Saturday is Villa’s "Retro Day," with supporters urged to wear their favourite classic kits to the ground. It should be a cool sight, and there are some real beauties in our past; we’ll have something up tomorrow on that front.
It’s always surprised me that Villa have just one league title since 1910. Sure, we’ve never been a huge club in England, but Villa are still the biggest club in the country’s second-largest city. They should be doing better.
Villa have an incredibly proud history, yet the only consistent form of success in the last century has been through the League Cup. It’s kind of weird, in a way. The club who were so instrumental in founding the Football League, who were so consistently good in the early days of the FA Cup, haven’t enjoyed much success since then.
And when I look back on that 1980-81 league-winning Villa side, it’s utterly remarkable how much luck that team had. Sure, it was a different era of football, but to only field 14 players all season en route to a title? That’s unheard of in today’s game.
But everything had to go right for that team. They needed to stay largely injury-free to pip Ipswich to the title, which they did; seven players were ever-present. They lost to Ipswich in the FA Cup Third Round, which may have been the best loss in club history. They needed Ipswich to struggle down the stretch.
You look at it all and it’s just a perfect storm that came together. I mean, sure, that team was damn talented and they proved that in Europe the next year, but even then, if Peter Withe hits the ball well, we might have been destined for a 0-0 that night in Rotterdam.
Point is that a lot had to go right for Villa to have their latest bout of success. And that’s kind of frustrating.
Why? This year’s team has had pretty much everything go wrong, and that’s what’s terrifying right now for me.
After the first four games of the year — in which we made out like bandits — Villa haven’t had things quite go their way. I think the club has spent more time with just two fit centre backs than with three or more. It’s insane.
And over the time of Tim Sherwood’s reign, it still feels like things maybe aren’t breaking our way in the league. I feel a little better after Chelsea finally woke up yesterday, but we’re seeing a load of things coming together that could result in a perfect storm.
Aston Villa have contested nine matches under Tim Sherwood, where they have recorded 10 points. Nothing groundbreaking, despite the strong displays we’re seeing. It’s not that much better of a ratio than Paul Lambert had, all things considered, and we look at the Cup success as a reason to inflate our views.
This isn’t meant to slate Sherwood — far from it, in fact — but things haven’t broken right. Villa don’t only have 10 points since Sherwood took over because they aren’t playing better, they only have 10 points since Sherwood took over because they’ve been a little unlucky defensively as of late.
Sure, the defending has been a little shocking, but it’s hard to argue Villa haven’t deserved at least four more points under Sherwood — one against Stoke, two against QPR and one against Manchester City. Those would have been four huge points and, really, there’s other factors at play. Sure, Ron Vlaar and Brad Guzan have made crucial mistakes, but they’re ones that don‘t often happen. It’s unlucky, not a reflection of their quality as players.
Then you go to the QPR match and you tip your cap to a side that converted pretty much all its chances. It was a stupid, stupid game, and Villa got a little unlucky.
But that’s the perfect storm that cares me. Leicester City are playing well and have favourable fixtures coming up. While Hull City don’t have the greatest fixture list the rest of the way, they’re also picking up the points at the moment and could get it done with a win and a draw.
All it takes is Jermain Defoe remembering he can score goals and a few bounces going against Villa and it could be Tim Sherwood’s Claret and Blues going down in a month’s time.
With how much better they’re playing right now? it’d be a shame. Some might say unlucky.
But hey, that’s the nature of this game.
Let’s hope Lady Luck smiles over B6 the rest of the way.