Villa Reflection: A tale of two owners, Westwood: BooGate & Bruce’s Price is Right.

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Aren’t these international breaks awful?

Repeatedly convincing yourself you’re interested in obscure televised qualifiers, self harming to the idea that Jordan Henderson is a professional & discovering what non-football folk do with their Saturdays.  Frightful.

Even considering the last five years form, we wouldn’t look forward to the respite an international break could bring.  

We all knew in those dark years that the inevitable squad “regrouping” at Bodymoor Heath, would just result in more of the same.  You can’t improve a Tonev or a Bowery with any amount of intensive training from Tim Sherwood after-all.

These days though, change is in the air.  We have for the first time in a good long period, fell foul of what is an annoying interlude, breaking a long overdue spell of momentum for the football club.  Typical.

The fact that we have taken three wins in five since Steve Bruce arrived and negotiated two derbies (challenging for different reasons) is certainly cause of optimism.  

[*Pause whilst all remind themselves of the definition of Optimism*]

Optimism isn’t something that recent visitors to Villa Park, Blackburn Rovers’ fans, will likely have much of.

As spirited a performance as some of their players put in, there was the stench of wretched ownership hanging over both their performance & football club.  

As Villa fans, we can have some sympathy, but must also recognise that not even Randy Lerner managed to sink to the depths that the Venky’s have taken Rovers to.

As supporters, we have parked our uncertainty over exactly who our new owner is & embraced Dr Tony’s unorthodox but single minded approach towards improving our beleaguered football club.

Contrast this to the Lancashire clubs fans, who must wonder exactly what they have done to deserve such dismal luck.  Additionally, with the club being described as “completely worthless as a saleable commodity”, the prospect of their Indian owners moving the club on remains slim.

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The match at Villa Park also featured the [borderline] non-story of an Ashley Westwood booing.

Even by Westwood’s standards of general disdain, it was pretty unfortunate to be booed onto the field of play.  [Or quite an achievement, depending upon how you look at it.]

Now, there is some debate as to whether the boos occurred, in what number and whether the moon landings were in fact faked.  However, booing certainly occurred against Wolves when the former Crewe player appeared on the touchline to replace Mile Jedinak in Bruce’s first match in charge.

This is a tricky subject, because the rational mind tells you that booing a player onto a pitch is self defeating, pointless and pretty tin-pot in nature.  It helps the opposition team much more than it does Villa, that’s for sure.

However, Westwood’s mere presence in an Aston Villa shirt can also provoke synapses to fire and unknown chemicals to react in ones bloodstream.  And that’s nothing to do with the dubious Villa Park catering.

Take Westwood out of the equation and it becomes a very bizarre thing indeed.  It’s mindless.  Given the [deserved] hatred towards some of the players last season, very few actually found themselves singularly targeted.  Bacuna & Lescott aside maybe.

But, equally sit back and reflect upon some of the performances that this incredibly disappointing midfielder has put in and it makes more sense.  Not total sense, but some.

It’s hard to overlook the countless occasions where the game has passed him by or in which his inability to effect a game has cost us.  He is also either guilty of being unable to improve or perhaps worse, actually being as good as he’s going to be.

Westwood may also be as much a victim of our failure as his own shortcomings.  Perhaps the worst thing to happen to him was the possession football inflicted by Paul Lambert.  As a result he seems almost impotent to endanger a defence, content to pass sideways & never daring to make a forward ball which carries mere minimal threat.

The biggest challenge Westwood probably faces is not only convincing those [minority] who boo him not to, but perhaps resurrecting a Villa career which for all his loyalty, has rarely looked like contributing to a consistently high standard.

Would anyone be surprised if he was replaced with midfield strengthening a priority in the next transfer window?  Hardly.

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And finally, short mention for the impact of Steve Bruce.

5 games, 3 wins, 2 draws, no defeats & 11 points.

That will do nicely for a start!

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