The trajectory of Aston Villa as of the last couple years has lead to some disappointing, occasionally sad moments. Whatever you think of Delph now, I think the way everything played out last week was sad. It shouldn't have ended like that. Anyway, lets talk about Villa sadness.
Q: The last couple weeks have been a weird, disappointing couple of weeks for Aston Villa, so lets add to it. What Aston Villa moment has made you the most sad?
It came when we found out why Nicklas Helenius had struggled so much in his time at Aston Villa: severe depression. It's a problem that is all too common in football, and it was heartbreaking to see it happen to a player who I wanted so badly to love. It seems, by all accounts, that his return to Denmark has done him well, so I'm glad to hear that, but the fact remains: the way mental health is handled in football is deplorable, and it can lead to some horrible results. Nothing has been sadder than seeing that happen to Helenius.
Just the realization that we're (finally?) losing Christian Benteke. He's saved us countless times, and even if we get paid a ton of cash and spend it smartly on good players, the likelihood of filling his boots is slim to none. I couldn't be arsed about Fabian Delph or Ron Vlaar since I thought we were losing them in January. Without a reliable striking option, Tim Sherwood's side could be in trouble.
For me, and I'm sure for others, there isn't a question - it has to be Fabian Delph's decision. To lose hope from the initial reports of his, to feel the emotional bliss of hearing he is staying, then only to learn that he is leaving again, is not something a football fan should have to experience. It's like getting a kid's hopes up only for them to be smashed - it's better to not get his hopes up in the first place, which is what I wish Fabian would have done by either leaving the first time, or not issuing that false statement. It's one of the most saddening moments I've experienced in sport, and I'm sure it won't be topped any time soon.
So mine isn't anything dealing with a player; I've realized players come and go so I try not to get too upset about it even though it's hard sometimes. But the one match that has always stood out in my head, haunting and lingering with me was on March 1, 2009. Aston Villa 2-2 Stoke City. Villa were fourth in the league and a win would've moved them level with second and eight points clear of Arsenal for a Champions League berth. Stiliyan Petrov and John Carew scored fine goals to make it 2-0 over then-newly promoted Stoke, Villa Park was rocking and Aston Villa seemed destined to return to Europe's elite. But Stoke scored two late stupid goals, including a ridiculous 20-yard stoppage time volley by Glen Whelan off all people, and Villa dropped two points -- and more importantly, all of the momentum it had. In the following weeks, Villa collapsed and Arsenal surged, and the claret and blues eventually settled for sixth in the league again after a title run seemed more likely in February. And since then Villa have been closer to the Championship than the Champions League.
In my mind, Aston Villa have been in an almost constant downward spiral since that match against Stoke in March 2009. F*ckin' Stoke.
Judas leaving. I think it's hit me even harder than watching my team crumble pathetically at Wembley. Thinking about it more I'm even more sad because I think he'll be a real success at City, meaning everyone except Villa fans will forget the total betrayal. We've had years of disappointment but even in that context we've been hit pretty damn hard the last few weeks. The way we handle the loss of Judas and Benteke will define us. Do we continue on our shameful downward spiral, or do we get serious and drag ourselves up the table?
The Delph saga has been the worst I've felt in a while but I think it's tempered by some really interesting transfer ideas. So it's hard to say this is the lowest point because I think the manager has the drive not to let them be the Villa we've seen since O'Neill left. Honestly during the Hull match last season before we knew Lambert's fate - THAT was worse because it truly felt like we couldn't avoid it any longer.
I kind of can't wait to see who else Sherwood brings in and he's never afraid to give youth a chance. So I'm still sort of excited even though it's hard to see where the goals are coming from right now.
I have faith in Tim. Until I don't.
I don't know. Is it weird that I'm not disappointed or sad?
To answer the question, it's probably gotta be the FA Cup Final. The biggest game in 15 years for the club, with all the build-up, and they don't even come close to the Arsenal goal. Runner-up for me is probably that loss to Bolton late in the season under McLeish; it's the first time I genuinely thought Villa would go down. How they haven't yet is beyond me.
#delphgate didn't make me sad. It made me feel a lot of other, more... heated emotions, shall we say, but not sad. I think the saddest moment would have to be Stiliyan Petrov's career being cut short by leukemia. Now, who knows how much longer his playing days would have lasted, but he was such an important figure for Villa both on and off the pitch - his absence was certainly felt on the field and in the locker-room. At the same time, however, Petrov's successful battle against cancer would lead to some great things: the 19th minute applause which always gave me goosebumps, Petrov's cancer research foundation, and just such a great feeling shared by all when he was able to overcome his illness. It was great when Sherwood brough Petrov back to the club in an assistant role earlier this year, he's exactly the kind of role model you want the players looking up to.
I'm with Robert. There's a lot of things that have upset me about Villa, but sadness is a whole other level of emotion. Delph upset me, Carew leaving upset me, not buying Will Hughes is upsetting me. Nicklas Helenius' dark depression made me sad. No bones about it, it's possible that he could have took his own life whilst on the Villa bench. If racism is handled badly in Football, mental health is handled like a ball in Peter Encklemen's gloves. People laughed for years at Gazza's antics, Julian Fashanu was hounded into a noose and Robert Enke still haunts the goalposts of Germany. It's not on, and I still have my doubts about how it was all handled. Villa did the best thing by releasing him, but I'm not certain this situation should have happened in the first place.
As much as the FA Cup Final got me down, nothing ever got me as sad as the Chelsea match after the announcement that Petrov had leukemia. That was upsetting enough, as Rory touched on earlier, but then the Chelsea match following that was just a tornado of events that really made me sad. Villa fell behind 2-0, but came back to tie the game in the 80th minute. However, three minutes later Ivanovic scored, and Chelsea would add another in injury time to seal the win. It's not so much that Villa lost, as I've learned to handle that. It was the combination of Petrov's announcement, completing this emotional comeback and then having it ripped away. It caused me to tweet this:
After most Villa matches I'm angry. Today I'm just depressed. I'm gonna go have a 3 hour shower and cry.— Carles Trill (@MattF15) March 31, 2012
Years later, Petrov's health has improved. Villa have had ups and downs since then. Villa have had worse results since then. But I'm not sure anything will hit me like that match did.
If you're not crying, we want to hear from you. What Villa moment made you the most sad?