When I heard this morning that Gabby Agbonlahor had been suspended, I wasn't sure exactly how to feel. Was I okay with it because Gabby has been an utter trash player lately? Or was I irritated because Aston Villa were suspending a player for doing something on his time off? And I finally came to a conclusion: I'm pissed off at everyone involved in this. I thought about writing an angry post right then and there, but I had to go teach. So I've had a few hours to cool off.
And I'm still writing this post. Because in all of this, literally nobody comes out looking good. The only thing to come from Aston Villa suspending Gabby is a reinforcement of the image that our club is an absolute tire-fire (tyre-fyre?) right now. Let's break this down.
It's time for a little confession. One that I'm sure long-time readers have already guessed: I really don't like Gabby Agbonlahor. He's not been a worthwhile footballer since I began following this team in 2010. He's, in fact, utterly dire on the pitch and only getting worse. It used to be that his best asset was his incredible speed. But then he lost control of that speed and would just sprint with the ball right past the goal line. And now he doesn't even have that. It's so abundantly clear that he's lost a step. And when you combine that with an uncanny ability to not finish, no defensive acumen, and passing skills that would struggle to move a shaker of salt one person down the table, you've got one of the worst players on an already terrible squad.
I can handle bad footballers, though. I thought that Stiliyan Petrov was mostly rubbish on the pitch in his final season or so and yet there are few Villa players I love as much as Stan. Matthew Lowton could do no wrong in my book despite the fact that, in reality, he could do little right. I'm a fan, I'm unnaturally illogical when it comes to who I like and dislike.
But Gabby isn't even all that likable. Yes he grew up in the area, and he's been a lifelong Villa fan. But where do we see that? That passion certainly isn't reflected in his on-the-pitch performance. And his troglodytic ramblings on social media make him come across as little more than a petulant child. He does good work with Acorns, for which he should be commended, but a few good things here and there are not enough to outweigh an overwhelming mountain of evidence that he's an absolutely cancerous human being.
So if you think I'm rooting for the ostentatious goon who lives a lifestyle that I can't even begin to identify with, you're crazy. If he's wearing claret and blue and on the pitch yes, I want him to do well. Otherwise, I'd just like to avoid hearing about him.
And yet, here I am defending him. Since Aston Villa are being their usual tight-lipped selves, we're left with only media speculation about why Gabby has been suspended. And universally, the speculation is that it's because we have pictures of Gabby smoking shisha in Dubai. Over the international break. You see, for as little as I like Gabby, he's still a human being. One entitled to time off. One entitled to enjoy his leisure outside of work. One who is a bad piece of a bad company right now, but one who still gets to have basic courtesy extended to him.
Shisha is not illegal. It's tobacco. It's probably not a great thing for a footballer to be using, but heavens knows Gabby is hardly the only footballer to be using it. He was out having fun. Doing things that you and I can never dream of doing, and looking like a preening ass in so many pictures, but again: those are choices that are his own.
So why do Aston Villa suddenly feel the need to suspend him? If it's because he's rubbish on the pitch: simply don't choose him. If it's because he's supposed to be a role model and there's something in his contract to that effect: say so. If it's because the club is just an absolute shambles right now and couldn't pour water out of a boot with instructions on the heel: do what you did.
Oh, I see they selected option three. Great. What a right bunch of idiots we've got in charge. Gabby out partying had pissed plenty of fans off (including our own level-headed James), so that was PR issue number one. You've now invented PR issue number two: suspending players just for the sake of it and with neither rhyme nor reason.
You know who does come out of this looking okay? Eric Black. In his comments ahead of tomorrow's clash with Chelsea, Black had this to say about Agbonlahor's absence:
"We will deal with it in the right manner and again, we will focus on what it's about - playing football... I want to focus on football so I have removed Gabby from the squad for Saturday. I think it's doesn't need to be about Gabby Agbonlahor. It needs to be about the 18 players representing Aston Villa on Saturday."
Bless you, Eric Black. I know almost nothing about you, and yet I feel so comfortable with you in charge already. You've got the club stabbing itself in the eyes with Gabby-shaped scissors and you're able to focus on the one thing that actually matters to the forty-seven of us who still care: football.
But as for the rest of this club, please just disappear. Just until mid-May. I don't want to deal with you, and it's pretty clear that you feel the same way. I'm tired of being pissed off, and each day I figure is the day I stop caring. But no. You find a new way to piss me off with every new sunrise. Stop it, please. I'm begging you.