Keep the faith!
Can music soothe the savage breast?
I never knew David Bowie was a Villa fan and I very much doubt that he actually is, but I couldn’t help whistling his latest tune with a certain rueful self-awareness, on the night every Villa fan was asking the same question, this week: Where Are We Now?
Bowie’s surprise birthday release is definitely a melancholy little tune, with a lyric which yearns for better times and speaks of death. No one can doubt, that Villa certainly look rather unwell these days, with more than a hint of the moribund about them.
And, as Bradford’s third goal went in on Tuesday, it was exactly as Bowie sings: The moment you know, you know.
I was sitting in the pub doing my best to congratulate Bradford and failing, as I counted the football league’s divisions on my fingers, in an effort to convince myself that they really weren’t in the equivalent of the old Fourth Division. The conclusion was too terrible to contemplate. The rest of the week was marked by a sort of panic in Detroit, with too many replays going round my head of Lambert shouting ‘Watch that man!’ and Villa’s defence obviously ignoring him.
But as I found out, when I started reading the boards, mine was only a mild case of Villa anger and distress, compared with others, as various scary Villa monsters unleashed their rage.
Getting thrashed by a club from League Two certainly makes denial about the present state of Villa impossible, and it has probably been the most painful for those who have held on to their hopes the longest.
They’ve suddenly heard the voice which cries, it’s all in vain, and someone was going to have to pay for the falsity of their shattered delusions. While most fans felt the pain but managed to hold on to themselves, others went just a little mad, as the blue-noses laughed like gnomes.
Football can be religiously unkind and even those who refrained from getting nasty about this week’s disappointment, were probably just as haunted by the thought that just when Villa looked like they had been handed a bye into the final, by being paired with a team they might be expected to beat over two legs, they completely ballsed it up.
There may be perfectly good reasons why the club decided to play fast and loose with their Premiership status, which most advocates of the present regime reiterate on a regular basis, but failure to capitalise on such a god-given advantage, as this one, is just inexcusable.
Getting in shape for the New Year.
But it has to be admitted that many Villa fans have been heard to dismiss Villa’s League Cup victories as the ‘fizzy pop cup’ so perhaps they will be happier out of the competition, once they have dealt with their humiliation, which judging by my own feelings, is not progressing very well, as I find when ever I am reminded of the number of goals Villa have conceded in their last five games. I am haunted by the thought that if Villa’s swansong as the pre-eminent world club was marked by their 6-1 defeat at Bradford Park Avenue (1919), then perhaps their defeat at Bradford City portends another such calamitous decline.
No one needs reminding that Villa need to concentrate on the league and no one needs reminding that the present squad does not seem adequate enough for coping with the demands of both the Premiership and Europa League. In fact the suggestion is laughable.
The best news the club could think up to console us, was that no players are to be sold. And, if we assume that the present financial policy prevents the signing of any player of known reputation, to hold things together in the absence of captain Ron Vlaar, then it looks like there is nothing to base any realistic hope on right now. There will be no starman for Villa.
So all we can hope for is that Paul Lambert can pick a shape for the team which the players understand. And let’s hope the team’s rehearsals for set-pieces went well this week, as they prepared for the visit of Southampton this Saturday; the team which exposed Villa’s shortcomings so ungraciously early in the season.
The game represents a huge challenge for everyone at Villa. The players need to show they have the courage and the quality to at least take a point off one of their peers. The size of the crowd will demonstrate the damage done to the Villa fans’ morale by their serial humiliation. It is going to be a cold biting afternoon and it will be no occasion for the faint-hearted.
There’s a chance that captain Ron Vlaar might play some part in the game after his two month absence through injury, which is one of few positives for Villa. Or, so the papers say.
Southampton arrive on the back of three draws and a loss against Sunderland. They have a point less than Villa but have played a game fewer, so they represent the perfect test. Win and Villa hopes will return but lose and Villa will look like goners.
It has been a week of trying to look urbane while actually feeling a bit Cobain, so I am just hoping that Villa can show some spirit and Saturday’s result leaves me with something more to say, than just, nevermind..
Keep the faith!