Midfielder Mile Jedinak was back in the classroom this week for the first time in 15 years, and one part of his speech took my fancy.
With the vast majority of fans knowing exactly what the Australian international brings to the pitch in terms of his contribution to helping shore up defence, he was on Aston Villa Foundation duty this week at our latest Soccer School event to hold a Q&A session to a group of 30 strong kids.
Plenty know the work the Foundation do and it’s certainly to be applauded, but there was a section of his words that stood out to me as we go into the next key stage of the 2017/18 campaign.
Having made it seven straight wins in a row to put us into second spot in the table in recent times, Villa have wobbled but with a run like that we were always going to have a small dip and fans knew what was important was how we responded to that.
The defeat to Fulham was a blow, mainly the performance as opposed to the result and whilst it wasn’t pretty or vintage we did draw the line under the defeat playing out a one all draw with Preston North End, and topped that off with a very strong finish to the Sheffield Wednesday game last weekend.
That’s certainly the kind of response fans were hoping for and whether we like it or not, at this stage of the campaign it’s all about the results now and if we are to keep our automatic promotion hopes alive, we need more wins than those around us and Cardiff City ahead of us, and then we can see where we fall in comparison to Wolverhampton Wanderers and their ten point advantage.
To do that we need the team on the same page and the fans and that’s what jumped out at me from Jedinak’s speech for the Foundation via the Official Site.
‘I’d say togetherness is the most important thing, which is something I’ve seen a lot of in this side. You only need to look at the scenes at the final whistle against Sheffield Wednesday. There’s a lot of unity here, and not just among the playing squad. The fans are really buying into this team and there’s a real mentality here now that we’re one big family – from players and coaches to staff and supporters.’
Jedinak went on to say that obviously it’s not all going to be ‘good all of the time’ but what is key is persisting through the difficult moments, holding the belief you can turn things around and bouncing back, and of course the Wednesday victory in particular did that for us on the pitch.
He spoke about how the general atmosphere had turned around at the training ground over the 18 months he’s been with us, and added.
‘We’re entering the last stint of the season and you really want to feel that energy from all around the club. We’ll feed off that buzz as players in any way we can to get ourselves over the line.’
Villa know we’ll be in for another tough battle this weekend when we host Queens Park Rangers and an Ian Holloway on his own ‘sticky wicket’ given their place in the Championship table but each game from here on in is going to be a battle ahead of everything else.
With Wolves, Cardiff and Derby County still to face on home soil each of those matches take on extra significance but it’s the less glamorous matches we have to take results from to make those three really impact our season run in.
Get the right result against QPR and the Sunderland, and with the Trinity Upper open for Wolves that could be an incredible day of football when we look back over the summer as three positives results in those matches should set us up nicely for what could be a decider clash against Cardiff in mid April.
Of course by then, the hope will be that game just becomes about kicking Neil Warnock rather than anything else but Villa don’t tend to do things the easy way do they.
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