Follow us on Twitter @claretandview // Words by Mark Jirobe (@VillaMarkPGH)
It took me a few days to really digest the loss to Wolves.
I remember thinking the entire international break: “Villa have got this. It may not be a pretty game, but the quality we do have will outshine Wolves.”
I was optimistic. Ignorantly, woefully, and selflessly optimistic.
Hell, I even requested the day off of work as soon as the fixture lists were released.
From the comfort of my living room, with a six-pack of beer and a 1998 home Villa shirt, I was befuddled while watching the game. The tempo of Villa was just off. The strike-force of Kodjia and Davis looked to be closer to the moon than Molineux. Snodgrass and Adomah seemed to be so left out in a wide position, it almost felt like their instruction was to hold the ball there and pray they could beat their man. It failed.
You could feel it happening. Villa were not the better side on the day. But, I’m not here to talk about the Wolves game as a whole. I’m here to talk about the feeling I had leading up to the game, and more specifically, the last time I felt this type of optimism for Aston Villa as a whole.
You see, being a Villa supporter isn’t easy. I don’t say that with any sort of pity or sad connotation. No, you’ve just got to have some pretty big stones to be a Villa fan through and through. The bad times have been bad. The good times have been few. The knee-jerk reactions have been plenty. Coming off of an 8-game unbeaten run, there was obvious reason to be optimistic. So, why did I feel so… nervous? You see, as much as we would have all liked to watch Villa shove it down Wolves supporters throats, there has to be a marker set in terms of how supporters are viewing Aston Villa in recent times.
Recent times. Not old-fashioned, archaic and outdated times. Here and now. At this moment. Not 25 years ago. Not 50 years ago. Presently.
Facts are facts, and Villa are still in early days of this campaign. So, ask yourself this question honestly:
Is losing to Wolves after an 8 game unbeaten run the end of the world?
I can’t say that it is, at least not to me. That’s one loss in nine games. That’s equivalent to one loss in around 810 minutes of football. That has to invoke optimism around all of the supporters. If it doesn’t, I don’t know why you watch the game. Do we all want Aston Villa to finish the season with automatic promotion? Probably more than anything else, barring winning a giant lottery. Again, will it be the end of the world and Aston Villa as we know it?
No. It won’t.
I’d absolutely love to see the Aston Villa supporters start cheering this team on like they never have before. It is no secret Villa have some of the best fans in England, not only in the Championship. I”m sure the players are just as thrilled of their performance against Wolves just like we all are… but, football in the Championship is surely a marathon and not a brisk walk on the beach. There will be setbacks. There will be injuries. There will be hard times to be had. There will be unbeaten runs, and beaten runs accordingly. While this specific fixture may have set down the marker in terms of quality between Villa and Wolves, it did not draw a line in the sand in terms of passion and optimism. At least it shouldn’t. There have been some very positive things that have happened in the last 9 games. Steve Bruce seems to finally have a concrete first-team. The first-team has proven they can defend well with a lead. Villa have proven they can attain points away from Villa Park. Even players who have been sold up the river by most supporters have played pretty pivotal role, regardless of your opinion of them…
Yes, I’m talking about Glenn Whelan.
We could even be optimistically positive in the fact that Jack Grealish has started training a full workload again, and even featured for 60 minutes for the under-23’s. I don’t believe anyone is truly hanging their hat on Super Jack being our saving grace, especially coming off such a painful and shocking injury. But, Villa could use all the help they can get. Alas, it must start with help from optimistic and true supporters.
With Fulham and Blues on the horizon, I’m not so nervous this time. Fulham will be a tough task, but they surely are not unbeatable. The Blues clash will be a fairly scrappy affair, as well. I have an inside source that tells me that Gabby Agbonlahor will be on the bench for that one. No matter what. If that doesn’t get you optimistic, check your pulse.
Let’s see what you’ve got, Villa.