It’s one of those games. You remember them; when the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea, Spurs and both Manchester clubs came to Villa Park. Optimism runs free through your veins, coursing through your body, making your heart pump. Your head is killing you, softly whispering, “Win? Are you mad? What in the name of all that is holy makes you think we’ll win?”
It was the same when we went to theirs. I didn’t expect us to win but was optimistic about doing so. Until last season that is and then, as more games passed, you expected to lose. Sure, we took a point of City at B6, but we lost the rest. Home and away.
I’ve got the same feeling about tonight. Without the optimism.
I don’t want us to lose and couldn’t envisage a scenario where I think I would want us to. But I don’t think we’ll win, either. Nor do I think we’ll get a point. In fact, as you have rightly surmised, this is three points going a-begging.
See, Villa, that’s what you’ve done to me. I’ve wracked my brains, worked all the permutations and still think we’re going to lose. Ninety or so minutes of my life I won’t get back tonight.
Recent form is behind it all. We haven’t won since Noah was a child and desperately need the points. Steve Bruce is confident that we’ll turn it around soon. Ish. Maybe.
We need to; seventeenth is where he came in. At least we haven’t got worse but most expected it to be a lot better. There’s been a cause for optimism at times; it hasn’t been all doom and gloom but when you’re left longing for 5 consecutive draws, something’s very wrong.
Ipswich hit us with a sucker punch but Barnsley left us with no doubts about the magnitude of the task in hand. I’m sure that, for all the advice he’s receiving, Dr Xia isn’t about to terminate Bruce. Like Arnie, Steve will be back next season as well. Unless we go down.
But pre-season optimism of at least being in the shake-up or on the edges of it, have proven woefully wrong. Ian Holloway took flak from the owner for his prediction of 16th. Holloway, in proclaiming that, was subjected to an emotional outpouring from Tone, about failure. If we finish 16th or lower…
Which ought to be the spur the management need. I’ve given up trying to work out what motivates the players because it sure as Hell isn’t the claret and blue. What we need is some tub-thumping pride; a captain who when you cut him, has claret blood pouring out of his veins.
This is the St James Park, the home of the Championship favourites that we’re heading off to. No-one gives us a chance; this is a Villa side which has lost at Cardiff, Wolves, Brentford, and Forest. What possible harm can we do to the Magpies? A bit of pride goes a long way. A bit of belief when there’s no reason for it, a chunk of the supporter’s mindset will take you on a journey you’ll never forget.
What’s this? A strange feeling has come over me. It’s closer to kick-off that normal but I’m thinking of a point, and secretly hoping for three. It’s match day and hang it all, that cursed optimism has returned…