Thoughts and issues regarding the past and present of a great football club by "The Chronicler".

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Villa Always Has Been, And Will Be, A Premier Club!

And so it happened: promotion after a hard battle (particularly in the last 15 minutes) versus Derby. But lack of shooting skills were again evident, the first goal coming off a shoulder and the second off a head after their keeper flapped and presented the chance. But they all count, don't they, and, overall, the Villa looked the better team. I wish Derby well for next season.

This has been a season of miracles really. One minute (last summer) we were on the verge of bankruptcy and in the next minute new owners had come in. The old manager did not last long and was dealt a rather harsh card, although I can see the reasons why.

Dean Smith arrived in October as a known Villa fan and with a record of applying good footballing principles at his former, smaller, clubs. But could he get his head around a big club and get promotion for the first time in his career? He's proved he can certainly do that and has shown great acumen in dealing with the horrendous injury situation in defence at the end of 2018, as well as the lengthy absence of Grealish.

What did we end up with? A record 10-match winning spell to create a new club record and propel us from mid-table to a promotion play-off spot. Not only did we then gain promotion but, for the first time in Villa's history, we actually have boyhood supporters as both manager and captain! 

It was good to see the resurrection of players like Elmo and Taylor, and in Mings, El Ghazi and Abraham we also gained first-rate helpers for Jack and McGinn. But since those three players were brought in on loan we wait to see whether they can become permanent Villa players.

And after all the messing around with goalkeepers from outside, we found that the custodian we needed had been at the club the whole time! It took a long time to steer in the right direction on that matter!

The owners say that now "the sky is the limit". Well, we'll see. There will certainly be player comings-and-goings in the summer, but it's going to be yet another interesting ride.

The main thing for now is that we're UP. Also that the horrible period between 2011 and 2018 is behind us.

Well done to everyone concerned!


Friday, 24 May 2019

The Day Cometh Near...

The day cometh near; the future of Aston Villa stands on a knife-edge depending on what result transpires on Monday.

If the Villa fail to win then clearly the future of Jack Grealish immediately comes under scrutiny, and the chances are that he would leave, despite the quite large price-tag that is set for him as I understand it. Not only Jack but loan players of the ilk of Abraham, Mings and El Ghazi would be unlikely to stay for another Championship season. Tuanzebe is almost certain to return to his club anyway, whatever the result, and Abraham may have to stay with Chelsea also.

Losing Grealish, Mings and El Ghazi would be a great shame. But a win would make all the difference, for I would then see those loanees becoming permanent Villa players (Tuanzebe and Abraham I will not consider for reasons stated) and Jack would be here for at least another season.

If the Villa were not to win then we stay in the Championship. It would not be the end of the world; after all defensively we still have Chester, Elphick and (very likely) Hause, although Hutton will most likely have ended his career with Villa whatever the outcome. Jedinak and Whelan are getting on, but perhaps there's still a role for them in the Championship.

It's in midfield where the loss of Grealish and El Ghazi would be particularly noted, not helped by the donwturn in performance of Albert, who, like Hutton, may well be at the end of the road as far as Villa are concerned.

But the greatest impact of all may be the impact on morale, both in the club and for the fans. That would be a big hurdle to overcome. And would McGinn ask for a transfer?

I do not like to consider the negatives, but there is that side of the coin: it's one that cannot be ignored.

The only remedy to negativity, however, is just to be positive! I Know Villa fans will be in full throttle on Monday, so let's give it our best shot! Deano and the players need every encouragement for success after their achievements against all odds since February.


Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Phew! Well, We're Monarchs Of The Birmingham Area

Well, we're through. But I have to say (in trying to look at it from a neutral observer's standpoint) that justice was done in the end.

The Albion - as the 2-legs progressed - seemed to rely more and more on sheer aggression in their effort to force their way through to the Final, and it's a source of wonder that only 2 of their players were sent off in the 2 matches. The referee certainly seemed to let go a lot of very questionable stuff, sometimes not giving fouls and at other times not booking players when they should have been.

The 2-legs were also, of course, of great importance to determine the Monarchy of the Birmingham Area.

However, the Villa should not have had to let it go to a decision by penalty kicks. The main weakness in Villa's play all season has been their finishing, and 24 shots yesterday but only 6 on target is very much par-for-the-course for Villa. And of those 6 on target, it could be said that only 2 or 3 troubled their 'keeper.

But it did have to go to a decision by penalties and Jed Steer (who had saved gloriously early on in the first leg) again showed his true ability by fending out the first two efforts by Albion. Only Albert caused a slight doubt that Villa might lose their advantage when he shot high and wide. Abraham soon settled it with the next Villa kick.

So. The Final. We've gotta win it! Haven't we?


Sunday, 5 May 2019

Look Out Albyun! We're Coming!

Well, resting several first-choice players (including El Ghazi, on the bench) against the champions-elect was not likely to have resulted in a win, but it was nearly good enough to obtain a draw! Least said otherwise about that match which had no real meaning for us except the chance to keep the unbeaten run going.

What worries me somewhat is whether Villa have gone off the boil, for the last three matches have not been played in such a good fashion as those earlier. However, the fact that the play-off semis is against the Albyun should produce a sufficient adrenalin rush for the players to obtain the necessary qualification to the final. The only snag is that the second leg is at the Hawthorns, so we really need a two-goal lead from the first leg in my view to be fairly sure of getting through.

In our match at the Hawthorns earlier this season we should have won but for that late handball that passed as an equaliser. When the Albyun came to VP the Villa were not in a good state injury-wise and caused it to be easier for them than it should have been. But these play-offs will be the real thing, I'm sure, with Villa's extra skill and pressure game surely being good enough so long as we have our defence playing their usual game, and not the one we saw versus Norwich.

I suppose we can think negatively with the thought 'what's to happen if we don't win the play-offs?', but really it's all in the Villa's hands and some positive support from the great support the club has. My goodness, a season's best attendance against Norwich today, the third 41,000+ attendance this season, and an average home attendance of over 36,000! That's amazing for the second tier. 

I do really hope that Villa can break the awful run of the last 9 years and get back to the Premier League; we do not (I'm sure) want to see us lose Jack, and the chance of keeping Mings may also pass us by if we don't go up. 

But, first things first. We have generally upset the Albyun on the occasion of us meeting on meaningful occasions (starting with the FA Cup Final in 1887). Let's make sure that we remain top of the West Midlands after the two upcoming games!