Call it what you will, football has a funny habit of throwing up fixtures that carry extra meaning. Newcastle, having had their relegation delivered to them at Villa Park & being humiliated in the process, have never recovered or forgiven us.
So much so, that 6 years on, they are desperate to put a nail into our coffin. Sorry chaps, we are though more than capable of doing that all by ourselves, thank you.
It is an unpredictable fixture for many reasons. Newcastle are on the back of two important recent victories. However, I view them as equally as poor as Villa. Unconvincing going forward and scary at the back. It’s not difficult or a great leap to draw parallels. Where our fortunes differ, perhaps, is that the immediacy of a victory is now completely on our side of the fence.
Beat Newcastle, and the mental lift that would provide our side ahead of a cluster of winnable fixtures, cannot be understated. A defeat, whilst turning the tables of goading firmly around, would place our survival in serious doubt. It wouldn’t be over, but the task becomes ever more unlikely if we are unable to damage teams like Newcastle.
I also don’t predict a pretty encounter. In the event Villa can seize the initiative, players like Veretout and Ayew will presumably be the key. My gut feeling is that a victory can only be predicted by a narrow margin; a solitary goal being the likeliest route. Our defence also has to show greater solidity and recognise our impotency going forward means we cannot be expecting to score 2 & 3 goals away from home to win football matches.
As mentioned above, Newcastle are no great outfit. Measure this against their fans revised aspirations; beating Aston Villa. A city that once had delusions of grandeur under Keegan and co, now finds itself getting excited over a Mike Ashley/Steve McClaren double act. Few things are enviable at Aston Villa recently, but I count us lucky to be spared such a set-up.
The phrase “must-win” is banded around in football too often & we should know in recent years. However, the table doesn’t lie. This is a winnable fixture. This is the type of team we must beat to survive. Pondering the possibility of starting a revival “next week” is no longer an option. Saturday morning, the 19th of December, our great football club wakes up with 6 points on the board. A woeful, unavoidable, unacceptable truth.
It must be rectified & pride is the least of our worries.
Tom Fox Speaks: A reaction.
I don’t dislike Tom Fox. When he speaks, he sounds a pragmatic, thoughtful leader of business. Where I feel he falls short, at least at Aston Villa, is understanding that this is the business of football.
Tom’s interview [ you can listen here ] is, in my view at least, a useful insight into how we now operate. However, this pragmatic, long term plan that is in motion under his stewardship is only doing Aston Villa harm on the pitch. I personally don’t see the separation between our commercial successes and those that occur on the pitch. Tom cannot take credit on financial progress but absolve himself of accountability for the significant downturn on the football front.
I do understand the need to operate efficiently, within our means and that our ways of recruiting had not yielded us success in the Premier League era. Yet, despite our apparent woeful shortcomings, we were never rooted to the foot of the table and appearing so dysfunctional as a club in its entirety. Again, I’m not saying life was perfect, I am the last person to be revisionist, but I cannot see how the steps taken to date, or those apparently on the horizon are going to improve us.
The real concern is the lack of urgency. Something I personally see on the field of play at times. Do we genuinely as a football club understand the possible implications of a relegation? The path of Leeds, Sheffield Wednesday, Man City (until bankrolled) etc is not one which inspires confidence. There are other clubs who I would consider to be languishing to whom we could draw comparison, but you no doubt get the point.
And just a short word on the club unfollowing 47 thousand fans on Twitter.
The point as to why this is a blunder is a simple one for me.
It is not a matter of personally feeling “upset”, or deluding oneself that the club reads fan messages etc, rather, it is the message this sends out.
The club need not have done anything. The action achieves nothing other than raise a bemused eyebrow & disenfranchises some people even further. The puzzling selection of accounts then re-followed by the club, serves only the illustrate this. So much so, it defies reasonable analysis.
For me, it evidences the lack of care the club takes to its interactions with supporters. Does it bother me, no. Does it bother some, yes & they are entitled to feel that this is another example of the club both blundering it’s public relations & disregarding those who support it.
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