As you will all be aware, Villa kick off the Asia Trophy this morning UK time against Blackburn Rovers. Those of you with Sky Sports can tune in and watch it on there from 11am.
With the match against Blackburn being the first real competitive challenge that Alex McLeish has had to face (sorry Walsall), Villa will be looking to start brightly in the hot Hong Kong weather.
A new beginning?
Those of you who were able to see the Walsall match either live, or on AVTV, will have seen some positive signs from the squad. Solid performances from forgotten men such as Stephen Ireland and Stephen Warnock (till he was taken off), meant that it felt like Villa had more new players than just Shay Given.
Of course, Villa are far from the finished article at present. In fact, we are entering a whole new phase of Villa history because, whether through chance or choice, Villa will be using a lot of the youth in the coming months.
Looking at it, there are two angles with which one could view this “choice”. Either you can believe that we are going to be beset with problems and see our youth fold, or we can have belief that our youngsters could make it. After all, Alan Hansen famously made a comment “You’ll never win anything with kids”, and how wrong did that turn out to be?
Of course, I am looking at this with some degree of sensibility. It is very easy to become hyped about the prodigious talents that have resided in our youth system for a fair while now, but we need to expect solidity, not miracles. Manchester United did very well in the early 90s with their group, but they were in a totally different time. It may only have been 20 years, but the game has changed a lot since then.
As for the youth, sadly we look at some of the players who ply their trade in the reserves and see them as better than they are. Not because we are really seeing true talent, but because the comparative of reserves vs first team isn’t actually that disparate. We screamed out for years for a twenty goals a season man, and thus saw every single player who operated up front as our next salvation. Few, if any, have been that. Kids are kids, and veterans are veterans. You have to earn your respect, not demand it in advance.
Before anyone jumps on my back, I am not saying the kids won’t make it. What I am saying is be objective. If we are going to blood a large number of these players, don’t expect us to be fighting for sixth. I’m not saying we can’t get there, or being negative, but I am saying that we, the fans, have to be part of this revolution as much as the team does.
Revolution comes from all angles
We have spent far too long harping on about the past, citing 1982 as our finest moment as if it was somehow indicative of a larger, greater success that spanned countless decades. The reality is that it was a solitary achievement, with as much luck as it was judgment. Sure, this may not be the popular view, but it needs to be examined, it needs to be understood.
As many of you are aware, my original professional direction was in psychotherapy and psychology. Well a lot of the Villa faithful are indicative of some of the people I have met along the years. Some of these people speak with a degree of bitterness of someone who used to have it all, but they don’t have it anymore through money, looks, or whatever has deserted them since the good times.
In this parallel of individuals vs fans, these people I would deal with would look down and realise that their 20s bodies may not be doing so well in their 50s. When they used to walk into a bar, heads would turn, it wouldn’t go unnoticed. It would be free beer, and backslapping. Back then, these people used to be somebody. Now they are not.
Well the way forward for us as fans offers as many paths as to those I would help.
People can choose to constantly live in the past, and pretend they are who they used to be, all the while living in denial. Or they can give up, and admit they are never going to be who they once were. Or, finally, they can realise that the only way to get that respect back is by earning it. Forget about yesterday. Nowadays, you are only as good as your last performance. Now isn’t the time for reminiscing. It is time for action. We want a future filled with success, not a past littered with bitterness.
We, Aston Villa, have won nothing of note for years. Decades in fact. If you want to be objective, we haven’t won anything since 1996 and, if you want to berate Birmingham City’s recent win as useless, you may as well say we haven’t won anything in almost thirty years.
People need to step back, take off the claret and blue spectacles and view things with a certain degree of realism. There is much that can potentially happen with our team, in both the positive and negative angles. However, promises remain unfulfilled until they actually get proven with evidence.
Potential is potential. It’s great but, if it isn’t viewed with perspective, it can act like a false mirage in the desert of years of not winning anything. That is, it can tantalise but not ever provide. Therein lies our current frustrations.
Tomorrow is the first step to seeing whether promise reveals the hallmarks of success, or another patient wait for Financial Fair Play to kick in before we take aim again higher up the table.