Since the last international break its hard to pin down Villa’s true identity at the moment. We know we can score goals, which at times has made up a various short-comings.
Villa have been largely in control of their last two games, both away trips, the impressive 3-0 victory at the Riverside, followed by getting unlucky with some woeful referring at the Hawthorns in the recent 2-2 draw.
It’s now four wins in six games for Aston Villa, as they extend their unbeaten run. Considering the opposition in those games, progress under Dean Smith has been properly rubber-stamped and they are approaching every game with a sense of relish.
The Baggies game left Villa’s with similiar feeling to the previous 5-5 freak result against Nottingham Forest. There was disappointment that Villa didn’t see out the game and get the three points. But at 2-0 down against Forest early doors or before the game against the Albion, a draw would have been considered a decent result.
If Villa fans ultimately felt cheated by the Baggies result, at the performance reinforced the feeling that Villa are now a real force in the division, and should reek havoc in the second half of the season.
Five Reasons to be Cheerful…
1. Statement of Intent
Villa’s last three away games have all been against teams occupying the play-off spots. Seven out of nine points (yes, should have been nine, but for a very poor decision in the Baggies game) is a healthy return and bodes well for the coming weeks.
Next up for Villa are games against the pre-season favourite for the title, Stoke City, followed by a current favourite, Leeds. If Villa hold their nerve in those games, then they could potentially dominate the second half of the season.
2. Too Hot to Handle
Nottingham Forest and Middlesbrough’s defences had conceded the least amount of goals this season in the Championship before Villa banged the goals in against them.
Boro had only conceded 10 goals in 19 games, before Villa put three past them at the Riverside.
For Forest the game at Villa Park was the only time in their last five fixtures, where they haven’t kept a clean sheet.
Derby and Birmingham City also had top six defences before Villa set about them recently.
No defence in this division offers any insurance against this Villa forward line now.
3. Goals, goals, goals and more goals
Aston Villa are now the Championship’s second highest scorers with 41 goals in 21 games. They are second only to West Brom, who have scored 44 goals (including one hand ball goal) in 21 games.
The likes of Yannick Bolasie and most recently Anwar El Ghazi are starting to step up to become big weapons in Villa’s active and firing attacking arsenal. El Ghazi’s second against Albion was a strike of beauty.
Villa’s top-scorer, Tammy Abraham now has his eyes on being the top goalscorer in the Championship. His four against Forest bounced him up a few places in the division’s scoring charts.
Currently on 11 for the season, only Norwich’s Teemu Pukki (12), Brentford’s Neil Maupay (13) and Forest’s Lewis Grabban (14) have scored more goals in the division than Abraham.
Abraham though has been guilty of missing plenty of chances and could have wrapped up the Albion game before hands became involved.
Looking ahead, Abraham must improve his sharpness in front of goal, to go onto be a top class striker in the Premier League, where chances are few and far between. His recent unconvincing loan at Swansea City in the Premier League was an example of that.
Still, in the here and now, he’s helped revitalise the Villa frontline.
4. Levels and standards
It’s so good not to hear comments like wishy-washy comments like ‘We were excellent’ or ‘We’ll be there or thereabouts’ from a Villa boss when he does his media duties after a game. Instead we now get the kind of honest and frank analysis from Dean Smith, that used to be only found on supporter sites such as MOMS.
It’s refreshing and instantly banishes the weekly frustration of listening to post-match interviews and it also lifts the levels of Villa fan debate.
Smith is always looking at the bigger picture as he evolves the team. Despite beating Birmingham City 4-2, Smith wasn’t content with the performance, he saw flaws. Same with the barmy Wednesday night at Villa Park against Forest.
The man has standards and levels, and lets hope he fully reaches them this season to fulfil his obsession – promotion.
5. FSF Awards Night
As many will probably know MOMS was nominated for Best Fan Media in the FSF Awards this year. The night was hosted for the second year running at the Tower of London Pavilion, which is an impressive setting for such events (see MOMS instagram pics).
As MOMS stated when the nominations were made, there was no chance of MOMS actually winning the ‘Best Fan Award’ in a public vote. After all, the eventual winners Arseblog have 487k FB followers & 297k followers on Twitter!
MOMS had a decent night out sitting on one of the front tables with host James Richardson (former presenter of Channel 4’s Football Italia programme and host of the Guardian’s Football Weekly podcast) and Robbie Savage, whose 606 show won ‘Best Radio Show’ (I resisted the several calls from social media to ‘do a Dion Dublin’ on him).
The top fan media of the likes of clubs like Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United have access to such a large fanbase domestically and internationally that they have a substantial audience to fully support and allow them to increase the scope of what they do.
Which brings me onto thinking about the way ahead for MOMS in 2019…
Despite MOMS getting nominated and previously winning such awards, looking ahead to 2019, the question still is – will it be possible for me to continue MOMS?
Well, to continue in the same manner as it has been doing over the past seven years, the short and sharp answer is no.
MOMS, ultimately, is a one man show and being freelance, running MOMS has compromised my life in many ways. It’s been a fulfilling and enjoyable ride, so that’s why I’ve always blindly soldiered on with it.
As you know, as well as providing content, information and entertainment (across the website, podcast, social media platforms etc), the idea is to be in a position where Villa supporters that are MOMS readers and listeners can have a channel to influence supporter issues both at a club and national level. This all increasingly takes more and more time.
Recently MOMS was elected on the National Council of the country’s largest supporter body, that resulted from the merger of the Football Supporters Federation (FSF) and Supporters’ Direct (SD).
MOMS is also a key and founding member of the Villa Fan Consultation Group and recently agreed to sit on the WM Police Football Independent Advisory Group (IAG). After earlier in the year, returning to the House of Commons to sit on a couple of ministerial level think-groups on supporter issues (including safe standing).
All of these are worthwhile enterprises and I don’t do anything that is a waste of time in terms of being constructive in terms of supporter issues (there are too many talking shops for doing nothing in football).
All of this is to give you the best insight, contacts and knowledge of matters that could potentially concern you. To lobby on your behalf and get improvements to how you’re treated as a Villa supporter – from challenging the club on the quality of its services, stewarding and supporter relations to making sure supporters are treated right in terms of the authorities.
All of this takes up time and is unpaid. Also, the business model of creating content and giving it away for free has never been a sustainable model for anyone.
MOMS is independent and doesn’t answer to the club or any commercial bodies and sponsors etc. The only relationship MOMS wants is with Villa supporters. After all, we’re all on the same journey here.
MOMS doesn’t follow the clickbait model of churning out any old cr*p for clicks to earn ad revenue (which is a trap most media have fallen foul of), and the only reason it has existed recently is due to the fantastic support of MOMS Patrons.
As well as survival, while I know how to run things on a bootstrap, it limits what I can ultimately provide MOMS followers, readers and listeners. It would be great to actually fulfil the plans and ideas I have for you.
Being supporter funded is the best hope to provide an even better version of MOMS for free, with those who firmly stand beside MOMS as patrons, getting extra for their support.
MOMS has been using Patreon so that supporters can sign up as MOMS Patrons, and this month it’s going to really kick up a level in terms of what is provided to patrons on there (extra podcasts, content, MOMS reward draws etc).
More patrons means increasing the scope of MOMS, which means you get a better version of MOMS (and our patron/supporters will get an even better version!).
The FSF Award-winners for ‘Best Fan Media’, Arseblog, for example, has 21 times the amount of Patreon subscribers MOMS has. So they have a massive scope to be able to deliver, even before you consider the massive audience they have, which will bring in a lot more funding.
After a decent end to the year for MOMS, in terms of getting in a better position to move forward, after admittedly getting a bit down with it all (Dean Smith has helped with the overall picture on the pitch too), it would be great to going into 2019 firing on all cylinders.
I would be honoured if you could support MOMS by becoming a MOMS Patron through Patreon or as a MOMS Supporter via Facebook (which is something that will really kick-in in 2019) below. Whatever the level, or whether it’s short-term or long-term, it’s very much appreciated and will help improve MOMS going forward.
Any questions, drop me a line on email@example.com
Many thanks in advance.