Aston Villa’s defeat at Old Trafford wasn’t all that bad, claims Ron Vlaar.
With Manchester City losing at Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, Manchester United knew they would be crowned champions with a win against Villa on Monday night. And although the Midlands club are desperate for points themselves as they battle relegation, they were no competition for the Reds who stormed into a 3-0 lead after just 33 minutes.
Villa fans must at that time have been fearing a repeat of the 8-0 loss at Chelsea back in December, when the Blues were also 3-0 up after a similar amount of time. So Vlaar is relieved that he and his team-mates managed to shut up shop after his Dutch compatriot Robin van Persie completed the hat-trick that clinched the title for the Reds.
“It’s a positive thing,” said the 28-year-old. “We all know what happened at Chelsea and it didn’t happen this time. Some people expected it but it’s an improvement. The second half was a lot better, we had better positions, we didn’t lose possession and kept the spaces a lot smaller. It was more difficult for Manchester United. We are four goals behind Wigan Athletic so we have to get enough points. Everyone feels responsible.”
Villa are in action on Monday again next week, when Sunderland, rejuvenated under Paolo di Canio and one win away from survival, visit the Midlands. Paul Lambert’s side then head to another side not quite out of trouble, Norwich City, before they get chance to avenge that 8-0 thrashing when Chelsea provide the opposition at Villa Park.
But already many pundits are pointing to the final match of the season as being the decisive match, when they go to Wigan. The Lancashire side pulled off a miraculous escape act last season, but have again been sucked into trouble this time round. Roberto Martinez’s men have already reached the FA Cup final against Manchester City, which will be played a week before the final game of the campaign, but they insist they will not be distracted by their Wembley date.
“We have been in this position before and know what to expect but that doesn’t make it easier,” Martinez told Sky Sports earlier this month. “It is going to be a really tough ending of the season and for me it is the hardest battle we have had for a few years but we are ready for it. It is a really exciting period with an FA Cup final right in the middle of it.”