Tony Garnett • Blog Posts

Villa Winning!?!

Crisis at Villa Park!!
Trashing of tradition. Fans in severe distress.
Who is to blame?

This emotionally disorientating behaviour began with the appointment of Steve Bruce as manager, though collusion right up to the boardroom is suspected.

No matter what team was picked, new player or old, or what formation was used, the team started winning, not as an occasional fluke, but week after week. There was a blip when they reverted to their neo-classical tradition of losing, usually by conceding a late goal. But that was a false dawn. For weeks now they have been winning, whatever the opposition. An away draw is the best we can expect of this squad.

The betrayal is compounded by the manner of the wins. They are not flukes. They play real, modern football, a style only occasionally witnessed at Villa Park when a Champion’s League contender was forced by the fixture list to honour us with a visit.
Our lads not only began to pass forward, instead of across the park, but they passed to another Villa player, instead of our traditional practice of politely giving the ball back to the opposition.

Our back four began to talk to each other, then hold the line, pushing forward together. It looked positively Prussian in its discipline and concentration. What happened to the entertaining spectacle of watching a tetchy group blaming each other as our dejected goalkeeper, close to tears, picked the ball out of the net? Are those to be just treasured memories we entertain our children with?

But the club’s greatest betrayal has been in the choice and training of our strikers.

One can forgive players who have a knack for consistently scoring goals. That is a reassuring failure of back office behaviour. Buying the wrong player is a Villa tradition. But to omit to train them, day after disciplined day, in the Villa way, is unforgivable. What is training for? What do they do all week at Bodymoor Heath? It’s as though management has casually forgotten, or worse, has no respect for the modern traditions of the club.

Our strikers when faced with an open goal should know how to keep their nerve and blast the ball over the goal into the middle of the Holte End. Before Bruce, for season after season, they consistently achieved this. Now, virtually the only player to carry the flag for tradition is Agbonlahor. Revealingly, he is rarely even on the bench. Such a waste. For years he perfected this difficult technique.

Why, at least, isn’t he used to train the new strikers?
Why buy Kodja in the first place? Having bought him, why not sell him? It’s clear he will never fit into the Villa, a club proud of its traditions. He, and others I could mention, are clearly treating loyal fans with contempt. Taking your chances week after week is just taking the piss.

Let me warn Steve Burce. The muttering round the stadium could soon turn into outright revolt. Change your mind now. Don’t dare get near the play offs – ever – or you face the consequences. I know, after your time at that Blue place, you think Brummies are too half soaked to be bothered to revolt. They just look depressed and mutter. But the Villa faithful are proud of their traditions and won’t allow some foreigner to trash them for long.

Consistently winning is causing distress and disturbing the lugubrious mood of loyal fans. Their mantra “it won’t last” is nearly exhausted. In Brum every cloud has a black lining. We want to keep it that way.
Lose or leave!!!



2 Responses so far.

  1. Mamal wrightl Wrightright says:
    How well I remember the elation on discovering that the Interweb allowed me to watch every Villa game. I live a 100 miles from Football’s cathedral & Saturday afternoons, it seemed, just got better. My heart shrank with every dispiriting, more predictable, capitulation. Four seasons of finishing 15th or worse was bound to end badly. The loss of our top scorer & our “loyal” captain in its opening weeks meant that finally there would be a season as bad as 1986-87. This year has had its embarrassments. What was Micah Richards doing in the side (just twice thank goodness) ? Did our new £12m striker really miss training because he was too overweight to climb over his busted gate ? It was difficult to argue a case that we were not a club in freefall.
    Tony, you & I are old enough to remember great years, great sides & great players at Villa. When I stood on the Clock End at Highbury on the 2nd of May 1981 I thought “Well, this has happened, possibly never again but this has happened”. I didn’t expect it to happen every year, didn’t even know that I was watching the best team in Europe. What I did & do still expect is that the Villa attract good players who play attractive football in the Premier League & win our share. In the 1990’s, under Atkinson, Little & Gregory, this happened. I know that the argument that we are too “big” a club to go the way of Nottingham Forest, Wolves or Coventry is a soft one but I genuinely believe it to be true.
    As this season has progressed we have seen an improvement all round, there is still deadwood on the wage bill to be shifted & promotion via the play-offs would not be good for the club. Next year (it’s the hope that kills you !) we have to show the Championship what’s what & reclaim our permanent place in the Premier League. It’s gonna happen !
    I used to want an FA Cup win before I got too old to appreciate it. Now I’d settle for a reason to watch Match of the Day again.
    • Tony Garnett says:
      Yes, we both have memories of triumphs as well as disasters, but the ones we like are those of a proud Villa playing cultivated football, holding their own with the great club sides.
      My own memories go back, through the reminiscences of my Victorian granddad, to the great 1890s.
      So my satirical blog was born of despair.
      As you say, it’s the hope that kills you, but I still can’t help thinking that Steve Bruce might be doing a long term creative job at villa Park. Let’s hope he’s left alone to continue.
      We may come good. It’s all happened before, hasn’t it?
      Hope may kill us, but what else have we got?
      Thanks for writing to me.