
Line Up |
GK Peter Schmeichel |
FB Mark Delaney |
LB Steve Staunton | ASSIST | 13' |
CB Alpay Özalan | BOOKED | 49' |
LB Alan Wright |
M George Boateng |
M Hassan Kachloul | BOOKED | 24' |
M Lee Hendrie | SUB OFF | 86' |
M Mustapha Hadji |
F Darius Vassell | GOAL | 43' | SUB OFF | 72' |
CF Juan Pablo Ángel | GOAL | 13' | ASSIST | 43' | 47' | SUB OFF | 72' |
CF Dion Dublin for CF Juan Pablo Ángel | 72’ |
M Paul Merson for F Darius Vassell | 72’ |
M Ian Taylor for M Lee Hendrie | 86’ |
Unused Substitutes |
GK Peter Enckelman
W David Ginola
Yellow | Hassan Kachloul | 24’ |
Yellow | Alpay Özalan | 49’ |
Team Stats |
Starting XI Average Age | 28.32 |
Oldest Player | GK Peter Schmeichel | 37.97 |
Youngest Player | F Darius Vassell | 21.39 |
Monday, 29 October, 2001
Match report by Matthew Hancock
Angel calls the tune and Gregory sits on top of the tree
John Gregory has been here before, and he didn’t much enjoy it. Last time Aston Villa were top of the league when the clocks went back, three years ago, their challenge had petered out long before British Summer Time came around again.
Whether Villa will suffer the mid-winter blues again remains to be seen, but at least this time Gregory has experience on his side. And after seeing Bolton, the scourge of all teams who are expected to beat them, run his side desperately close, he ensured that there will be no resting on any laurels.
“I know what comes with being top,” he said. “Inwardly I am very excited and happy about what we’ve achieved, but it’s nothing. We’ve played 10 games and put ourselves into that position by getting our heads down and working hard. With being top comes the expectation to stay there. I like to think I’ll deal with it better than last time.”
Dealing with it will have to include wrapping up matches like this one. It should never have been such a thriller at the Villa - before Darius Vassell (limping) and Juan Pablo Angel were replaced with 18 minutes to go, their team were coasting and their fans boasting. Then Ricardo Gardner tore through a static defence and fed Michael Ricketts for his second goal of the game and Bolton might have snatched something had Gudni Bergsson not miskicked with the goal at his mercy three minutes from time.
Still, Villa held out to succeed where Leeds, Arsenal and Manchester United have all failed by inflicting on Bolton a first away defeat of the season.
Ricketts had even given the visitors the lead after 66 seconds, latching on to a long ball over the top from Per Frandsen and finding himself in enough space for two awkward touches before poking the ball past Peter Schmeichel.
That Villa came back from such a slow start owed much to a fine display from Angel, the floppy-haired darling of the crowd who merits a snippet of the Robbie Williams song Angels every time he scores. He did not have to work all that hard for his music on Saturday - his first goal was a unmarked header six yards out and his second a fortuitously earned a penalty when Gardner was seen to have pushed Moustapha Hadji - but his assured vision and touch showed that the embarrassments of last season are now well behind him.
Just before half-time he stabbed the ball into space for his striking partner Vassell to home in on goal and seize the lead.
Angel’s premature removal proved unpopular with the fans, who let Gregory know it, and apparently with the player himself, whose dejected demeanour implied there was more to give. “I’ve never allowed him to finish a game for us yet,” explained the manager. “He struggled to get through 45 minutes last season at times. Slowly but surely he’s getting used to playing 60-70 minutes. Now we need to get him playing the whole 90 in the same attitude that he gets through the first hour with.”
Bolton’s manager Sam Allardyce emerged with unkempt hair that suggested he had been tearing it out all afternoon. The penalty was “innocuous”, he said.
“We weren’t good for lots of periods and gave Villa a lot of room. They played very well, there’s no question about that, and probably deserved to win. It’s this major decision factor that really is costing us an awful lot at the moment.”
Whether he wants to be there or not, few will deny Gregory his moment back at the top of the league. Pre-season forecasts made him a good bet to be among the early sackings, but while 19 others have fallen away, Gregory stands strong. We can assume he is safe for a while. “He is the manager. He is doing a good job and he remains the manager,” the chairman Doug Ellis had said, though hardly reassuringly, in a radio interview before the game.
Gregory knows who to thank. “The guys that have come in have done so well,” he said. “I think the two Moroccans [Hadji and Hassan Kachloul] in particular have been a major plus to how well the team have done. Hadji gives us so much down that right side. Other clubs have gambled enormous amounts of money on the transfer market and failed miserably.”
With Angel coming good, he now has a squad that looks capable of going places. Villa cannot afford to fade away as they did three winters ago -their manager has set his sights on a Champions League place. The hard work starts here.
Man of the match: Juan Pablo Angel (Aston Villa).