Christmas Eve, and Villa sit ninth, having taken 7 of the last 10 points on offer. For once, Villans can actually relax and enjoy their holiday. I’d even go so far as to say we should be rather happy.

Two years ago on Christmas Day, Villa were sat 11th in the Championship, 23 matches in. We know how that went…loads of nerve-wracking drama that saw us put together a historic run, climb into the playoff spots, dispatch West Brom and Derby, and get back to the Premier League.

Cue more nerve-wracking drama. With a hastily overhauled squad, Villa had 15 points after 18 matches come Christmas Day, having lost four on the trot. We were sitting 18th with just four wins and 3 draws. We did manage to squeak by Norwich 1-0 on Boxing Day to notch our fifth win in 19 outings. That was the midway point: 19 played, 18 points. Still 18th. Villa only ever got up to 16th before sinking down into the mire and pulling another one of the hat to stay up. Just.

This year, we’re just 12 matches in, have 22 points from seven victories and a solitary draw, and sit ninth. Seven fewer matches, two more wins to the good. A much better rate of return, never mind some of the scalps we’ve taken along the way. We’ve won nearly 60% of our games (58.3%, to be precise), and gotten a result in 66.7%.

And don’t forget that two years ago, we were looking up at Leeds, West Brom, Sheffield United, Norwich. Even small heath. Not quite the same view this year.

So, as everyone navigates a challenging festive season, it’s worth taking a breath and enjoying the view. We haven’t been able to do that much. Villa are playing good football. We’re getting to watch one of our own fulfill his promise and become one of the best players in the world. We have a happy squad that may not be terribly deep, but is seeing us through early injuries and suspensions. We can expect goals and fight. Clean sheets, even.

Dean Smith has shown he’s not out of his depth. Neither is he a tyrant or egomaniac. He doesn’t make excuses, and, famously, never gets too high or too low. He’s pragmatic and progressive, and players are improving. Just look at Hause’s displays the last two matches. Targett this season, Luiz from Restart on. Never mind Ezri Konsa’s progression.

Last summer’s business looks to have been as solid as it was focused. Which leads me to Compass: Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens have shown themselves to be as committed, intelligent, and forward-looking as any owners in the league. They’re backing Dean, enhancing the analytics and recruitment. They’re investing heavily in the youth setup. They’re pumping money in left, right and center, and in all the right places. Then they step back, and let the people they’ve hired get on with it.

In other words, I’m a happy Villan. Happy as I’ve been in a long, long time. Still work to be done, but then there always is. I feel good about the club, the players, the owners, and most important: I’m enjoying watching us play, and reveling in thinking a result is always on the cards.

So, to all the regulars, readers, and occasional visitors: If you can’t be with loved ones or family, I hope you’re reunited soon. If you’re struggling, I hope dawn is on the way. If you’re alone, I hope you reach out to someone because they’ll be very happy to hear from you. And I hope each of us can find a moment to count our blessings. They’re always there, whether we see them or not.

It’s been a long, strange year. But we’ve made it this far. Merry Christmas and Peace to you all.

Comments 32

  1. Merry Christmas to you, John, and thanks for all your efforts in keeping this site consistently interesting and, mostly, convivial. Here’s to a great 2021 everyone!

  2. Thanks JC as always mate a gent. I think this is the dawning of a new era in many ways and Villa are reflective of this and are in my world the best tonic to a very strange time.

    Got a text through that told me my niece is negative so dinners on at my sisters , used to just get an invite 🙂

  3. Happy Christmas and thanks to all who look after and post on this site.
    Seems like yesterday when we were in europe (well dresden pre season anyway :-)) Many have lost a lot this year but whatever your thoughts beliefs hopes and fears we seem to be getting our Villa back. UTV !!

  4. JC….Your comments echo my thoughts completely. All Villans have a great Xmas and especially you JC.

    656…..Compass want wealth from their Villa adventure. The good news is they know they won’t get it from farting around in the lower reaches of the Prem or the Championship. The riches are in Europe and that’s where we’re headed for sure. May only need some fine tuning now to reach it. Already, I estimate the value of the club and its assets are well above what they’ve paid for it.

    Well done Compass. The fans send a big thank you to those two gentlemen.

  5. A perfect write up to read on Christmas day thanks John and pretty much summing up how many of us seem to be feeling just now.
    As Plug said, a big thank-you to our owners who are surely setting the tone for the whole club and putting their own money behind us, along with their expertise. They’ve built a super management team and they, in turn, are steadily putting together an exciting team, playing good football and actually winning games.
    My son has just received his negative covid test so can rejoin us for lunch, I’m wearing my new Villa Christmas jumper (good job we don’t post pictures on here)
    Everything’s looking good. . . . . .Merry Christmas everyone!

  6. Merry Christmas JC,
    I just wish to add my thanks to you too for keeping the blog going and managing to inspire us all to keep the faith here.
    The same greeting goes to everyone else, and maybe in the New Year some more of our old bloggers will be inspired to join in once more. We seem to be keeping a reasonable balance now, and it is great that the club is headed in the right direction.
    I have mentioned the Claret & Blue interviews with Matt Kendrick previously, enjoying finding out more from ex players, etc. The most interesting one I listened to recently was one done with Gabby, which was quite an eye-opener in revealing his attitude to certain managers, which actually showed that he was probably a very disruptive element in the camp, especially after Tim Sherwood left, believing him to be a great manager and one of the boys at the same time.
    He certainly had no time for Remi Garde and his discipline, not that he showed much regard for any discipline, as he had more to say about living the good life and partying!!
    Looking forward to tomorrow, in the belief that the players have given up their Xmas day for a good reason.

  7. Marry Christmas everyone.

    Another game we should win today l. It’s about time we win at home.
    We have to after not beating Burnley, Brighton or Southampton at Villa Park. Otherwise it’s becoming an extremely bad home record

    Get the points. Climb the table

  8. Selection headache today. Does Hause deserve to be dropped?

    And does Barkley deserve to start? I don’t think he will. I think he will get 30 minutes at the end.

  9. Selection headache indeed Frem. Palace will have Zaha raiding down one wing and Eze down the other. They are real threats that need nipping in the bud. I too think Barks may only get 30 minutes at the end so El Gassy and Traore will need to put a shift in tracking back to help out with their two flyers.

    Our Boxing Day form has been schitt over the years, but we got a win last year over Naarwich. Just. So same again will be brill.

  10. Seasons greetings lifers thanks JC
    As documented un JC’s leader we have come a lon way
    thanks to NSEW they have been a dream for this club

    Optimistic about today we are becoming a very decent outfit .. think barkley will start as he cant play vs chelski
    we are live on the bbc 3pm

  11. Plug. Ye. They are good wingers. Two I’d like us ti sign, but I’d like is to sign loads of wingers so…. But Zaha is the level of player wr should be going for now.

    Barkley can’t play on Monday so will he get the run out today?
    Or is that risking another ham string

    How well can a substitute really warm up on the side line after sitting in the cold? Maybe at half time he will come up having a proper warm up at HT?

  12. I was just watching a random guys football channel who supports Bolton snd even he just mentioned about how bad our bench is saying it has absolutely no game changers or attacking quality on it what so ever

    Everyone can see it

    I hope in January we have a winger and striker joining

  13. John – thank you for writing such a wonderful elevating Christmas message – very eloquent, it warmed my soul.

    It was great to see Jack Grealish conducting zoom calls with children who have challenges- it brought a tear to my eye – he was incredibly positive, used humour to engage with them and genuine – a beautiful human being.

    I couldn’t be happier at present being a Villa fan – we have much to be grateful for – the football has been thoroughly entertaining. I live in Herts and all of the local Arsenal- Spurs- Chelsea fans have admiration for the way we play. We shouldn’t forget that. We have narrowly lost a few games at home but that is football. I truly love watching our style of football – we have a swagger.

    With Barkley and Konsa back today we do have a strong bench. I would expect Barkley to start due to his situation against Chelsea. We need to manage the players fitness levels .

    I predict we smash Palace today.

    And then take the game to Chelsea.

    Happy Days Villa fans

    Let’s all be positive and kind to each other

    The wonderful – the magnificent Aston Villa

  14. Yes Richard S, we do have abetter bench than many teams in the division although with Wesley still out, Davies regularly injured and Trez currently out, we are looking a bit short of attacking options. if the management can see those pressures being eased by players coming back soon they may decide to wait out the January window otherwise they may just want to bring one more attacker in.

  15. Robbo.

    I see why you don’t want Europa league, but to be in it is stilla good thing. Will attract more players and its a great competition to win

    If we have a good sqaud we wjll be fine

  16. No Barkley again. I said his injury was worse than the club are making out

    Our bench has a GK, 4 defenders, 2 defensive mids. 1 striker

    That’s shocking. It needs to change in January

  17. Give it a rest Frem

    I come on this site for enjoyment and we all have to tolerate your negative comments.

    It is non stop and sooo tedious- sooo bloody boring.

    Cheer up. It’s Xmas

  18. Happy Christmas guys,

    I’m not shocked that Barkley is not in squad. It would have been hard to drop either El G or Traore, and since we’re playing Chelsea next it makes even more sense. Plus give Barkley another week to recover.

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