With David Michael
1.#19 Petrov Tributes
There’s no doubt what the worst news for Aston Villa FC was in 2012, with the Villa captain being diagnosed with acute leukemia. In a time when Villa were slipping in the league, after the club’s gamble on an unwanted manager began to backfire and split fans, Petrov’s cause rallied Villa supporters together. Game after game, Villa fans have paid tribute on the 19-minute mark, showing the football world that there is more to football than just money. Other club’s supporters have joined in, most notably the fans of Liverpool at Villa’s two trips to Anfield this year.
Villa fans also extended the tribute to celebrate the recovery of Fabrice Muamba, giving the player an applause tribute on the six-minute mark (the player’s shirt number) when Bolton visited Villa Park last season.
At the second-leg of the Bradford City semi-final there will be a #DoItForStan banner.
2. Alex McLeish’s Sacking
The facts said it all. McLeish just didn’t work. He was a nice enough guy, but with the job in hand, needed all the help he could get to buy him time. Yet, that was the point, due to his record at his previous employees and the fact of who his employees were, he was never going to have a honeymoon period or enjoy any patience from the Villa fans. The board had made a horrible miscalculation. Witness the difference of having the Villa fans behind a manager when Lambert suffered his Christmas nightmare period. McLeish would have been lynched if he chalked up a 8-0, 4-0 and 3-0 set of results!
3. Villa’s Signing of Christian Benteke
Who? Then it was, why? But that soon turned into ‘Oooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh Christian Benteke’! With Benteke’s name the most popular of all on the back of supporter’s Villa shirts, he’s become an instant Villa hero.
4. League Cup Run
Imagine this season without it! It would have been the same as last season, and it would have been hard to stomach two such rotten seasons on the trot. The Manchester City and Norwich games should have their own mention, as both showed glimpses of what we might be able to expect from Villa in the future. If Villa can make the final, it should have a knock-on effect of building confidence for improvement in the league.
5. The Rise of Andi Weimann
Villa have had a bunch of Academy stars that have flickered with potential, and the big question was always would any of them really make it? Weimann though seems to be the real deal. Both Bent and Lambert are on record as declaring Weimann as the best natural finisher at the club. Add to that a great work ethic, and Villa may really start to reap the rewards of their academy.
6. The Paul Lambert Approach
It may be slow and painful, building the foundations of a proper team from young players, but it may be the only way to give Villa a backbone to compete at the top end of the table again in a couple of seasons. We’re already one game away from Wembley, so while we wait, that’s not a bad sweetener.
7. The Robbie Keane Show
Too old? Past it? A waste of money and about a decade too late, moaned sections of Villa supporters, but Keane’s cameo in Villa dire season was one of the few highlights last season. His brace against Wolves brought a vital three points, and his showing in the first half of the FA Cup tie at the Emirates brought Villa close to disposing of Arsenal.
8. Liverpool 1 Aston Villa 3
Flashes of liquid football. The young lions may have ridden their luck in the early stages of the game, but then they put Liverpool to the sword in a similar fashion to which they had dispatched Norwich in the League Cup quarter finals, a few days earlier. It was evidence of what Lambert’s Villa will hopefully serve up, once all the pieces are in place.
9. Chelsea 1 Aston Villa 3
It was a result that offered a brief light at end of the dark tunnel. It provided fresh hope for the McLeish reign, which for him, unfortunately only lasted until the next fixture!
10. The return of the Brad
Brad Guzan looks a different keeper since Lambert astutely resigned the American for Villa. Before, while Guazan could save penalties and was a decent shot-stopper, he was prone to the odd flap. Now though, he has shown growing confidence in commanding his box and is the only proper star of the Villa defence. Deserved Villa’s number one shirt above Shay Given, and deserves a much better defence!
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