Date: 19th May 2010 at 6:03pm
Written by:

Some people are going to find this hard to believe, but I am a changed man this morning – well at least as far as Aston Villa is concerned anyway – and I feel better for it.

I met up with 3 friends for a few drinks last night, 2 of them also Villa fans, and the conversation as always turned towards football. I won`t bore you with all of the details but, after 5 hours of almost non-stop Villa talk, I now have a different opinion on how I need to look at the future when it comes to our wonderful football club. In a nutshell, I now realise the following;

I need to let go of past ‘glories`. Remember them with pride, but not let them influence my present day expectations. We are a great club with a fantastic history and, although I will never forget them, they are in the distant past and times have changed so much from when I started following the Villa in 1974.

With this in mind I really do need to examine the present day situation, and realign my ideals based on what is realistically achievable for a club like ours. Having thought about this long and hard, I have come to the following conclusion;

We are a club that has a decent owner. Purely based on ‘morality` issues we probably could do no better. But this owner, although wealthy by our standards, does not have the kind of wealth that allows us to compete with the very rich clubs in the Premiership.

We are a club that has an average manager who the owner happens to like very much. They seem to share similar ‘morals`, and this leads to a stable, if not ‘progressive` relationship.

We are a club that others see differently to the way we, the ‘fanatics` see it – off course – meaning that not all players will see us as a ‘big club` they are desperate to join, and not all managers see as a ‘must have` on their CV. Location has something to do with this I feel, but also the lack of recent success plays a big part.

We are a club with a good fan base spread throughout the country, and indeed the world. But we seem to have a ‘core` of about 25,000 supporters who will ‘turn up no matter what`. Whilst this is a decent number of hardcore supporters, it is probably only about ‘mid-table` when compared to other clubs who are in the Premiership or have Premiership ambitions. I do not see this changing unless we obtain consistent success – but will success come without the increased support?

Now, to a lot of you, this might seem like I am being negative. But I assure you I am not. It is only by being more balanced that I can become happier with the present situation. I realise I have become more and more frustrated over the last few seasons, but now I realise that this is not the fault of anyone in particular apart from myself. I now know that, with Doug leaving and Randy taking over, I suddenly became over excited about future possibilities. I think I had lulled myself into thinking everything would change once Doug was no longer at the helm. This was unfair on Randy, to MON, and even perhaps to Doug Ellis.

I now realise (there`s that word again!), that a lot of the mammoth changes in football since 1992 had either been ‘missed` by me, or I had tried to ignore them, perhaps knowing the truth would hurt more than the lie. But that truth is that we are no longer the club I read about in the history books when I was an excited child. The game is not even the same. Yes that is a little sad for someone like me, a man still wanting to believe that anything is possible in football – and therefore in life. But it isn`t.

We are a club with a great tradition and history, and I will always love that fact. But we are a club that is fighting to stay on the coattails of the ‘modern greats`. I should not expect us to compete with them in terms of winning trophies, and I no longer will. I hope that we give them a ‘bloody nose` now and again when we meet up – as we did at Old Trafford last season – but my new expectations will mean that I enjoy these ‘minor` victories more than I have in the recent past.

We are Aston Villa. I am proud to be a supporter of Aston Villa. But I will no longer set my club unfair targets that they can not be expected to meet. This only leads to me being increasingly frustrated and, worse, falling out of love with ‘my club`. This, in turn, means that I enjoy the games less, the outcome less, and any ‘success` less – such as the Wembley appearances, the top 6 finishes, and another season in Europe. I realise I used to enjoy it all so much before Randy came along. But that is not his fault at all. It is the fault of my unrealistic expectations of where we should be now that Doug has gone.

I want to be back in love with the club I grew up with. The club my Granddad supported. The club that ‘ruled the world` a hundred years ago. But this can only happen if I recognise where we are in the modern era. It can only happen if I realise what we have ‘achieved` is what we should expect for a club like ours.

With all this in mind I say;

I will be happy from now on with 6th place finishes – it really is the best we can realistically hope for. I want to push on from there, but I will no longer ‘expect` it.

I will be happy with a good Cup run that takes us to Wembley, even if we lose against a big club, and I will enjoy it more because we will have achieved what we realistically could hope for.

I will be happy with gaining a place in Europe – the way I used to be!

Although I will not be getting a season ticket next year – it really is too expensive/inconvenient these days if you have to travel any great distance – I will get back to enjoying ‘supporting’ my club.

I will get the Villa Park whenever I can. Hopefully a happier supporter, with more realistic expectations, back in love with the club I call “The Villa!”.

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