Something For The Weekend (253)
According to the self-help gurus, if you want to feel happy, then you must set-up a few easy victories for yourself, to get those positive brain chemicals flowing, which tend to lift the mood. And, the daft thing about it, is that your brain can't tell the difference between one sort of victory and another. Any kind of win satisfies those little grey corpuscles.
Despite all our best efforts, our brains are surprisingly easy to please.
But what is even crazier is how quickly people are able to rationalise a victory into a loss by telling themselves it was the wrong kind of victory. So they deliberately talk themselves out of the pleasure: how barmy is that?
It was the sort of madness which gripped Chelsea a few years ago, when they suddenly woke up one morning and decided that winning six trophies under Mourinho was not enough and they wanted to win every game playing like Brazil in the 1970 World Cup final. So they sacked the 'special one' and they haven't won the league in the three years since.
Villa are rather more earthbound than that but the fans still suffer the same mentality.
They not only want to win games, they want to win like Big Ron used to, in those days before the shed loads of Rubles arrived in SW6 (there's the rub), the mighty dirham was something never heard of in Manchester and ten years of Champions League millions had not made the excluded clubs relative paupers by comparison with the big four.
So predictably, there are some fans who remain stubbornly unimpressed by Villa's six wins in a row. Thankfully, there are many more who see it differently and acknowledge the progress Villa's splendid start suggests.
If we were looking for progress then we need look no further than Villa's win over Cardiff on Wednesday night, as O'Neill stuck to his habit of giving his favoured reserves a run out, against a more than decent Cardiff side who made the FA Cup final last year.
There are plenty of links between Cardiff and Villa, both modern and ancient. With the likes of Trevor Ford and Gerry Hitchens possibly being the most legendary, while the likes of Dean Saunders donned the shirt for a few games early in their careers. The modern links are numerous, with Villa new-boy Collins having come through the Cardiff Academy before joining the Hammers.
And it is always nice to see Villa old boy Peter Whittingham who has made a huge contribution to City's recent emergence as outside Premiership hopefuls. Peter always was a quality player and was always involved on Wednesday night. He was one those Villa kids that got away and every time I see him play and he was on the telly a lot during last year's cup-run, its a wonder that he never found himself on the books of a Premiership club.
I think it is safe to say, that if it wasn't for the top flight being swamped with foreign imports, Peter would have enjoyed a very respectable career in the Premiership or First Division, or what ever you want to call it. But no doubt he is enjoying his football at Cardiff and earns more than previous generations did in the top division, so there are plenty of consolations. And, he's young yet and so he may still get a further taste of Premiership grandeur and hauteur.
Villa scored a classy goal through Gabby me babby, nice and early, so calming the nerves of fans dreading a repeat of previous years and should have added to it, when Milner pinged his penalty against the frame of the goal but despite a late scare, when Cardiff were unlucky enough not to take it into extra time, it was a decent night all round. And obviously, conceding that his team had very little left in their locker (geddit?), David Jones didn't make much fuss about Jay Bothroyd's disallowed goal.
Elsewhere, none of the other Premiership sides on Carling Cup duty, did anything too spectacular against lesser opposition, except maybe Spurs who went mad against Preston. Liverpool were very fortunate against unlucky Leeds and Arsenal needed a helping hand from a West Brom tantrum to ease their way into the next round. Man United were pretty ordinary against Wolves and even Man City had to go into extra-time, to get past Fulham.
So plenty of results to put Villa's narrow win into perspective and the positive-thinkers amongst the Villa fans (and there are some) were left to use an extra finger on their other hands to count the wins to six and rave about a quality range of passes from new signing Fabian Delph.
There were even a few deficiencies for the churls to pick over, so it turned out a pretty good night for optimists and moaners alike.
In the meantime, Villa have to travel to Blackburn and see if they can make it seven out of seven. Reo-Coker is back in contention and hopefully he will make a contribution and not hand out too many bollockings to his junior colleagues, if they happen not to give him the pass he wants. But, hey, water under the bridge and all that and lets prove we are a team of professionals and are not trying to build Philadelphia.
Winning is everything and sometimes can seem quite rare, so I just say, enjoy it while it lasts and get it while you can.
You tell 'em Janice: