It's the morning after the night before, and AVFC fans are still feeling like the win against Manchester City might have been a dream. After all, Darren Bent not only scoring in his debut but providing the only goal against a club at the top of the table...well, who imagined that from the struggling Aston Villa?
We did. We, as supporters, dare to dream. And often that dream gets us in trouble when the reality of the match sends us crashing back down to earth. Last minute goals conceded, 6-0 drubbings, penalties missed, strikers unable to capitalize, defensive shambles: Aston Villa fans have seen it all this season. Yet somehow, we all still dared to believe. And to believe against Manchester City, of all clubs.
I don't know about anyone else, but yesterday, even after Bent scored, I was able to simultaneously believe and not believe. My head was holding two contradictory thoughts: "Aston Villa can actually take all three points against Manchester City, even after we rolled over and let them beat us 4-0 just a few short weeks ago." "There's no way Aston Villa can hold on to this lead. We regularly drop points in the last five minutes. This is utterly impossible." Really, I'm surprised my brain didn't explode as the two thoughts struggled for dominance.
And now we Villa fans have another challenge before us, as we must both believe and not believe that our club will fight for a European spot. A win at Wigan could lift us to 13th. Two wins can easily see us through to European contention. Yet considering just last week we were fussing over relegation, is it possible to really and truly believe Aston Villa can move that far ahead?
It's not possible for me to dream on Europe, yet at the same time, it's impossible not to. That hope, the thought that we could shove a big "I told you so" at all other clubs while putting out a team that actually looks talented, will not leave my brain. Yet rationally, I also know that beating out the likes of Sunderland, Bolton, Liverpool, Blackburn and Newcastle isn't really possible.
So on one hand we have this: the best match of Aston Villa's season. We saw a bright attack and an incredible defense. We saw the team we've been waiting for since August. On the other, we have the voices in our heads saying we've been let down too many times, it's best not to hope, the pain of squelched dreams is too much. And somehow, us fans - fans of all clubs, not just the Villa - manage to both believe and not believe all at once.
Where do you stand? Where do you think Aston Villa will finish at the end of the season? Go vote.