Stunning Wembley display confirms both Villa’s & Sherwood’s potential. #avfc

What odds could you have secured on this turnaround in fortunes?  After the crushing defeat to Hull, calamity against Stoke & impossibility of losing away to a team like Newcastle, who could have predicted where we are now?  What a remarkable, superb & entirely deserved result.

It’s common I retreat into my shell at this time of year, particularly in the last 4/5 seasons, as the run in is almost beyond rational comment.  The notion of us being involved in the Cup is normally in itself a certain fantasy.  Villa have, and continue to, lurch wildly between the sublime to the abysmal.  Finally, it appears we have a manager willing to roll the dice and drag Villa kicking and screaming from obscurity.

There’s a unfamiliar feeling emerging under the early stewardship of Sherwood.  We have a swagger, belief & desire.  These are not “renewed” attributes, they are completely “new” to the modern Aston Villa.  It’s a revelation.  Sunday’s masterclass against a neutralised Liverpool stands as the best evidence yet of this being the case – and it’s wonderful.

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Though there obviously remains a job to be done in the league, Villa are now unrecognisable from the team which was meekly slipping out of the top flight.  The lame, rudderless, atrocity of the Lambert approach has been washed away.  It has been replaced with a tsunami of self belief, verve & most importantly, the results to match.

Sunday’s victory will live long in the memory for a host of reasons, but it was telling how much it meant to the men on the pitch.  It felt for the first time in many years that it mattered as much to the eleven pulling on our historic shirt, as to those roaring them on from the glorious new Wembley.  When was the last time you witnessed celebrations (ok, West Brom aside..) like that?  I cannot recall seeing a Villa team run in unison at the fans, let alone to a rampant Wembley crowd.

It was also well earned, nothing can sufficiently overstate the performance, it was sublime.  The victory was hard fought, won from a goal behind and with a squad severely hampered by injuries both prior and during the game.  Whilst I think the term “underdogs” implies that Liverpool remain a force in football, Villa ignored the media label and did a professional, thrilling job of reminding the world exactly where we should belong.

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Liverpool had no response to the strength of Benteke, the guile of Delph or the unknown, but emerging quantity that is Jack Grealish.  Tom Cleverley was as dominant as he was accomplished.  It was though, a sorry, painful showing from the faded star that is Gerrard.  Liverpool must also deal with the raft of average recruits & egos adorning their team sheet.  They sit a million miles away from their glorious past, let alone competing with the English elite.  It was no surprise to me that their fans sat silently, save to roundly boo their starlets at full time.

Overall it was a showing of the improvements driven by Sherwood.  The obvious beneficiary is Benteke, but nor should it not go unnoticed that Grealish was used to little or no effect under Lambert.  I must admit that the fleeting glimpses of Grealish under PL had yielded little of note.  Further evidence if you needed any of Lambert’s shortcomings.  There are of course others amongst the squad who are resurrected under the new regime, the list is seemingly endless.

And therefore the potential is there for all to see.  With the resurrection of lost souls and the opportunity for summer recruitment, there is finally a positive outlook to be grasped.  As a fan, positivity and potential goes a long way.  It drives my interest, moreso than blind hope that things will “come good”.  It’s tangible, I can see where the manager wants to take us & that’s a phenomenal change in outlook for our football club.

Villa also have the luxury of a massive fanbase.  A fanbase that is desperate to roar on effort at the very least.  I’d wager you would be hard-pressed to find a fan of any club who wouldn’t back his club, even in defeat, so long as they approached the game in the right manner.

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This is where Sherwood get’s it so right & the Lambert’s, indeed Rodger’s of this world, so wrong.  Football isn’t complicated, it needn’t be an array of tactical complexity or tinkering.  As the famous adage goes, its about sticking the ball in the back of the net more than the opposition.

Whilst that undoubtedly oversimplifies modern management, a back to basics approach and playing to your strengths goes a long way.  Taking tips from Bayern Munich, instilling possession football & the “Barcelona way” work great until you realise Messi, Goetze & Ribery aren’t knocking about Bodymoor Heath.

Equally, it is easy to get carried away, but the steep curve of improvement, is remarkable.  Sherwood has steered a truly objectionable footballing team he inherited to the final of the FA Cup.  Of the bottom cluster of relegation candidates, we sit plum top of the points and form table.  Sherwood looks an astute acquisition by Tom Fox.  The latter looks as much a steal, so credit to Lerner there.  If Sherwood keeps us up, he has worked a miracle.  If he keeps us up and wins and FA Cup…Christ.

Sherwood’s predecessor would have fell at the Leicester 5th Round hurdle.  I’ve no doubt, none whatsoever, that West Brom would have turned us over at Villa Park.  The FA Cup would be a guarantted non-issue.  

In terms of the league, following the Hull defeat, we were a dead stick.  Beat West Brom in the league?  No chance.  Beat Tottenham at White Hart Lane?  You’d have been sectioned for suggesting it.

Commentator’s derided Villa for their on field celebrations in the quarter finals.  Opposing fans scratched their heads at the pitch invasion.  I simply point you to our passion, the highs we had become accustomed to, bought into as fans & then the reality that our great club has sat in the shadows.

For too long Aston Villa has been a byword for obscurity, underachievement or the also-rans.  May 30th 2015 represents a chance to add to our glorious history, explore our potential & taste what we hope Aston Villa may once more become.  Maybe, just maybe, it’s our turn?

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