Everyone has had their say on Wesley. Stats sites held up a graph and pointed. Ex-pros criticised his game. Fans doubted his influence. The carousel of scapegoats and the focal point of criticism lands on every player, at some point, and the last few weeks have been Wesley’s turn, unfairly riding that plastic horse around.
For now, the criticism had died down - and rightly so. Wesley is off the mark for Aston Villa and in some style. His careening run, darting between Yerry Mina and Micheal Keane to grasp onto a Jota pass, was the sign of a true intelligence, bellowed by the flames of personal desire. Nothing was going to pass him by, and certainly not an easy chance to tell everyone else to f**k off with his first goal in Claret and Blue.
As much as it was Everton’s mistake to allow gulfs in the defence for Villa’s very own el Nino to pass through, Wesley ran like the wind, as though he was the calm in the storm, to breeze past Keane and Mina and blow Jordan Pickford’s house down with a neat finish. If Wesley and Jota don’t combine with simple movements - and simple passes - the mistake isn’t truly a mistake because nothing actually happens. When the simple is executed well, it looks like art - and even better, it looks like a thought-out plan. A incisive strike, with a run-in from deep, has put Wesley back on the map.
The criticism wasn’t unwarranted, but as Tyrone Mings noted after the game - as strong as Wesley is, he’s going to read and take in the bad and the good of social media. Rightly or wrongly, this stuff will have an impact on him. Truthfully, being right is overrated, and being wrong isn’t bad. Sometimes rights turn into wrongs and wrongs turn into rights. Decisive decisions about players don’t always turn out correct. That’s ok. What’s not ok, is to write people off before they have gotten started - and not many have went as far to do that, but there will be a minor portion of humble pie to be served up. Wesley can capitalise on errors, execute the simple moves, and score in the Premier League - and that’s a lot more than most expected.
Wesley’s hold-up play stunted Everton and allowed Villa room to breathe. Villa launched it to him on a number of occasions to gather a break at the back, and it worked. The striker was an anchor, planted into the centre-field.
Apart from the explosive strike, there was also his demeanour. Consistent snapping at defenders, lurking on the neck at corners, looking to elbow and tussle through people. When a Villa player was fouled, Wesley was there - executing sprints to involve himself in disputes he probably couldn’t understand. He has a danger in him, a mean streak - but one that is rooted in positivity. Wesley hasn’t enjoyed a easy life in football, and an easy life in general. People have always doubted him and mocked him. Snobbery exists, and it’s usually beckoned by a graph without context. Wesley sees that. Wesley knows that. The mean streak exists in this striker because he is sick and tired of others telling him what he can’t do.
Wesley will show you exactly what he can do, with time. There’s still a long way to the top for the striker and pathways to the top aren’t always defined by a straight line, expect a gloriously rocky trajectory to the pinnacle. Wesley is human too, but sometimes - sometimes - he, like every other Villa can seem superhuman.
Superman has his doubters, too.