Same as it ever was! Same as it ever was!
Now, put your hands in the air!
Don’t you just hate that moment in a rock concert when the drummer and the bassist, start that predictable beat, and the vocalist (do they still use that term?) puts his hands over his head and demands that the audience clap along at his command?
I never liked it much myself because I always associated it with the dread of clapping out of time and the whole world finding out, what I knew already – I was not quite cool. Of course, I was known to comply, in Radio Ga-Ga style, but always had the thought that, ‘I’ve paid to be entertained, so why am I doing the work?’, as I settled into my reluctant regimented Metropolis moment.
Its going to be a bit like that at Villa Park this weekend, as due to the fact that Birmingham City’s old manager, makes his home debut for Villa against Blackburn, the media have set up a little test of their own devising, where they plan to judge the Villa fans’ approval-rating by measuring his reception on their clapometer. Thereby pressurising every fan to prove themselves not guilty, of lacking enthusiasm for the owner’s choice.
Which is a bloody cheek, when you come to think about it – so nothing new there then.
For starters, I don’t see how there is much to applaud. Its not like football management is a travail equivalent to the stations of the cross, or something. Its just some guy being paid millions of pounds a year to do a job. There’s no romance, self-sacrifice or known long-term affection for the club, so what is it the fans are expected to applaud? It might be more appropriate if the new manager applauded the Villa fans, who have stumped up the increased price of a season-ticket, in the knowledge that achieving mediocrity is now the club’s greatest ambition.
Now there’s loyalty, there’s self-sacrifice and there’s love of the club.
Check out David Conn’s revealing article on ticket inflation at: The Premier League has priced out fans, young and old
It seems inconceivable that the fans would actually not applaud because that is what is expected of them, and they know that should they not quite reach the required decibel levels, that the bags of cack in the media are going to make out that henceforth, all Villa discontents arise entirely from disapproval of the manager, instead of the reality that Villa have downgraded their ambition.
So to avoid any misunderstanding or blame, its probably best if the fans give big ‘eck a welcome, and save their judgement, whether it be praise, indifference or condemnation, until ten to five, when at least their praise or criticism will be evidence-based.
From the evidence of the highlights from Saturday’s draw with Fulham, Villa are looking predictably like the manager’s previous charges, where some goalkeeping heroics, a willingness to throw bodies in front of shots, enabled Villa to bring home their first precious point.
The Finkler Question?
According to Daniel Finkelstein of the Times’ famous Fink Tank, a statistically based prediction engine, Fulham (8th) are calculated to finish higher than Villa (9th) in their model for the forthcoming season, and therefore, as one of Villa’s peers, a draw was an excellent result. Getting a point away to a team who are statistically better than yourself, has to be seen as a good result.
The fact that the game was relegated to last spot on Match of The Day, probably says everything that can be said about how entertaining the game was, or perhaps a measure of how relevant Villa and Fulham are seen in the BBC’s Big Boys Book of Premiership Adventures.
A mixture of both no doubt.
The rest of the opening Premiership day went exactly as forecast, from the predictions for the new season (United, United and United), and the evidence, if the outcome on the first day is anything to go by, which substantiated the pre-season prognostications.
Neither Chelsea or Arsenal looked like they are likely to challenge United’s supremacy. Liverpool flattered to deceive and Man City had it too easy to make any judgement valid.
We got to see just how bad the newly promoted teams were, which came as much relief to Villa anxieties about the r-word, and mid-table looks like a shoo-in for Villa, barring disasters.
More satisfying was watching the latest batch of ex-Villa mercenaries make their debuts for their new clubs. Stewart Downing esq. produced the perfect tableau of his career so far, as he went on a fantastic run for Liverpool and then crashed his shot against the bar.
In one move he managed to sum up his whole career thus far, or at least my own perception of it, as a player who occasionally looks fantastic but has never quite managed to deliver, whether for Middlesbrough, Villa or England.
Ashley Young on the other hand, enjoyed the sort of luck on his United Premiership debut, which usually requires the sale of a soul to the devil to acquire. Having failed to beat the first man with his first attempts at making a cross, he put in a simple square-ball to Rooney, who went on to create a goal out of nothing, and which Ashley then took full credit for. He then scored the winner via two deflections and took the credit for that too (since rescinded).
He then enjoyed the sort of praise, which he would never have got at Villa, and which I’d happily predicted. We saw that with better colleagues, a nice chunk of luck, and the endorsement from the lick-spittles at Auntie, that the Ashley Young brand had been successfully launched to a higher level.
Phase 2 completed!
The only thing which broke through the tedium of the rest of the Premiership programme, was Joey Barton reverting to type and taking an advantageous dive, which gladly ended his attempts at scaling the moral high-ground, from where he’d been piously quoting Orwell.
The Premiership badly needs its villains, and with Rooney looking decidedly choirboy-like, these days, there’s a danger the fans could run out of people to boo, if not for Joey.
So, another Premiership season starts.
Eye-gouging in Spain and match-fixing scandals in Italy.
Same as it ever was! Same as it ever was!
Keep the faith!