We, the glorious Aston Villa head to Sheffield United in the hope that we are spared a ritual – indeed almost annual – humiliation in the FA Cup. In recent years we have had erratic form in the competition – 1957 is a long time ago – whilst as Villa fans we are bred to live and breathe our fine history, it’s time we started to compete again. There is however the small matter of our current temperament to deal with first.
On current form this could make for an interesting encounter. The Blades are scrabbling around the lower echelons on the Championship table, and Villa are trying their hardest to set a new record for the worst form guide in living memory. The murmurs last night amongst those we choose to converse with was not positive, though neither was it negative. Aston Villa are unpredictable this season, and it’s been a while since we’ve had to contend with that. So who knows what will happen over ninety minutes at Bramall lane.
Perversely this is not a “must win” – it would work wonders for overall confidence just to get a win – so back off Villatalkers – but our focus this season lies elsewhere. With a squad as threadbare as ours Premiership survival is our objective. A couple of wins would of course change all that, but until those wins occur, is a fifty year old dream a feasible objective or indeed justifiable?
Now I am not saying we should field a team of foetuses, but I do believe that Mr. Houllier might take a view on this fixture in the wider context. Further, he might consider this the time to blood the youth again as our first string seem utterly devoid of ideas, creativity and goals.
Houllier is in dangerous territory though, as if he wins he will get no plaudits for beating a poor Sheffield United team – but if we lose – all kinds of overreactions are foreseeable. Thus a prediction is in order: Scrappy, head in hands, away victory.