2015 – has there ever been an Aston Villa year with so many lows, or even so many Villa managers?! Lambert, Sherwood, McDonald & Garde all brought their own versions of misery to Villa Park. Sticking out like diamonds in a compost heap, there have been the odd good moment though, including one of the best Villa games and wins in recent times.
What were your favourite Villa memories of the year? Please do share them in the comments section below. Roll on 2016, it’s certainly going to be eventful!
FIVE FAVOURITE VILLA MOMENTS OF 2015
5 Grealish Goal
Villa’s capitulation against Leicester City towards the start of this season probably did a lot of damage to the team’s confidence. After playing well and scoring two good goals, the fact we still lost was a harrowing insight into the defensive fragilities that have plagued Villa over the past few seasons.
Grealish’s goal against the Foxes had been a long time coming, building on the good performances the academy product had shown under Tim Sherwood, and was also a welcome distraction from the summer’s media spotlight on Jack Grealish’s trip to Tenerife.
It’s still a source of frustration for Villa fans that we threw the lead today, but I bet most celebrated that goal more than they normally would.
4 Man City Stalemate
It seems ridiculous to include a 0-0 draw as one of the best moments of a team’s season, but that’s life as a Villa fan for you. It was Remi Garde’s first match as Villa manager. We all knew how well he’d done at Lyon, but a match against Man City represented a tough managerial debut.
The eventual draw was a good point for Garde, and while there wasn’t too much in terms of attacking action, the performance hinted at good things to come…perhaps it was the last shred of hope we’ve received as Villa supporters this season.
The game was also billed as ‘The Return of the Snake’, and Fabian Delph left knowing exactly what the Villa faithful thought of his summer move.
3 Beating the Baggies Twice in a Week
Pride of the Midlands? With the likes of Leicester and Stoke impressing in the league and our current position, it seems difficult to claim the ‘Pride of the Midlands’ tag as ours this season. Tim Sherwood was almost annoyingly passionate about everything he did upon his arrival at Villa Park but to his credit, he grasped the pride at stake during a local derby.
Last minute penalties. Pitch invasions. The two home matches against West Brom in the 2014/15 season seemed to encapsulate a level of drama that had been absent from Villa Park in years.
One of Sherwood’s last games as Villa manager was a 1-0 home loss to the Baggies, but that shouldn’t undo the memories of the 2015 Baggies double.
2 Paul Lambert is Sacked
OK, so things are hardly better now, but for a long period it looked like Lambert was invincible. Embarrassing cup exits (and ‘that’ Cup semi-final) and league defeats had typified the Scot’s reign which made his shiny new contract in 2014 all the more baffling.
Following 10 league matches without a win the ex-Norwich manager was finally sacked – despite CEO Tom Fox’s comments on a ‘false narrative’ – whatever that means.
Admittedly there were some high points under the guidance of Lambert, but he never seemed quite able to build the team he envisioned, and at one point Lambert revealed competing in Europe was part of his long-term plan. After seeing Villa drop into the relegation zone, Lambert was sacked after a 2-0 loss to Hull City.
Sadly, the relief and excitement of a new manager qualifies this memory as one of the best Villa moments of 2015.
1 FA Cup Semi-Final
During yet another season of disappointment, Villa’s 2-1 win against Liverpool at Wembley was an undisputed highlight. Even if the two goal-scorers have since departed, watching the highlights of the game still gives me goosebumps.
Jack Grealish delivered an eye-catching performance, Delph produced his best turn in a Villa shirt, but in truth all the players impressed. There was even a goal-line clearance from the much-maligned Kieran Richardson!
Despite the ultimate disappointment in the final, the penultimate game of the competition hinted at a bright future under Tim Sherwood. It was a match that showed Villa were straying from the narrative (it was Gerrard’s birthday) and putting up a fight.
For any Villans who had grew up in the 1980’s surrounded by Liverpool glory hunters, it was payback time!
To think back to that day and then look at where Villa are now, almost brings a tear to the eye. UTV
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