I understand that it is hard to be positive at the moment. Our club is teetering precariously, the weather is apocalyptic and life is challenging for people on a number of fronts.
Still, mustn’t grumble.
Having abstained from match reports for the last three weeks, it was about time I threw my hat back into the ring. My reason for holding back of late? A simple desire to see where we would be post Liverpool. And we really should be happy, or indeed, happier given that life could look far bleaker.
Defeat to Liverpool seems to have knocked the stuffing out of a number of fans. The reality is that whilst Liverpool are not amongst the big boys, they have enough to see us off right now. It’s not how we’d want it, but regardless of what you think of the Suarez’s of this world, they’re roadmap is different to Villa’s.
To illustrate my point; assume we had lost at Anfield in December. Now assume we had beaten then Sunday instead. Catch my drift?
The objective amongst us have longer memories. Not just of past campaigns but also the vital recent victories against QPR and Reading. These are the points that will keep a team in the top flight. The significance of effectively consigning both immediate rivals to relegation should not be overlooked. Both sides would have earmarked Villa as a must win, a springboard with which to leapfrog us and build some momentum for the closing weeks.
As it stands, they will need a miracle to stay up. In the case of QPR an understanding bank manager as well.
The situation is far from ideal for Villa as many commentators and sections of our following are quick to point out. However, we are playing better, albeit with immaturity at times, but the form table reflects the gradual turnaround. It’s not always pretty, but with a manager in his first season trying to blend inexperience with the failures of predecessors, what on earth do we expect? Yes, there have been tactical errors and awful displays, but we have to look forward.
We can spend a lifetime reflecting on an instantly forgettable 6 months, and so long as we correct the mistakes, we should consign this period to the compost heap.
Collectively we must hold onto this sense of realism and perspective. Of course Wigan will mount an end of season charge, with Champions League form. Of course there will be teams around us winning when we would rather they capitulated (Southampton) – but the season continues and for every advance by one club, another drops closer to the trapdoor.
Sunderland look the most likely candidates having appointed Di Canio. His lack of grace and sportsmanship were on full show against Villa when they faced Swindon in the cup earlier this season. It’s an astonishing appointment given his on the field behaviour and his off the field expressions. Nothing good can come of his involvement, aside from Villa securing the points when we face off shortly. A team that cannot score and with Titus Bramble at the heart of defence? I cannot wait.
I would also cast a glance at Newcastle’s slide. I remember sitting on the Holte End following their victory and watching billy big time Steven Taylor celebrate like he’d won on England cap. Villa were not only at their utmost poorest that evening but Newcastle were buoyed by a one man show from new signing Sissoko. Since then theyve done exactly nothing to suggest they’re safe. The Magpies look very precarious indeed with Pardew doing his best Costa Concordia captain routine.
And so the message is this. We have the time, we have more momentum than others and the penny seems to have dropped for a very young Villa side. Do they want to be remembered for heroics when a creaking old club needed them most? Or as the collective that resigned itself to an avoidable fate?
In recent weeks I’ve seen enough to warrant optimism. The battle is there, the confidence destroyed at Chelsea is returning and for the first time under Lambert a self belief (think Westwood, Wiemann & Lowton) is forming. Can Sunderland, Newcastle, Stoke or Norwich confidently state the same?
Come the 38th game, all will become clearer. I’m sure.