‘We suddenly have a lot of time to work on this team, instead of deadlines for getting in the top six this season.’
The old saying that “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results” perfectly sums up the current Villa predicament. Aston Villa have gotten me questioning my own sanity.
Week-in, week-out, Villa fans are sure that things are finally going to get better, they have to, but without fail, disappointment infects our weekends. Ignore the lack of evidence, next week things will get better, or maybe the week after, or the week after that…
The insanity that has taken over this club from top to bottom has manifested itself as a complete lack of logic. We expect results despite the proof in front of us that it isn’t going to happen. We buy the best players from other teams only to crumble against them weeks later. The club is insistent that the glory days are around the corner regardless of the constant repetition of fatal mistakes.
We’re All Sick
As the weekly deja vu somehow continues to shock I converse with myself, promising that for my own mental health I’m going to take a few weeks off supporting Villa. Just until things improve. I’ll check the results but I won’t get too invested during the game.
Villa is a drug though. On occasion it brings euphoric highs, more recently the side effects are less enjoyable but cold turkey just isn’t an option. I know I’m not the only one.
So what can this club and it’s supporters do to endure it? Here’s a few crazy thoughts…
Abandon All Hope
Last season the entitlement of the overpaid players in our squad poisoned the club and relegation became inevitable. There have been widespread changes but a sense of entitlement and of unfounded expectation remains a millstone around the neck of the club.
The more we build up our hopes and expectations, the more hurt we are when things go wrong. The more this happens, the more frustrated and impatient we get. This frustration and anger create huge amounts of pressure on our unstable under performing squad. Our reactions are natural, but they unfortunately are not helpful.
Forget about a promotion drive this season. Forget the dreaded ‘R’ word. Somehow we must help nurse this team back to a stable condition. We’ve lost our unbeaten home record. Good. That was the last desperate straw hiding harsh reality. The last corner that we could hide in and claim that things were going ok.
Expectation should well and truly be gone now. Like it or not, this season must now be used to stabilise and build something more slowly but hopefully more helpful in the long run. Build some better play, build a few results, then worry about the ‘great revival.’ We suddenly have a lot of time to work on this team, instead of deadlines for getting in the top six this season.
The best thing about our upcoming clash with Newcastle (other than being on a Monday so that it can’t ruin the weekend) is that we should finally be going into a game we aren’t expecting to win. We’ve got nothing to lose.
Stop Worshipping False Idols
Nowhere has our expelling of frustration been worse than in our constant delusions of grandeur around certain players.
Not too long ago many fans campaigned for Leandro Bacuna to be shipped out of the club. Last week there was uproar over him and the always over-hyped and mistake prone Jordan Amavi started on the bench in the loss to Forest. The same Amavi gifted a penalty, albeit a bit soft, against Barnsley in the following game.
Just like the insistence that the mediocre Libor Kozak was the missing link at times last term we had the Hepburn Murphy saga this term. It was a ‘disgrace’ that the youngster, who is yet to thrive even at underage level, wasn’t in the first team and wasn’t being humoured with a contract beyond his ability. A few weeks ago he was the answer. One contract and a return to the reserves later and he has quickly been largely forgotten.
The criticism of certain players is also redundant or misplaced. Alan Hutton for example. (I’m defending Hutton, I’ve definitely lost the plot!). Hutton is not a good player but it’s ridiculous to waste energy hating on one of the few players who seems at least committed on the pitch.
Obviously the problem is that the Scot is not actually very good at football but you can’t fault a man for trying his best. It’s the club’s fault that we have gone so long without better options, and he’ll be gone in the summer anyway.
That said, hopefully Bree is back soon, although remember, he is young and yet to prove too much either. Let’s not get carried away about his importance too early.
The Black Sheep
Jack Grealish, the biggest false idol at the club, has also become a problem. Talented but inconsistent, it is becoming harder and harder to see where the local lad fits into the team. We all want him to be a home grown saviour but he seems incapable of affecting games in anything but short spells from the bench and there are more natural options in most positions.
His needless red card last week left the team high and dry and played a large part in turning a potential win into another soul crushing loss. There’s still time for the lad, but much like the club this season, huge improvement is needed.
The Riddle of Jimmy Danger
The biggest call that Steve Bruce has to make is that of how Jonathan Kodjia fits into this ‘team’. The Ivorian is our top scorer and one of our only goal threats, but his selfish attitude is hindering the creation of a team mentality, especially in the final third. Hogan needs support and his frustration at Kodjia’s insistence on going alone despite better options has already been noted.
Dropping Kodjia may seem extreme but it could also send a message about the collective mentality that must be demanded of this squad. Alternatively he could be pushed out wide for a while allowing Hogan to be the main man. Kodjia seems best suited to the centre but that said, he contributed goals and was able to cut in from wide earlier this season and with Adomah on the other flank defences would be stretched.
There are goals in our front two and the key to restoring the fortunes and confidence of the club are in finding the best way to accommodate the two best (and only) strikers at the club.
Change The Script
I’m not on the ‘Bruce out’ bandwagon yet (I’m no longer sure if that’s based on logic or a disconnection from reality), but I repeat my opening line: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.”
Play the more experience Bunn. Come up with a clear game plan. Don’t sub off our best players. Play players in the right position.
We don’t expect world beaters, it would be nice to avoid the same complete sh*t every week though.
For now I’m taking a break from all things Villa. But obviously only until Monday. Then I’ll be putting my mood on the line again, because good times or bad I just can’t shake the Villa in the veins. One more hit…
It may not be very good for my health but the doc says I’ve got ‘VTID’, so I guess, like it or not, ‘we go again’. The question is do we expect a different result this time?
Make sure you’re following Finn on Twitter here – @FinnMongey