Aston Villa have three more games remaining in what's turned out to be as miserable a season as any in recent memory. Though the odds of Villa being safe no matter what they do with those remaining three games are favorable, that's largely a function of just how many very bad teams are in the Premier League this season. There's no way for Villa to bring their season to the level of "respectable" at this point, and with that in mind it would probably be enough for most Villa fans just to secure safety and hope for better next season.
Thankfully, that could be accomplished this weekend. Even better, Villa don't necessarily even have to anything in order for it to happen; there's a very good chance Villa's goal difference could functionally guarantee their safety this weekend, even if they drop their final home game of the season. It would be a fitting way for Villa to secure their Premier League status; in most other seasons this team would likely be relegated by now, but thanks to the futility of the teams below them they'll probably end up surviving.
That's boring though, and a little defeatist. Apathy has long since set in as it relates to my feelings toward Villa's results; they're a bad team that's been pretty horrendous to watch for all but flashes of the last three seasons, and their promising start to this season-those were the days, weren't they?-has meant that relegation fears haven't been much of a factor for too awfully long. I watch the games and hope things turn out well, but I have so little faith that they will that the idea that Villa might win doesn't even cross my mind enough to really want it to happen. It's not that I don't care, it's just that I can't really bring myself to trust that Villa are capable of delivering.
For whatever reason though, this week has been different. I don't remember the last time I wanted Villa to win a game as badly as I do this one; the huge relegation clashes last season were probably more important, but for the most part I was just hoping for a result because it never got so bad that it felt like Villa needed to win any one game. And the relationship I had with last year's team was different; I still thought Paul Lambert was building something special, and when I watched those kids struggle to survive, I thought it was going to make them stronger in the years to come. To put in bluntly, I still liked them.
Now, I almost feel as though Villa fans are owed a win, which doesn't really mesh with my general outlook on the way the fan-team dynamic operates. Maybe it's because I feel bad for all of the people that go to Villa Park week-in and week-out, maybe it's because I'm irritated at the number of precious weekend hours I've dedicated to watching them flail around hopelessly. But no rational person could really expect a positive result out of Villa's final two games, and it just feels like the cosmically just thing that the club owes it to their fans to make them feel positive feelings for the first time in nearly two months. To secure survival themselves rather than letting someone else do it for them, and to give the crowd at Villa Park something to cheer genuinely.
I know, intellectually, that sports don't work this way. None of us are really owed anything, other than genuine effort from the players and club, and as many issues as I have with Paul Lambert and this Villa squad, I'm not going to question their work ethic. But even those of us that try to be rational to an obnoxious degree where our fandom is concerned have to acknowledge the emotional aspect of the game, and right now my emotions are telling me that if Villa don't beat Hull City, I am going to be throwing-things angry. Probably just because I want Villa to make me actually feel something one last time this season.