Something For The Weekend (228)
Running like a stag.
Mainly remembered for his famous song, Mad Dogs And Englishmen, Noel Coward was always good for a very English titter, although obviously lacking the grace and subtlety of Roy Chubby Brown or Bernard Manning. But despite his collection of stirring and amusing songs, I always hold one of his personal quotes, rather closer to my heart, than his witty ditties. Asked what he did when confronted by a bore, he once responded, 'Run like a stag!'.
Well, truth be known, I have been running like a stag for the past fortnight, as a certain fat man of my casual acquaintance has pursued me like the hound of hell, so he can add to my misery by traducing my team, my favourite players, and deconstructing the mythology of Magic Mart. All these topics are definitely things I'd rather avoid, thank you very much, and despite a certain amount of indignity being involved in running like a started stag (Monarch of the Glen, I ain't), I have run and kept on running.
I don't really want to tell the guy to get stuffed but his glee at making me the victim of his game of 'I told you so', is more than I can bear. I don't really want to be told why I should feel more miserable than I am already. I don't want to be told that the Villa cup is half empty, when I know that it is more than half full.
The most irritating thing about my fat man, is that while he is telling me that Villa's recent decline is down to criminal negligence and egregious incompetence, I have to avoid mentioning the fact, that the life of my least favourite mound of dripping, is hardly an example of the impeccable intelligent management, he demands from others. In truth, the guy's a complete mess and as far as I can tell, always has been. So he's coming it a bit rich, by wagging his finger in Villa's direction.
Some will say that this is blatant fattism but I assure you, even if the guy lost weight he would still be a big twat.
But at least while I am being pursued across open ground by he of the many bellies, I at least have been distracted from thinking about Villa fans booing Gabby me babby. Why, why, why, Delilah? You can't do that. He might have traded in his go-faster-striped Vauxhall Corsa for a Lambo but he's still one of us.
For some reason the fans (sic) have a total fixation with the boy's choice of motor, as if, as a local lad, he should be buying a people-carrier, so he can take pensioners to the day centre, on his day off. His mate Ashley has a Bentley and nothing's said, but Gabby gets a Lambo and the snides start suggesting he's a Brummy getting above his station. I would have thought that they would welcome a sign that Villa are paying good wages, rather than making with the green-eyed monster impressions.
Don't worry, I keep telling people, some woman will get all his money in the end, and he'll be reduced to a bus-pass, like Gazza and the rest of us.
Of course, it didn't exactly help my feelings towards Villa fans, when I read a Liverpool forum which totally ripped into our lion-hearted booers. They seemed to think that it was a symptom of the Villa fans' delusion that they are a giant club, who had learnt to take excellence and success for granted. They were also fulsome in their praise of Gabby and disgusted at his treatment by his own fans. Remembering the contrasting treatment of Peter Crouch, between Villa and Liverpool, where his size was celebrated and not scorned, like at Villa, I could not help hanging my head in dismay.
And there's the rub, for being patronised by Liverpool fans has caused me more misery, over the years, than any other team, including you know whom. So when Villa fans go handing them even more excuses, to remind me Villa are doing fine for a small club, I am not very happy about it.
So chaps, keep it down a bit and leave our Gabby alone.
As Villa travel to Liverpool on Sunday, Gabby will get the chance to compare himself with Fernando Torres, possibly the best striker in the world right now, and witness, or possibly emulate, the level of performance which he'll need to be producing, if he is to be England's next first-choice striker. Villa fans will be hoping that Heskey's return to his old club, where he never quite lived up to his price-tag, will prompt the sort of performance rarely seen in Villa shirt.
By then, we will know the result of the Newcastle - Arsenal game: it should be tense.
History tells us that predicting a victory for Villa is a pretty forlorn hope, especially as Liverpool are playing out of their skin, these days. Their mauling of Real Madrid had me wondering what was wrong with Madrid but last week's humbling of Man United, suggested that the answer was, 'nothing'. Whether Villa can do what Manchester United and Real Madrid failed to do, remains to be seen but I confidently predict I will feel further patronised by Liverpool fans, come Monday morning, no matter what the outcome.
With the prospect of playing Liverpool, Man United and Everton in the next month, it is no wonder even the most sanguine Villa fan, might have let out a moan, when yet another chance to put some points on the board passed, against Spurs. By the end of that lot, Villa could find themselves sixth and so the home game with Everton looks like a cup final. After that, Villa have a very reasonable run-in, while Arsenal must play the top three - which means points will be taken off all Villa's rivals, one way or another. With semi-finals and finals looming, the last few weeks of the season promise to be really tough for the top teams.
So bearing in mind, how things stand, Martin O'Neill will be aware that even if his team lose the next two, it will still be too early to be wheeling out the fat lady, to sing. Two scruffy points from Liverpool and Man United, would do nicely and a win against Everton would get the fans believing again.
The question hanging on the lips of all Villa fans, is can Arsenal beat the teams above them? If they can, Villa's fate is out of their own hands. If not, then Villa have an excellent chance of fulfilling their Champions League dreams.
If Villa can beat either Liverpool or Manchester United, then Martin will be magic again, and Gabby will be the greatest Brummy ever to own a Lamborghini - no bull.
And a certain fat man better get ready to run.