It is fair to say that Ashley Westwood is not everybody’s cup of tea. Some loathe him whilst others admire his coolness and composure on the ball. Although it is fine to dislike him as a footballer, it is in no way acceptable to boo him as he enters the field of play. The boos last Saturday came as a big surprise to many Villa fans and I must mention that it was only a minority that heckled him. Yet, booing a player who hadn’t even touched the ball is disrespectful and inexcusable.
Ashley Westwood came to Aston Villa as a relatively inexperienced twenty-two-year-old from Crewe Alexandra in 2012. He was brought in as part of Paul Lambert’s cost-cutting experiment. His Villa career has been marred by the team’s struggling performances on the pitch. He was thrown straight in at the deep end as the Villans battled against relegation for four consecutive seasons. Finally succumbing to our fate, he was part of the team that got relegated at Old Trafford on April 16th 2016; an infamous date in Aston Villa Football Club’s history.
It was one of the worst days ever if you’re an Aston Villa fan, yet Westwood was the only player who clearly showed any emotion as he could not hold back the tears. Compare this to a certain Gabby Agbonlahor, who was subsequently partying in London that night. Nevertheless, Agbonlahor was cheered onto the pitch against Blackburn Rovers whilst Westwood was treated to a chorus of boos.
Personally, I am not the biggest fan of Westwood’s footballing ability. I feel he is too lethargic on the ball and he slows down Villa’s play as he passes sideways and backwards monotonously. In addition, as a defensive midfielder, Westwood is not strong enough to win the ball back. On many occasions, he has backed out of tackles and allowed the opposition a clear run at our defence. Luckily, we have Mile Jedinak, who wins the ball back superbly and has been mightily impressive in recent weeks.
Westwood is very much a confidence player. His best performances in an Aston Villa jersey came under Tim Sherwood as we reached the FA Cup final. His performance against Liverpool in the semi-final was a key part of our triumph that day. Although he didn’t receive all the plaudits, he controlled the game and was a decisive factor in the team’s success. It seems that when the team is playing well, Westwood performs best therefore booing him is the polar opposite of what he needs right now.
It is likely that Westwood will start in our next game, which is set to be one of our toughest games of the season, away from home against Brighton and Hove Albion. Steve Bruce has confirmed that Jedinak will not feature due to his international commitments. Thus, if Westwood is to play, I urge all Villa fans to get behind him, and the whole team.