The visit of Everton on Tuesday comes at a time when they are (we are told) to reveal new owners. In other words, the Toffees have emerged from their sticky condition of a few years ago to make themselves more attractive to potential buyers. Their diligence and patience has paid off.
This fact must surely be seen as an indictment of Villa’s owner, who claims to have been trying to sell our favourite and greatest club for some time, but did not do what Everton has done – to ensure that the club remained a viable force and able to compete. Instead – rather than being Sticky Toffee – we have become Suet Pudding.
All we can hope for is that Ayew’s return and Everton’s sense of self-congratulation might conspire to backfire on them and to provide the stimulus for a Villa run that will dazzle: we only need 22 points out of a possible 33 to (probably) stay up! Let’s face it, Ayew’s disgraceful red card performance 3 games ago probably took the stuffing out of the rest of the team. With him absent from up front our one bit of hope in the strike department – and Kozak’s injury – effectively removed any serious contemplation of winning form until his return. A lot rests now on Ayew to restore some self-respect.
But we need to be aware of a flash in the pan. Towards the end of Villa’s last relegation season (of 1986-87), Villa produced a 4-0 win over West Ham and by the end of the match (it was reported) were playing like world-beaters. They then proceeded to lose their remaining games and – of course – went down.
No, I am not really trying to re-ignite hope. But for the fans sake I am hoping that they will be able to see a Villa team play to something like their tradition: a tradition that has all but evaporated. This season has seen too much to compare with the last comparable season of despair: 1966-67. At the start of that season Villa lost their two main stars (for Delph and Benteke read Woosnam and Hateley) and from then on it was a downward slide. Just like this season, injuries negatively affected the situation. But the difference is that for a long time during 1966-67 there was a serious display of pride and determination before their will was finally broken: this season those elements have too often been absent.
It took eight years for the Villa to recover from that relegation and the club’s general downturn. How long will it be this time?