This is an open letter to you – from a fellow fan. We might not agree on some opinions, and we might not see eye to eye on many other things, but we share something, and that’s a love for Aston Villa.
Whether you’re a Holte Ender or a fan that holds a season ticket in their arm chair, you’ve got the right to express an opinion until you’re red in the face – we all do. But there are some opinions that generally don’t sit well amongst fans.
Whilst it’s understandable that some of you may still be angst-ridden because of our long-time-coming relegation, or our position in the Championship last season, it’s not understandable that people were calling for Steve Bruce’s head after the loss against Sheffield Wednesday this weekend past.
We’re at our highest league position since dropping from the Premier League, with a manager that knows what it takes to get a side out of the division. Earlier this season, when our form wasn’t great, fans were calling for his head and he was inherently aware of this. He commented in post-match interviews a number of times, and a conversation that he had with Harry Redknapp was printed by the press, where he said “he knew his time was limited if the side did not start winning”.
But now, as we sit in the play-offs just before an International Break, after two losses to Wolverhampton Wanderers and Sheffield Wednesday – some fans called for Bruce to be sacked.
It’s not only the manager that is berated though, it’s the players too. I think we’re all guilty of it, even us at The Claret and View. We’ve taken a look at players like Micah Richards, Leandro Bacuna and Scott Hogan in the past couple of months, and considered all of them ‘problems’.
In the case of players like Richards – training week-in-week out with no end result other than a hefty pay package – the fans have every single right to complain.
But with players in more recent years that have in fact played regularly for the club, like Leandro Bacuna, Andreas Weimann, Ciaran Clark and Ashley Westwood – some of the abuse they received whilst playing, on social media or in relevant groups – was extremely unwarranted, and in some instances forced them out of the club. And before it forced them out, it would have definitely affected their performances.
Two of the four mentioned above are playing regular Premier League football. Two are playing against Aston Villa in the Championship. Three of them play regularly for their International sides.
They’re not terrible players – so why did we make them out to be – week in, week out?
Every player struggles with dips in form, and it’s the job of the club’s fans to help lift these players out of the ditch that they’re in. In recent weeks, there’s been an abundance of fans calling for Scott Hogan to be sold in January because he’s not scored outside of the Carabao Cup this season. People are calling for Jonothan Kodjia to be dropped or even sold because of his lack of form since returning from a horrible injury.
These players need words of encouragement on social media, these players need you to sing their names whilst they’re on the pitch. Of course you’re going to groan if one of them skies a shot, or if Kodjia is a little selfish, and that’s fair enough. But do your ‘job’ as a fan and pick these players up.
We don’t want to look back in five years and think, “wow, Scott Hogan is on fire for that club we sold him to because he struggled at Villa” or “Jack Grealish is a world beater. Remember when he used to play for us?”.
Voice your opinions, please. They’re important. But lets not make the same mistakes we’ve made, over and over again.
Together, we’re stronger. Being Part of the Pride means helping those who need our help. As fans, we need to help in the only way we can.