Something For The Weekend (422)
Like hot sex in a bad relationship Villans across the globe bathed in a warm satisfied afterglow this week after Lambert's boys put six past Sunderland, in a game which must count as a 7-pointer; 3 points for a win, 3 snitched from a rival and 1 for putting their goal-difference almost right. Add in a hat-trick for Benteke, a stand-out performance from Matthew Lowton and a record-breaking goal from Gabriel Agbonlahor, and there was more than enough good news to induce a bout of forgetfulness amongst the Villany..
And, like those few pleasant moments in a bad relationship, it was enough to revive the hope which has lain dead but not buried since the turn of the year, and to forget the bickering and infidelity which has troubled the relationship for too long.
But setting aside the painful contemplation of what has been a season of woes and lows, Monday night stood as a reminder to all fans who have ever asked the question: why do I bother?, as to why they do. The truth being that there is something unique about football which throws up such nights as Monday. No matter how many drab and gut-wrenchingly disappointing matches a fan might drag their sorry arse down to in a season, there is always the chance that out of a gloomy grey sky, can fall such a scintillating diamond of a game, which makes everything seem worthwhile and all the misery and expense justifiable during the throws of that unexpected ecstasy.
It was almost enough to distract the fans from noticing that the job is not done yet, and that Villa's fate is still in Wigan's hands and not their own. Things still look a bit dicey and dicey enough to prompt worries about whether such a spectacular win and the subsequent media Villa love-in, will distract Villa's players from the substantial task still at hand.
This became the basis for the consolation I offered myself for the fact that Christian Benteke never got the award he so surely deserved from the PFA. This week's awards were baleful, in every sense of the word. There is absolutely no doubting that Gareth Bale is a fantastic player and there are not many better sights in football than seeing the Welsh wizard in full flight, except maybe when he is playing against you, but, even bearing in mind that Villa once had a player who swept the board of all the prizes, it is just plain wrong that Bale should get both awards, the Senior and the Young Players' Player of the Year.
It is impossible to begrudge Bale of his senior award but to award him the Young Player of the Year as well, was just plain wrong. For a start off he has already won the Senior award once already. To award him the YPY two years later makes a mockery of the whole concept of having a Young Player category in the first place, because it is supposed to acknowledge excellence and promise in a player while taking his youth into account. It is quite possible to justify a player getting both awards if he happens to be both the best player and young (Andy Gray 76-77) but once a player has been awarded the senior award, he must be considered an established star and his age ceases to be a factor.
So the voting rules need to be changed to help spread the love.
The reasons that Christian Benteke should have got the award are just overwhelming. No striker in the Premiership comes close to Benteke when it comes to his contribution to any club compared with Christian. Check out the BBC's article on how removing the Premiership club's top-scorers affects the outcome and Benteke is miles ahead (www.bbc.co.uk/sport).
Without Van Persie Man United would still be champions and just about every other club would be with in one or two places of where they are now. But Villa would have been relegated months ago without the beastly Benteke. Villa would have 13 points less and would be long-gone. Benteke has scored over 40% of Villa's goals and has earned almost 40% of Villa's points. Without Gareth Bale Spurs would only be one place lower. Not even Suarez at Liverpool has made the impact that Benteke has made at Villa, and only Berbatov has come close to making the difference Villa's goal-machine has made to his club.
So where is the consolation, you might ask.
Well, it would seem that with things as they stand, Villa need as little, by way of distraction this week, as possible. And as much as I have full faith in young Christian to keep his head straight and his mind on the job, I just think that any kind of media circus is best avoided as Villa prepare for their crucial trip to Norwich this Saturday.
Even though Wigan have an exceptionally tough week, as they must travel for a tough game against the Baggies this Saturday, play Swansea at home on Tuesday, before facing Man City in the greatest game of the club's history, when they hope to win their first FA Cup in their 81 year history, the onus is on Villa to get the job done.
With a game against Arsenal to follow, things look difficult for the Latics, but Villa can't take refuge in that, they simply have to win at Carrow Road, to reach forty points, and by doing so, stake a claim that they deserve to stop up on merit, and not by the failings of others. Leaving it until the last game of the season when they must take on Wigan at home, might be a delightful prospect for neutrals, TV commentators and pundits, but it is not the sort of thing many Villa fans would choose for themselves.
In the meantime we must wait on tenterhooks for either disaster or the sweet relief of survival, when we can all jump up and down, breathe a sigh of relief and maybe let the animal out.
Let me hear it - that sound you make!
Keep the faith!