Tomorrow, Tomorrow, You're Only...

Some birthday present for Stephen Ireland. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)


Cheer up, guys. Tomorrow might not bring a shiny new claret and blue horizon, but we can put a smile on our faces and hope for the best on Thursday.

Sure, the papers may be mocking us. The dailys might be filled with photographs of Gareth Barry hugging James Milner that make us want to tear out our eyes and wretch out our breakfasts. The sight of black and white stripes might still be making our blood boil.

I'm not going to tell you that it's just a game. I know what it's like to continue seething--even for days--after a bad result. The images of goals peppering the net pops up in the brain, unbidden, ever-mocking. After the Chelsea match last year, I refused to read about football for the next week. That's how much I didn't want to deal with the way that Villa fell apart.

But what I will tell you is this: It's just three points. When we lost by the same margin to Chelsea last year, it was while Villa were in the midst of a long-shot campaign for fourth place. Supporters thought the tides had turned, and that Villa would now continue to spiral downward, perhaps even miss out on European qualification altogether.

What happened, though, was almost the opposite: Villa picked up 13 out of 15 points over the next five league games. Sure, we lost the FA Cup semi-final to Chelsea, and a couple of those games were a bit too close for comfort. The point is, the Villa of last year didn't have a long stretch of hopelessness. We had the four games in December and January where we couldn't win, but three out of four of those games were to Arsenal and Liverpool.

There's no real cause to believe that this wretched loss will provoke a long winless streak, either. Kevin MacDonald has admitted he made some screwy decisions with regard to team selection. The squad, hard as it is to say, looked slightly lost without Milner in the midfield. We need Gabby to come back because Carew ain't cutting it.

I don't want to be overly optimistic. I tried that for two games and it got me a 6-0 loss. I have no idea if we can keep Rapid Vienna from scoring on us twice when they come to Villa Park on Thursday. But what I do know is that this was just three points--it shouldn't be extrapolated to the rest of the season. it's not time to pack up the kits and forget about all things claret and blue.

Not that we could do that anyway. It's a sick disease, loving Villa.

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