Football: Language of football is garbled

Aston Villa 3 Crystal Palace 1

By Paul Newman

Aston Villa 3 Crystal Palace 1

It must have been just like that television advert for KitKat: a football manager trying in vain to get his message across to his foreign players by using hand gestures, facial expressions and, in the end, an interpreter.

The only difference in the Crystal Palace dressing-room at Villa Park on Saturday was that the man doing the team talk was the overseas import. Attilio Lombardo, Palace's new player-manager, delivered his pre-match team talk in his best Italian while an assistant translated.

As Lombardo admitted afterwards, maybe something was lost in translation. Fifty-six seconds into the game Villa's Fernando Nelson crossed for the unmarked Ian Taylor to head home from eight yards. Within 35 minutes Palace were three goals down and on their way to a club record eighth successive League defeat, which also equals the worst run in Premiership history.

"The players failed to put into practice what I had told them," Lombardo said - via the obligatory interpreter - after the match. "Maybe it was the language problem. I was a bit disappointed and I thought that my message hadn't got across to them."

Lombardo, however, was surely being kind to his shell-shocked players. Palace's first half defending was dreadful in anybody's language, as it has been since the turn of the year. Having begun the season so promisingly and defended with such assurance, their defence is now a shambles.

Neil Emblen, a pounds 2m purchase from Wolves, looked ill at ease in the centre of the back five, while Valerien Ismael, signed from Strasbourg for a club record fee of pounds 2.8m, once again made elementary mistakes. When he gave away the second goal by bringing down Julian Joachim the Frenchman's play was naive in the extreme as he let his opponent get goalside of him.

Bad habits can become infectious and the normally reliable Marc Edworthy committed a similar mistake when he gave Savo Milosevic too much room for Villa's third.

Lombardo may well make a name for himself as a coach one day, but in Palace's current situation it seems extraordinary that Mark Goldberg, the prospective owner who appears to be pulling all the Selhurst strings these days, can believe that a player with strictly limited English and no coaching experience can do better than the experienced and respected Steve Coppell, who has been moved upstairs.

Palace may have slid alarmingly under Coppell, but he had confirmed his ability in the first third of the season and had been having to cope with a lengthy injury list and the unsettling backdrop of Goldberg's proposed take-over. There are also serious question marks over how much influence Coppell had on transfer policy.

Just about the only ray of sunlight in Palace's day was the stunning consolation goal scored by their recent pounds 1m recruit from Carlisle, Matt Jansen, who jinked through the Villa defence before crashing a left-foot shot into the corner of the net from 25 yards.

By that stage Villa, who had been in total control in the first half, had taken their foot off the accelerator, aware that they face the most important match of their season so far when they entertain Atletico Madrid in the second leg of their Uefa Cup quarter-final tomorrow night.

Milosevic, who showed some exquisite touches, will have helped his claim for a place with his two goals, but John Gregory, the Villa manager, was giving few clues as to their line-up. Dwight Yorke and Stan Collymore should be available again and Gregory hinted that he might leave a big name or two on the bench.

"Sometimes you need to bring your best player on with 30 minutes to go because he can lift the crowd and the team," Gregory said. "The big Continental clubs always have good players on the bench."

Tomorrow will be Villa's sixth game in 18 days and Gregory admitted that his team looked jaded. "There were a lot of heavy legs in the second half and mentally we looked a bit drained," he said. "But three points was the only thing that mattered today."

Goals: Taylor (1) 1-0; Milosevic (14 pen) 2-0; Milosevic (35) 3-0; Jansen (62) 3-1.

Aston Villa (5-3-2): Bosnich; Nelson (Charles, 72), Ehiogu, Southgate, Staunton, Wright; Taylor, Draper (Grayson, 53), Hendrie; Milosevic, Joachim. Substitutes not used: Collins, Byfield, Oakes (gk).

Crystal Palace (5-3-2): Miller; Smith, Ismael, Emblen (Rodger, 45), Edworthy, Gordon; Bent (Lombardo, 62), Brolin, Fullarton; Dyer, Shipperley (Jansen, 56). Substitutes not used: Linighan, Nash (gk).

Bookings: Villa: Milosevic, Staunton. Palace: Ismael.

Referee: G P Barber (Pyrford).

Man of the match: Milosevic.

Attendance: 33,781

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Games Developer - HTML5

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With extensive experience and a...

Recruitment Genius: Personal Tax Senior

£26000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Product Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Due to on-going expansion, this leading provid...

Recruitment Genius: Shift Leaders - Front of House Staff - Full Time and Part Time

£6 - £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a family ...

Day In a Page

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Atwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works
Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade
10 best waterproof mascaras

Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey

Diego Costa: I go to war. You come with me...

Chelsea's rampaging striker had to fight his way from a poor city in Brazil to life at the top of the Premier League. A new book speaks to those who shared his journey
Ashes 2015: England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

The biggest problem facing them in Birmingham was the recovery of the zeitgeist that drained so quickly under the weight of Australian runs at Lord's, says Kevin Garside
Women's Open 2015: Charley Hull - 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

Charley Hull: 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

British teen keeps her feet on ground ahead of Women's Open
Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'