For 16 minutes, Aston Villa looked like a side that belongs in the Premier League. Playing away against a good West Ham side, Villa controlled possession in the opening exchanges, and looked by far the most likely team to make something happen. A good result here, and another against Norwich this coming Saturday, and Villa were back in the fight.
Then on 17 minutes, Jordan Ayew got himself sent off.
Now, the purpose of this piece is to compare the two Aston Villa vs West Ham fixtures against each other, with no wider context to anything off of the field, or even based on league positions. So, with that in mind, Jordan Ayew messed up. And it cost Villa points, momentum and in all likelihood, their status as a Premier League team.
Down to ten men, Villa were dominated for the remainder of the game, and though West Ham won 2-0, it could oh so easily have been worse. And yet, I can't really find myself staying mad at Jordan Ayew.
In a pretty dismal season, Jordan Ayew has been one of the only rays of sunlight for Villa. Goals against Newcastle and West Ham in December meant that Villa went into last nights game with a chance, a glimmer of hope. True, Ayew's stupidity killed the dream, but he played a large part in us as fans having any hope at this point.
And here's the thing, Jordan Ayew knows it himself that he messed up. And he's manned up and said sorry, and I respect him for that. Footballers are generally isolated from the rest of us, so Ayew could quite easily have moved on, and not said anything, but he chose not to. You can question his actions yes, but this shows that he is at least committed to the cause, however doomed it may now be.
You can't explain the actions that led to Jordan Ayew swinging an elbow into Aaron Cresswell's face, but you can understand that Jordan Ayew is likely pretty frustrated with all that's going on right now.
It's not just the off the field turmoil either, it seems as though nothing is going right for Aston Villa right now. Three stonewall penalties not given in three games and dubious work permit rulings will have an impact on the players' minds, before you even begin to account for the fans' dissent at the players and the board. It's an ugly situation to be in, but we have to face up to the fact that this IS the situation we are in now.
There's been calls to freeze Ayew out of the team, or even to sell him, but that's pretty stupid in my opinion. Yes, he'll be out for the next three games at least, that's unavoidable. But Libor Kozak and Rudy Gestede are injured, and Gabby isn't fully fit. Playing the youth players constantly could damage them in the long term, so when he can play, Jordan Ayew SHOULD play. And Aston Villa NEED Jordan Ayew to play.
The reality of the situation that Aston Villa are in is far from pretty. But Jordan Ayew has become one of our own, so not only should we give him our backing, we need to give him our backing. Else a bad situation could get a whole lot worse.