Date: 30th January 2013 at 9:18am
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Villa ’til I die says:

So as I sit and watch Villa losing another match (it`s currently 0-2 to Newcastle, just before half time) and see Villa fans leaving early, thoughts turn to the future.

Staying in the Premier League seems to only depend on there being 3 worse teams (#duh) that will dutifully fall on their sword for the mighty Aston Villa. So is this the end for this once proud club? Well, no, of course it isn`t.

‘Aston Villa are the fifth most decorated club in English football history.

As well as 19 major domestic honours, including seven league championships, Villa are one of just five British clubs to have won the European Cup.

The club also boasts another European triumph, the 1982-83 European Super Cup, which was won with a two-leg victory over Spanish giants Barcelona.` (From the Aston Villa website)

Of course, the last piece of meaningful silverware that Aston Villa won was the League Cup in 1996 and Villa fans that point to the club`s history as some sort of claim to being a big club are behind the times. Despite one of the best training facilities in the country and a stadium that still ranks amongst the top in the league, Aston Villa just do not have the financial backing, or recent successes to sustain a ‘big club` reputation – so let`s get over it.

What have Villa done to get their fans excited in the last few years? There has been a couple of Wembley visits, something which lower league clubs seem to be making a habit of these days (too soon?). In the league, Villa have finished anywhere between 6th and 16th, never seriously challenging for Champion`s League qualification, and rarely flirting with relegation. What`s the point? I could accept a steadily improving final position as progress, but progress has been sorely missed for a while now (he says as Benteke pulls one back – good for my fantasy team!). There is a lot of progress required in order to restore Villa to former glories.

I personally think Paul Lambert has the potential to at least make a start. He wasn`t my first choice after the departure of McLeish – I didn`t really have one, except that the European way of doing things seems be the best at the moment. Villa have a young team and a small squad, symptomatic of a lack of funds. I think Lambert has bought well – I like Lowton, Benteke, Bennett and Westwood – all under 21. Villa`s academy continues to prove why it is still held in high regard with the likes of Clark, Baker and Weimann becoming first team regulars (and Agbonlahor still causing problems on occasion!). N`Zogbia is starting to look the player Villa fans were desperate to sign and I think Guzan has been fantastic in goal. There`s no doubt Villa are lacking Premier League experience (and the ability to defend crosses) – but realistically, who is available to buy that could make a difference?

Maybe Lambert alienated some of the senior players when he arrived and maybe they could have made a difference – one or two still might. But here we are – a young team, who do work hard, a young manager, who wants to succeed and very little money. Lambert will have to rely on youth for the foreseeable future. If Villa go down, so be it. I won`t stop supporting them, in fact it might be more interesting than another mid-table finish. There has to be a long-term vision and live with the consequences in the meantime…Still 1-2, but Villa giving it a good go.

Notice I haven`t really mentioned the club`s owners…that`s for another day. For now, I am Villa ’til I die.


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