Aston Villa 0 Liverpool 2
Excuses, excuses. David O'Leary has a limitless supply and sees no problem in making full use of them when, as is often these days, Aston Villa lose.
Obviously, it is never his fault. Like George W Bush, O'Leary sees mea culpa as a sign of weakness.
It was therefore lost on the Villa manager that the man who changed this match, and ensured a Liverpool victory, was the same Peter Crouch whom O'Leary sold to Southampton for £2 million in the summer of 2004.
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Crouch has hardly covered himself in glory this season - he has still yet to score - but did more in 22 minutes on Saturday than any Villa player did in 90.
O'Leary blamed the referee, Steve Bennett, for Liverpool's victory but that was surely out of desperation. There were many reasons for Villa's defeat - bad luck, missed chances, rare quality from the opposition etc - but O'Leary went for the easiest victim of all.
There are those Villa supporters who will believe that Liam Ridgewell did not foul Crouch in the 85th minute but Bennett awarded Liverpool a penalty, Steven Gerrard scored, and Villa crumbled like a cheap pie.
Xabi Alonso scored the second goal in the final minute with a low shot from 20 yards.
"I'm not happy with the penalty," O'Leary said, the steam eminating from his ears. "It's a bad decision. End of story. We are going to have 100 penalties every game if they are given for those type of challenges.
"The referee couldn't wait to give certain decisions in favour of their big players. I'd just leave it at that. It was a bad decision. I didn't think it was a penalty. It changed the game. If those are given, you see a lot of penalties."
Harsh words from a disillusioned man. But O'Leary has to start believing that these are his players, not those of any other manager, and that Villa are no better than they were during the latter days of the Graham Taylor era or the John Gregory era.
At some point, O'Leary must look at himself and consider if he has any responsibility for Villa's plight in the bottom five of the Premiership table.
Even in defeats, there were causes for optimism. Until the final five minutes, when Liverpool finally looked like European champions, Villa's two beleaguered central defenders - Olof Mellberg and Liam Ridgewell - performed admirably.
And Villa created an abundance of fine chances, the best of which fell to Juan Pablo Angel in the second half. A goal then and Villa would surely have won. But luck, like talent, is a gift. You need both to be successful.
"We defended better than we have been," O'Leary said. "We played a higher line, which I have been wanting to do for a long time. I know they scored two goals but we were better.
"We have been working on defensive stuff all season because that has been a problem for us and it's the first time I got the high line defensively that I really want."
It was a difficult afternoon for Villa, even against a poor Liverpool team. O'Leary's men lack confidence and seem to be debilitated by fear. The midfield struggled against their Liverpool counterparts - Gerrard and Alonso were short of their best but still dominant - and Villa seemed incoherent.
It was, overall, a bad match with little atmosphere. Perhaps these early kick-offs are self-defeating, for few punters watching at home would have regarded it as money well spent. For those who turned up to give Villa their best home attendance of the season, it was pretty depressing.
It says much that the best players on the pitch were the defenders and the most significant aspect was the arrival, in the 68th minute, of Crouch. To be fair, Crouch was never an out-and-out goalscorer, but he is surprisingly quick on the floor and has the knack of causing defenders problems.
Villa would be a better team if Crouch was there but O'Leary never wanted him.