These past seven days have been an emotional roller-coaster for the Villa faithful with the pure excitement at seeing the team finally win at home giving way to the shocking news of tragic passing of a claret and blue hero.
At last, for the first time in years, there is a real sense of excitement, accompanied by an air of optimism, surrounding Villa Park.
We won a game! Yes, you did read that correctly! For the first time since February, the Villans won a competitive football match! Last weekend we saw the Villans at home to Rotherham United in the first fixture at Villa Park of the new Championship season. It ended in an emphatic win for the Villans. Not only did they win, they won convincingly. The players actually played as a team: they appeared to be playing for one another and showed a real togetherness. Prior to last Saturday, it had been far too long since I last walked away from Villa Park feeling victorious. In fact, it had been so long that I had almost forgotten what it felt like. It was nice to become reacquainted with that feeling.
Following the side’s victory on Saturday, Di Matteo’s men then took on tougher opponents on Tuesday night. Given the assured win against the Millers, many thought the Villa boys might be able to secure back-to-back wins but, unfortunately, it wasn’t to be. With the Terriers snatching a bizarre equaliser right at the death, we had to settle for a draw. Nevertheless, the draw meant that the team remains unbeaten at home this season and we have had back-to-back games in which we haven’t been beaten, something that eluded us recently.
Seeing the Villans playing so well and so confidently has helped to create an incredible atmosphere at Villa Park for the club’s two home games to date. It has been some time since the Holte End was packed out and in full swing but this week it was rocking. Tuesday night’s fixture had an incredible feel to it thanks to the noise from the Villa supporters. With the Terriers’ supporters doing their best to make themselves heard as well, the stadium was bouncing for the duration of the game.
Yet another addition has been made to the squad, as Mile Jedinak was signed from Crystal Palace. A great addition to the side, in my opinion, he strengthens a desperately stretched midfield. Jedinak’s arrival means the team finally has the enforcer in the centre of the park it has needed for so long and the Villans may actually win possession before the opposition enter the final third.
The rarely-seen Adama Traoré featured in the game against Rotherham United. Many fans had been wondering what had happened to the pacey winger, who was not seen during pre-season, but I’m sure they had smiles on their faces when he made a cameo appearance in the game against the Millers.
Speaking of Adama Traoré, he is unhappy at Aston Villa and has expressed his desire to leave the club. I’m not sure if this is a bad idea but I wouldn’t say it’s good so I’m just going to slot it in here.
As I sipped my morning coffee on Thursday, I read that he’d asked to leave the club. My initial response was indifference – and I still feel that way. Even though I believe he’s an incredible talent with a lot of unlocked potential, he’s far from the finished article. I don’t think Traoré would be a big loss since he’s hardly featured in the year he’s been over here; he can’t stay off the treatment table for more than two games in a row. If he doesn’t want to grind and work for the side to ensure the Villa boys jump back up this year then he knows where the door is.
While I’m on the topic of departures, I need to mention Joleon Lescott. Yesterday, Lescott turned down a move to Rangers, which leaves Villa fans wondering what we’ve got to do to get rid of him. I would have thought he would have enjoyed the drive to Scotland in the comfort of his flashy new car! I suppose all we can do now is wait and hope that another club shows an interest in the defender.
Sadly, this week saw Aston Villa lose an icon. Dalian Atkinson was a man who was a hero to many and a true Villan. His tragic death was a shock to everyone. A fitting tribute was paid to Atkinson at the home game on Tuesday as we remembered a man who brought proud moments to the club we love and provided us with many happy memories. Rest in peace, Dalian.
There are two more games in store for us in the week ahead: we have a tough trip to Derby this evening followed by a trip to Bristol next Saturday. Hopefully, we’ll see our little unbeaten run stretched further and gain what could prove to be precious points come the end of the season. We might even see the back of Joleon Lescott too, if we’re lucky.