The re-arising of the Villa Phoenix seemed to have taken a backward step, but at least the result courtesy of the flat-bottomed Hull gave us something to ecstate about on an otherwise glum day. We live to fight again – and only three months since we thought all might be lost!
It’s that fact that, in 13 games prior to yesterday, the Right Honourable Sherwood had induced the same squad of players to play a level of footie that has been great by comparison with what went before. Not only are Villa now safe from relegation, but we also have another important fixture at Wembley to attend.
This most recent result (and the method by which the match was surrendered) may have seemed bad at the time. However, all considered, perhaps we should just accept it as a salutary reminder that it’s not all fixed at Villa Park just yet! And a reminder that our new manager is also relatively new in this level of job. At this stage his report card might state: “A wonderful understanding of the footballer’s psyche, but lacking caution in defensive tactics.” Whereas Lambert was overly cautious about the goals conceded side of play, we now have a manager who’s view is polarised differently. He likes to attack.
But maybe the problems seen in the last match will all be rectified if the defence is given a makeover during the summer.
Meanwhile, this coming Saturday we have the opportunity to give our team a great send off for the forthcoming Wembley fixture where, despite all, Villa just might upset the Londoners in Villa’s first ever meeting against the Gunners in the last four (let alone the last two) of the competition. In 110 years of competition against Arsenal and considering the status of both clubs over that period (even though Arsenal’s has been mainly higher than Villa’s these last 80 years or so) it is quite amazing to my mind that they’ve been kept apart. I have to add that despite Arsenal’s record these last several decades, they have still not (let us not forget) won the European Cup! But they keep trying – bless ’em! Let them have this season’s European Cup qualification as a consolation for not winning a trophy!
I have to say that after witnessing what an aware Southampton were able to do against a square high-line defence, I am a little in trepidation that Arsenal might try the same ploy. So, forewarned, this is an opportunity for our manager to delve into his medicine bag to find the antidote. I am moved to remember another Villa manager of an attacking bent – Big Ron himself – who found a cure for keeping the Man U wingers quiet in the 1994 League Cup Final, and yet despite player-marking concerns Villa still won handsomely. With that memory, I wait to see this Cup Final with baited breath and a great wish for success after 58 years – a match that I also saw. It’s easy to say (as I have) that we should just enjoy the day, but 58 years has been a long time.
Anyway, win or lose I would mainly like to see Villa give a good account of themselves, and a performance to show us that what has happened since our manager took over is no fluke. More, to sustain our hopes for next season.