In just a little under six hours, Aston Villa will welcome West Bromwich Albion onto the Villa Park pitch for the first time this season. And in just under one hundred hours, they will welcome the Baggies onto the Villa Park pitch for the second time this season. To say that I am a nervous wreck at this point would be understating things. I've sat here for half an hour trying to think of something to write this morning and my mind just keeps doing the hamster wheel thing.
This site has had huge growth in the past year, largely as a result of becoming more comprehensive in what we cover. But left behind in all of that growth has been what this site was made for: the passion of the fan. Well, scratch that. There is still absolutely that passion here. I know that every one of our writers loves Villa as dearly as any other fan alive. So the passion is there. What's been missing is a place where we just express our unclouded fan-thoughts.
Without analysis or rationality, I am horrified by today's match. I want to think that Aston Villa can win this. Heck, as a fan I'm supposed to think that they can win this. But I've seen this play too many times to be suckered in again. It has the set up for some great sport movie stuff:
EXT. VILLA PARK - DAY
Fans mill about in claret and blue. They look despondent, and carry banners that read "Lerner Out."
NARRATOR (VO)A once-glorious team is reeling. On the brink of relegation. Their manager gone, their owner absent, and their fans without hope.
INT. VILLA PARK - NIGHT
A match is in progress. Aston Villa taking on West Bromwich Albion. The visitors score two goals and hope looks lost.
CLOSE-UP - CHRISTIAN BENTEKE TALKING TO TIM SHERWOOD
NARRATOR (VO)But when all seemed lost, two men led the charge away from disaster...
And from there they stave off relegation, win the FA Cup, and walk into the bright lights of the media in the tunnel at Wembley as the film fades out.
But real life so rarely happens like the movies. Aston Villa are, in theory, better than they have been this year. But we've gotten to the point where theory doesn't matter and we have to accept that regardless of what we think, Villa are bad. So yes, this match terrifies me. The chances of the movie starting here are so slim.
And yet, I haven't given up entirely. It may be partly selfish. Villa may lose, and they may lose out after this. But win these next two. If you go down to the Championship, please don't let it be West Brom who send you there. Lose to Burnley on the season's last day. Fine. Whatever. But don't drop these matches. Watching Baggie fans celebrate a demise that they helped usher in would be insufferable. Watching them celebrate securing a trip to Wembley at Villa Park would break my heart.
Let's break theirs instead. I'm not sure if winning today kick-starts the movie script. But it certainly would go a long way towards taking the edge off of a universally terrible season. Let's repeat 4-3 from last year. Let them have a two-goal lead only to have it evaporate in horrifying fashion. Let the Baggies be the ones who get punched in the gut when Joleon Lescott makes a stupid studs-up tackle in the last minute of the match that gives Benteke the winning penalty.
I'm off to run some errands, but when I come home I'll be here watching with all of you. No matter what happens the rest of the season, let's just get that win today. I can't stand the thought of anything else.