Yes, it sounds ridiculous to say but I am happy to lose to Man Utd. I am not happy that we didn’t get at least a point from that game but I am happy after the game. You may ask why I am happy. Well, I am happy to lose to Man Utd because we showed the football world that Aston Villa is back. We have had lots of good results this season. We stuffed Liverpool, we outclassed Arsenal and we showed our resilience against Chelsea. Against Man Utd we showed the level of football we are now playing.
Barely 6 months ago we were fighting for our survival in the Premier League. Against West Ham, after the final whistle, with 38 games completed, we had amassed 35 points. Yet our players and coaches were still huddled in the centre of Upton Park (or whatever it is now called) awaiting the result from Highbury (or whatever it is called now. It was that close whether we were relegated or survived.
We survived that scare to start the 2020/21 season in the Premier League. But none of us knew what sort of season we would have this time around. Were we going to struggle in the bottom 3 again? Were we going to have a comfortable 15h place in the league? We just didn’t know! We lost to Man Utd last night but the performance told us the sort of season we can look forward to.
Aston Villa Is Back
Aston Villa is back at the top table. We are no longer looking for scraps like The Blues or The Baggies do. We leave the scraps for them, at the right price (Scott Hogan) and we also benefit from any riches they may uncover (Louie Barry). The game against Man Utd was the game that confirmed to me that Aston Villa is back and that is why I am happy to lose to Man Utd. We went toe to toe with Man Utd. Man Utd is a top 4 team. Our performance showed albeit we lost, that we are knocking on the door. We are not there yet but we are getting damn close.
In my previous blog post, I wrote about keeping out feet on the ground. I appreciate this is very difficult to do with how much, and how quickly we are improving. But the Man Utd game may just help us to reset our expectations. I would love nothing more than for Villa to do a Leicester but I am a fairly balanced bloke and like to deal with reality. Avoiding a relegation fight this year is a big success for Villa. It will show that coaching is working. It will help our owners to justify their continued investment in our great club. NSWE are getting a positive return on their investment and that is really important. Everything is looking rosy in the Villas garden.
We all discuss our players. We all judge them on their performances. Some of us let our narrative influence their opinions and some let the player’s performance influence their opinions. There are question marks with Cash, Traore, El Ghazi, Trezeguet, Targett, Konsa and Davis and others I haven’t mentioned. Sorry, there are also some that believe Mings is shyte and shouldn’t be near our first 11. The bottom line is that we are a team that just avoided relegation and are knocking on the door of the top 6. Yes, our players have faults. They are not all top 6, although some would definitely not look out of place playing for Liverpool, City or Man Utd. But as a team, we are improving.
It would be naive to think we could challenge for the league or for Champions League qualification. Some of our current squad were part of the 1st 11 that made up our Championship team. If we are to be realistic, what do fans actually expect? As individuals, I could highlight faults in every one of our players. As a team and considering the stage in our development I couldn’t fault a single player. In two or three years time our team will look completely different as we develop. We will be challenging for top 4 and Europe. For now, I am very happy with each and every one of our players.
January Transfer Window
The transfer window is now open. Aston Villa has already signed a 13-year-old goalkeeper for 100k. What will, or what should Aston Villa do during the next 31 days? Our younger fans will probably suggest buying 2 or 3 marquee signings and trying to challenge the elite clubs. After all, they are having a poor start to the season and isn’t this our opportunity? Luckily we have a sensible CEO and astute owners. We won’t be chasing the improbable and we will be continuing with our strategy that was implemented over two years ago.
If we sign anybody, it will be to develop our squad. I think everyone that comments on this blog have said how weak our bench is. BFR highlights this during each game. And guess what, he is absolutely right! We simply do not have the strength in depth to continue knocking on the door of the top sides. We need to develop a squad before we start to have thoughts above our station.
Onwards And Upwards
We are doing brilliantly. Our players, for all their faults, are a great team. We need a little luck with injuries and we can maybe challenge the top 7. Relegation is not a worry this season. Job done Dean Smith! Thank You!
I have had a few beers, I didn’t intend to write a blog post but I have felt the happiest I have ever felt after a loss as a Villa supporter. I just felt I had to write something. Also, I mentioned to the Mrs that I haven’t had sex this year and nor have Villa won a game. I was hoping she would take the hint and realise that having sex was required before the Spurs game. But she said we should not have sex until Villa win again to keep things interesting. Crikey! She must have seen our upcoming fixtures!