The words become very familiar after awhile. They are as predictable as the birds currently taking flight en masse around these parts. Only its not a cloud of migrating sparrows going south that is uppermost in my thoughts. Sadly, it`s yet another football season.
Here is exactly how you can easily spot a team that is steeped in the culture of winning. Winning games, and ultimately winning trophies. It`s members don`t talk about trying hard. You don`t hear them praise the 'good things` that occurred during yet another disappointing reversal.
The very notion of 'not giving up` never so much as crosses their minds. Why on earth should it?
To teams that win, the bottom line could not be more obvious. It never requires rationalizing or soft-peddling. It`s black and white really. It`s night and day. Either you win, or you don`t. It`s that simple.
If you want to be praised and exalted for trying hard, giving your all, then go and play a round or three of crazy golf. Tell you what, get yourself an ice cream and a bag of sweeties too, as you pat yourself on the back after a poor round.
This is after all the real stuff, the big league, and in the big league our beloved claret and blues are doing none too well. Or are they?
We are in 'transition` yet again, and shouldn`t transition mean that leniency, patience and understanding is a requirement? Transition shouldn`t though mean a decline in standards. Should it? And boy, have we witnessed and suffered through decline since the summer of 2010, when the word 'transition` has become as familiar to your everyday Villan as is his toothbrush.
The very word 'transition` is supposed to excuse and dismiss all ill`s, set-backs, and failings. It wouldn`t work in my workplace, with my bosses, 'Hey, sales are down with the midlands sales team, but we are in transition`. No, that wouldn`t wash with my superiors, but Premier League football, as we all know, is a law unto itself. A different world.
This campaign to date has seen us lose 50% of the premier league fixtures on our calendar, and in a few of those defeats, we haven`t even turned up and competed. Certainly not as many of us would expect and hope that our Villa lads would turn up and compete. Yet still many of us, certainly not all, there are dissenting voices out there, believe that better, brighter days are ahead, if only we can weather the super-storm that is the 2012-13 season. I am definitely amongst the latter crowd. Although, I do have concerns. But, I`ve supported this club for fifty years, you always have concerns when you support AVFC.
That Paul Lambert inherited a mess, a club on its knees, a way below par squad that was battered and bruised from two consecutive battles against the drop into the npower Championship, cannot be denied or argued against. There was (indeed, still is) a lot wrong at Aston Villa Football Club when Paul Lambert walked through the entrance door to sit in the Brummagem B6 hot seat, and nothing he could do in five or ten minutes, six or twelve months, was ever going to make a huge dent in the faults and failings that have engulfed the football club. His was a long term project. Time was needed, in a world where the allowance of time is a very rare favour.
I could speak positively here. I could say, as many have said, that despite the defeats there has been signs of improvement, a happier more committed squad, an obvious plan to move onwards and upwards. Better football, a collection of individuals who are proud to wear the shirt, as opposed to players who care little for the club, and seemed determined to drag its name through the mud at each and every opportunity.
I could suggest, indeed I will suggest, that if we continue to play as we did at Newcastle United or Sunderland, or at Manchester City in that never to be forgotten League Cup success, and fine tune some other current faults and failings, that we could see out the remainder of the season quite respectably, secure a healthy mid-table position, and push on from there in 2013-14. That might be true.
To the modern day 'I want it now - success on demand` supporter of the modern era though, sadly it means not much.
On the other hand, to counter balance my own mixed up ramblings, I can recall the words of ex Villa legend and 'Mr. Football Of The Midlands`, Larry Canning, who back in the dark days of the sixties said to then Villa manager Tommy Cummings, 'If you keep buying third division players, where do you think you`ll end up?`
Larry wasn`t wrong was he? Still times have changed. Football is a very different ball game today than it ever was back in the swinging sixties. Larry`s words couldn`t ring true again today. Not in 2012-13. Could they?
Why is it fellow Villans, that after another loss, after another poor performance, we never hear, " This is totally unacceptable. We have way too much quality and talent to be playing this way. I don`t care how hard we tried. Trying hard is implied in each and every players contract. This is the most results oriented league in professional sport. All that matters is winning"?
The league table tells us that we have played ten, lost five, won only two. There is no 'Tried Hard` category.
How does Paul Lambert get his team to play to its potential? Because it hasn`t, not in the majority of games. That is troubling. Maybe the team is not as talented as Paul and many of us, myself included, believe it to be?
Admittedly it`s a work still very much in progress, the much needed clear out will continue, more new faces will arrive, the club will move on. The big question of course, is will it move on in the right direction?
We all hope so, and for what its worth, I believe it will. One thing though is for certain. Supporting this great club of ours is never dull, never unexciting.
Right, time for some Neil Young to soothe the tormented soul. 'After The Gold Rush` sounds just about right. Hard to believe that we were in the third division, and about to head off to Chesterfield for the season opener when this classic was released.
Rock On Neil, More Importantly, Up The Villa.
Later my friends.
Manager Tim Sherwood has spoken of his disappointment - and shouldered the blame - for today's one nil loss to Stoke City.
All the stats from Aston Villa (0) vs (1) Stoke, Villa Park, 3/10/15 Att: 33,189
Statistics, damn lies and Aston Villa..
Bit of a mix and match today from manager Tim Sherwood's pre Stoke press conference.
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