Five Reasons to be Cheerful
Oh football gods, really? Do we have to have another season where you serve up sh**e Villa results and I have to try and come up with five reasons to be cheerful for Villa fans every week. Come on, you’ve tortured me enough over five seasons.
The Independent on Sunday asked me what I thought of Villa’s preparation for the season for an article they ran over the weekend on Tommy Elphick.
‘In the pre-season games, we’ve been watching what we watched last season – it is effectively the same team, and that team is not going anywhere.’
It was a realistic opinion not warped by the usual start of season blind optimism, that a fresh slate brings. The first two defeats against Sheffield Wednesday and Luton have backed up the view, that this club needs a new team.
The defeat against Wednesday wasn’t such a big deal, as the Owls are a decent team and also Villa showed some promise in spells. The lapse in the final minutes and then the capitulation at Kenilworth Road though, were two red flags that this season may not go well, unless addressing the team’s short-comings is addressed asap.
After Derby got relegated from the Premier League, rooted at the bottom with less than 20 points, they haven’t returned since. That was nine seasons ago. That is a horror story that Villa can’t contemplate, but it is still a potential outcome, if complacency sets in.
Anyway, while Tony Xia and Roberto Di Matteo continue to try and sort this mess out, here’s five reasons to be cheerful as Villa fans…
1. Captain Tommy
In the aforementioned interview with the Independent, when talk turned to Villa’s recruitment so far and Tommy Elphick, I described Elphick as the kind of blue collar type of player the team needed more of for the Championship. Indeed, the big problem with the ex-Cherries defender is that Villa only have one of him.
While, he’s not exactly a world beater, his commitment to the cause (witness his bloodied Terry Butcher head bandage) and concentration, was world’s apart from anything seen in the Villa backline during the Luton game. I was actually left astounded by some of the decisions Richards and Okore were making at centre-back.
The news that James Chester looks to be incoming is a good move, if a little over priced in terms of transfer fee. The Baggies defender, as he proved at the Euros with Wales, is another blue collar grafter who with Tommy Elphick alongside him, will tighten the back up (as long as a new right-back is also brought in).
The only question I do have with a Elphick and Chester combo at the back is neither one of them is six foot tall. Maybe they could get away with that in the Premier League, but the Championship is a more traditionally physical league. Saying that, both have anchored Championship promotion success, so maybe it is an unnecessary worry.