Well, I got the result half right.
I said we’d lose 3-1 if we played poorly. The score was right, but I don’t think we played to badly.
Add to that, that we played with ambition to try and win the game and I’m reasonably happy.
There were issues though, that I’ll come onto in a moment.
I’ve never been a big believer in the conspiracy theory that is Sky are massively favouring the top six, but my opinion has changed today.
First off, today’s ref comes from Manchester. I thought coming from the same area as a team disqualified you from officiating them. Apparently not, as you have to declare an interest in a favourite club. Obviously Chris Kavanagh hasn’t.
Am I saying he’s biased specifically?
No, he’s probably not, I like to think.
But I do now have serious suspicions that there is bias in the game because it needs to suit Sky’s agenda.
Would it have suited Sky if Man City had won the league today?
No, of course not. Interest in the league would have automatically disappeared and it just suits perfectly that Man Utd win and the contest remains open.
That said, we didn’t help ourselves in that two of Utd’s goals were extremely soft.
The first one, a penalty, was downright ridiculous. Pogba was moving away from goal and begging to be clattered. Douglas Luiz duly obliged with a stupid challenge from behind.
That was the third penalty awarded against us in the last four Villa – Man Utd games.
That’s either massively bad luck or there’s a bit of a pattern here.
I don’t remember too many games these days, but I do remember us having a blatant penalty turned down in our last cup final, which was also against Utd.
Now I’m not suggesting for one minute that the decision for the first goal was wrong. It wasn’t.
But then, Ollie Watkins had a claim turned down when it seemed obvious to me that Henderson had made contact with the striker’s leg with his foot. For me, it was acceptable if you thought Henderson was pulling out of a tackle.
It was also acceptable if you thought he hadn’t made enough contact to warrant a red for the goalkeeper.
But to book Ollie for diving? That’s ridiculous.
Even if Henderson hadn’t pulled out, it certainly looked like he was going to seriously clatter the attacker and who can blame him for trying to avoid it?
I wouldn’t have given a decision either way and would just have let play continue.
And I say that as someone who is often the first one to say if I think the opposition deserve a penalty.
And then we had Maguires’s injury. I thought if it looked like treatment was going to last quite a while, the usual practice was to get them stretchered off to be treated on the touchline or whatever.
Whatever, he was sat for minutes and Solsjaer was given lots of time to explain tactics to the substitute.
Innocent? Possibly so, but these things stack up and I wasn’t happy.
Which is really annoying, as I’m sure I’ll now be looking out for this sort of thing and joining the many of those who predicted decisions going against us and Utd being awarded a penalty today. And were proved 100% correct.
As for the actual football, after a poor start, we warmed into the game and often took it to Utd with some decent play. Barkley was none-existant for me, Matt Cash struggled because he wasn’t being helped out by Traore as he faced a two pronged attack and was being swamped. How often have we heard that this season? Either Traore is thick in not doing his defensive duty or it’s down to Dean Smith telling him to stay forward. I’m not sure which it is, but I’m sick of seeing it.
And then, just as I’m writing how poor he is, so he goes to score a corker.
I probably should have deleted the comment, but I like to keep things honest. As is often the case, he made me look a right mug and I have to smile.
But just as Traore can be brilliant, he can often be a liability too. And I don’t like liabilities at the best of times, which is making me think he’d make a better impact player that you bring in as a sub.
I’m not going to go into the second goal too much, but I think it was poor from Mings.
Anything over £35 million and he’d be sold. He’s another liability as much as he does some good stuff. I’m sure a decent scout could find better for way less money.
Luiz? Well, yes, he was stupid and should have learned a lesson already, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.
Otherwise, it was mostly good. Martinez could probably have done better for the second goal, but he was otherwise pretty solid. He’s been awesome this season, so you just can’t knock him really, can you?
The two full backs were fine. I don’t recall Konsa doing much wrong. McGinn was lively and more back to his usual self with his workrate. El Ghazi was quiet and Watkins did his usual thing.
I think, to be honest, Man Utd were just the better team and their quality won out. I made a point of pointing out their bench compared to ours and it was proved, as they brought on Cavani who went on to score a very decent goal.
I know some of us think the world of Wesley, Davis and Ramsay, but the truth is they’re nowhere near the same class yet.
I’ve no doubt that our options will improve next season.
Then I think we’ll be in a better position to judge Dean Smith’s tactics.
Ultimately, I’m not overly upset about today.
We played the right way and while not a great game for us, it was a lot more watchable than of late.
Everton on Thursday and after last week, we should hopefully have a chance of 3 points.