For a change of prematch scene I found myself in the Witton Arms’ Away Fan section before the Swansea game. No, Sherwood hasn’t made me look for a new club, it was just the easiest place for me to have a drink with my visiting Swansea-supporting friend, who was wearing the Swans’ colours. As a few hundred of the boisterous Jack Army in the background watched Wales rattle up 61 points in the Rugby against Italy, every Swans fan we spoke to seemed pessimistic about their chances against the Villa.
The double win against the Baggies and the first half destruction of the Blackcats had obviously boosted Villa’s rep in Wales and we were no longer a place where you come for a complimentary three points. One chap had put a bet on Sinclair scoring the first goal and Villa to win 3-1, his drunken mate predicted 4-0 to the Villa, even my friend was not looking beyond a draw.
Later as the first half drew to an end, I had a feeling it would end 0-0 or the Swans would snatch it, based on them having a couple of chances cleared off the line. Plus, Guzan seemed to be flapping at everything. After a greedy Sinclair missed opportunities it didn’t look to be Villa’s day and Sherwood suffered for the second time, defeat at Villa Park in the dying minutes.
The relegation battle is now seriously on and better home showings will be needed, if Villa are to avoid the drop. In the meantime, here’s five reasons to be cheerful as Aston Villa fans…
1. Delph Effect
Called up once again this week for the England squad, Delph put in another decent performance while most of his teammates were largely uninspiring. A deserved man of the match, but there’s still room for improvement as these are the type of games that need a moment of inspiration from a truly top-notch captain to win them.
2. Media Message
After the sensationalism and moral panic approach of the BBC, The Sun and numerous press outlets, the Brigada 1874 supporters in the Holte End mirrored MOMS attitude to irresponsible coverage of celebrating supporters by sending them a distinct message in a terrific display before the game (see pic below).
It may have needed a few porkies to get it past stewards, but I’m sure privately the club would be behind the sentiment of the display after the press tried to make life difficult for them in terms of the FA, in whipping up the proverbial mountain out of a mole hill.
As well as making a point about the Villa situation (heightened by the hypocrisy of the media’s ‘lovely scenes’ coverage of the following Reading pitch invasion), it was an important message for football supporters across the board. It’s good to see the display already getting it’s fair share of support from Liverpool supporters amongst others.
3. Primark Prices
If the result wasn’t great, at least the ‘bring a buddy’ £10 seats (and season ticket upgrades options) and the £10 replica shirts offer helped boost the gate (probably by around 4k more than the club even expected for their incentives) and put smiles on a few fans faces, some of whom would have picked up a new shirt especially for that springtime stroll up Wembley way.
Football isn’t the cheapest sport to follow nowadays, so incentives like this are most welcome. I’m not normally one for shirt purchases, but even I couldn’t resist a long sleeve away top, normally retailing at a ridiculous £56, for a tenner.
4. Holte Laugh
While the Holte was pretty packed, it was always going to be impossible to match the amazing atmosphere of the FA Cup quarter-final. K4 were in good voice as per usual (it would be good if surrounding sections helped them keep ‘Tim Sherwood’s claret and blue army’ going for longer once they spark it up), as were Brigada 1874, but the highlight had to be the mock celebrations in the Holte when the ref finally gave us a free-kick around the 70 minute mark.
With four away ties left against teams chasing European glory, Villa’s home ties will carry extra importance in the battle for survival. Crowds will have to be more like the Baggies cup game to carry us through. We can’t just rely on those trusted voices in the Holte who carry the atmosphere week-in, week-out.
5. Win Ratio
Currently at 50%, if Tim Sherwood’s win ratio drops any further, at least we’ll always have Wembley.
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