It’s hard to think back to specific weekends last season and remember how, as fans, we were feeling.
I honestly couldn’t remember my attitude towards Villa after fifteen games: the whole season seemed to be tinged with disappointment, so I naturally assumed, as we are on a five game unbeaten run and have just strung two hard fought victories together, we would be feeling a lot better this year.
However, when I look at the table and compare it to last year’s from the same period, I see that we hold exactly the same league position, have scored fewer goals and conceded more.
This is not me suggesting that we need to stop being so positive after a run of decent form – quite the opposite. I actually feel better this year. I would be interested to know if other Villa fans share my susceptibility to optimistic swings. Between games, although I often say I think we will lose, a part of me sneakily reckons we could get some points whereas the minute we start playing I get so nervous and believe everything that could go wrong will. This is not healthy and productive but it’s just the way I deal with the nerves.
This time, I am going to try and be a bit more vocally optimistic before the Albion game tomorrow afternoon. Looking at the two tables, while we are marginally worse off than a year ago, there didn’t seem, at any time last season, to be a period of calm. I felt, and I accept I may need some correcting as my memory isn’t always the best, that every match was turning into a “must win” game – in the desperate “We’ll get relegated!” way. I know every game is a must win really – and we were regularly not winning them. We had to rely on some really fluky results against the likes of Chelsea, City and Southampton.
Since the shocking run this season, and it was shocking, the Villa boys have started to look like a team again, and a team that can hold its own in this league. We held firm against a rampant West Ham, we were unlucky to only get a point against Southampton, we just weren’t quite ruthless enough against Burnley and we were just that against Palace and Leicester, although I would, of course, prefer slightly more comfortable victories in the future. Right now, I’ll take anything.
In short, I feel much more positive now than I did at any point last season. We have strung some decent results together and are starting to recover after the shellshock of Arsenal, Chelsea and City, from which we were still reeling for Everton, QPR and Spurs. We have a good goalkeeper, a solid back four who look like they are enjoying playing and who are showing some passion, a solid if unglamorous midfield and a match winner up front. We must not get carried away but I think, and hope, even though the table currently suggests otherwise, we are in for a better season this year and we should be aiming for nothing less than a top half finish, however optimistic that is. UTV!