By Adam Keebler
Villa are heading back to Wembley, this time for the FA Cup Final, after beating Liverpool. What we learned as Aston Villa fans from the 90 minutes (plus injury time) from the semi-final?
[quote_center]A Liverpool fan at Wembley would have to admit the Villa fans were pretty intimidating[/quote_center]
ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST
The bad stuff first. The loss of Nathan Baker at Wembley leaves the club with only two fit central defenders. While Okore, who replaced Baker, was at fault for the Liverpool goal but was otherwise stable and got better, it’s the long view after the streamers and partying is over that is a worry – we still aren’t safe in the league.
Do Villa’s chances look better than under Lambert? My goodness, yes. But to become a team that wins a cup but goes down would be like being served a dog poop ice cream sundae with a cherry on top.
Maybe three more points will do it. Maybe the teams beneath us keep picking up points and putting the pressure on. But as well as having a free-scoring Benteke and the maverick play-making of Grealish, we have something else on our side that hasn’t been prevalent at Aston Villa for some time. Belief. And as we saw in the semi-final we have the ability to make short work of ensuring Premier League survival.
WE BELIEVE THAT WE CAN WIN
A Liverpool fan at Wembley would have to admit the Villa fans were pretty intimidating. The team looked relaxed even as the FA, the media, the sponsors and Steven Gerrard’s mum were all hoping for an Arsenal v Liverpool final. But after years of expecting dour, dull, predictable defeat, there was – and is – a belief that the good times are just around the corner. And that we can go into a game with a plan that involves attacking, free-flowing football, fast counters with flair and most importantly, get results.
There’s no doubt securing the Cup Final place provides momentum going into the last five league games. One more knock to a central defender would lead to a defensive crisis, but there’s also a belief that the team would deal with it.
Sinclair and Westwood are back. The Telegraph is among some calling for a Tom Cleverley England recall. Imagine that six months ago. And while not wanting to go on about Grealish, bloody hell he was good on Sunday. He was everything he was billed as and while his former manager was telling him he was miles away, his current manager has let him loose and been rewarded with a player in a team and a system that leads to results like Sunday’s one. How hard can it really be to win a couple more on the run in?
The fans at Wembley were amazing. It doesn’t take much a start a little squabble in the online forums about songs or “real fans” (supporting your team shouldn’t be a competition with other fans, by the way) but as a family who don’t always get along we showed the footballing world that we all want the same thing which was put to me recently and has stuck with me: there has to be more to Aston Villa Football Club than relegation battles and trying to hang on to our best players.
Sunday proved there can be more. And it’s good to be greedy and want more. If you want to pick on someone for not being as big a Villa fan as you, you’re doing it wrong. Pick on some poor bugger that supports another cr*ppy team that isn’t even going to the FA Cup Final this year instead.
SHERWOOD YOU BELIEVE IT?
Tim Sherwood is looking more and more like a really good fit at Villa. Like Graham Taylor, John Gregory, Brian Little and Ron Atkinson, he “gets it”.
And like Big Ron in particular, he knows that confidence is going to be portrayed as smugness or arrogance. Rubbish. People outside Villa wanted him to fail because of his attitude but he hasn’t changed. He does the right thing publicly, he’s approachable, funny, witty – and on the field his man-management is *entering self-restraint mode* a pleasant change from the last three managers who have been at Villa Park and lacked that understanding of what being in charge of Aston Villa Football Club is really about and what the fans want and expect.
And so far, Sherwood has delivered it. And as for going into the Cup Final, would you bet against us?
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