It’s been tough to be a Villa fan recently, in both the short, and long term.
This season, it’s fully acceptable to argue that we have been the worst Premier League side ever. We may have accumulated more points that Derby, but when comparing where we came from, how much we spent and so on, it does not tilt in our favour.
In recent years, we’ve been just scraping by so often that to some this eventual slip and fall was inevitable. We’ve stunk out the league for years, we’ve been the embarrassing stain on the boxers of the Premier League for too long, this relegation is only fair.
Worst of all, it goes back further than that. Ignore the relative blip of the Martin O’Neil years and what do we have? A generation of below average mediocrity. We last won a (real, the Intertoto cup does not count) trophy in 1996. That’s twenty years ago now. An entire generation of Aston Villa fans will not remember seeing their club lift a trophy.
“I’m desperate you know, I’ve never seen it happen. The last time we won anything was the year I was born. I don’t care what it is, I just want to see us lift something at the end of the season, even if it was the Championship trophy. It'd be something, right?”
As such, it’s so understandable that the events of Wednesday onwards have been greeted with such hysteria. That desperate, clawing hope that we can be returned to our rightful place.
But is it good news?
Right now, it’s so hard to tell. There are question marks, that much is clear. James Rushton discussed on this site how much of an unknown Dr Xia Jiantong is, and that is a fair reason to be concerned. As are the revelations in the Financial Times on friday, suggesting that the official club statement was in fact misinforming the fans in relation to The Recon Group’s ownership of several companies, although a Recon Group employee did attempt to issue a clarification, suggesting that this was in the process of occurring and it was put down to miscommunication between Recon and the club press office.
Nonetheless, worrying. Further, it is somewhat pertinent that the club announced the prospective takeover before either the Premier League or Football League fit and proper ownership tests have been completed. As Mat Kendrick writes, these tests must be not just a fit and proper persons test, but a “fit and proper test” itself. Nothing short of the fate of one of England’s most grand and oldest of football clubs is on the line.
It is though, also fine to be caught up on a wave of optimism. The club has been choked up in this miasma of bad press, bad news and bad football for so long that even the slightest of silver linings have been seized upon and grasped with craving hands. The fierceness with which the new chairman has been defended, and the vitriol poured upon those who are somewhat more sceptical of him and his company is not fine though.
This is not China. We live in free countries, where criticism, debate and free speech are enshrined in law. If someone disagrees with you, go ahead, argue with them, prove them wrong, be it with rhetoric, facts, data, whatever.
But don’t try and silence them. Don’t insult them. If you can’t convince them, if they can’t convince you, if no middle ground can be reached, just agree to disagree. You don’t need the final word, they don’t need to call you character into question. We’re not children.
And after all, it’s only football, right?
We all hope and pray that when we see quotes, such as this, from Dr. Xia’s interview with the Guardian
“Forget the past and think we are going to enter a new age”
That they will come to fruition. We all want what’s best for our football club. We want to see us competing once again at the very highest of levels. We want to be arguing over which of our two 30-goal-a-season strikers we should be playing. We don’t criticise because we hate the club, because we’re Blues fans or whatever, it’s just some see support as more than just mere blind faith, not that there’s anything wrong with that.
After all, with how our club has suffered, how we’ve degenerated into a laughing stock, a weekly “article” in the ladbible bantering about our latest cock up, it’s right that we can so desperately want just a tiny bit of good news, just for once.
You can do this, can’t you boys? After everything we’ve done for you? Just a wee bit back?
Up the Villa