Last week I wrote a piece on the unexpectedness at Villa (Link) with Lambert’s new transfer policy and the new club direction. This week I want to focus on something a little different. I want to start with a reference to a year ago:
Paul Lambert had just arrived, there was a sense of optimism surrounding Villa Park. However, there were a minority who were not happy with some of the signings Lambert was making. Lower league and unproven; not usually the attributes that have been associated with success and certainly not with the players coming into Aston Villa in the past. After a few months, those doubters started to raise their eyebrows. Around the time Villa beat Liverpool 1-3 in some style at Anfield people starting to think: “maybe PL has done something special here”. BUT…and there has always seemed to be a but at Aston Villa, it would all change come a trip to Stanford Bridge in December. Villa were beaten 8-0, followed by 4-0, followed by 3-0 to Wigan and then our impressive cup run was ended by league 2 team Bradford City. Those in the minority that criticised the inexperience of Lambert’s signings in the summer started to rear their heads again, joined by some of the majority that once had faith in our new “messiah”. Things looked bleak, admittedly I too had doubts that we would stay up. If Lambert were to pull off the unthinkable and stay in the premier league WITH his new philosophy intact then it would certainly be a masterstroke to behold. On the other hand, if we were to get relegated, then we would make history; the day Aston Villa football club got relegated from the Premier League. Low and behold, a few months later, when it looked as if we would have to achieve more points than we had achieved for most of the season merely to survive, we started to pick up points. We not only started to achieve a better run in the league, but our young players started to come together, to fight as a team and to look something quite special. Suddenly it was the doubting minority that were starting to join the hopeful majority, people started to see Lambert’s philosophy, but not only that, they started to buy into it.
This summer has started with a great sense of optimism, we are waiting to have the last laugh over fans of many other teams who made a joke of us, many who had already written us off and condemned us to the Championship. It is June and we look to have almost completed our 4th and 5th signing of the summer, unknown cheap players from leagues a lot worse than the Premier League, only this summer…we believe. We have looked at signings such as Christian Benteke, Yacouba Sylla, Matt Lowton and Ashley Westwood and now we believe that Lambert really does have an eye for a player. There are now many who believe we will see a totally different Aston Villa in the Premier League next season, perhaps an Aston Villa who can rocket themselves back into the top half of the table, and in style. I don’t know about you but my mind for the last 2 weeks has been absorbed with Aston Villa, I believe too, but I have also had to keep myself in check, why? because of what happened last season and too much optimism and expectation can quickly lead to the other extreme.
It wasn’t until the end of the season and a spell before christmas that we saw the real potential of our new side. Im certainly not trying to burst anyone’s bubble, mine is still intact, I merely want to heed warning. This is a young side with bags of potential, but it is by no means the finished article. The likeliness is that we will probably have a bad spell at some stage in the season, we may even start poorly, but don’t be so quick to judge like we all were at some points last season. These players are new to the Premier League and will take some time to settle in, some of them may not even make it, but we are taking low cost risks nowadays, so it doesn’t matter so much. We have a fantastic manager and I’m sure most of you are with me in thinking it. What this squad needs is support and patience, we need to encourage our players on Twitter and in games, not bemoan them when they play poorly. Paul Lambert has made it his business to sign players who want to play for Aston Villa and work hard for us. Gone are the days of players who are with us to merely pick up their pay checks, we now have a squad of ambitious players with potential, they just need patience. We are entering into a long term project, and even regarding Christian Benteke, I suspect he will stay for another season but if he doesn’t and we get at least 30mil for him, lets not be quick to criticise the club, there is now a bigger picture, and a few years down the line there may be a stage where we can reject huge bids for our best players, but it will take time to get there.
We are officially a club under refurbishment. There will be ups and downs, hopefully mainly ups, but there WILL be downs, and in those times we need to remember the bigger picture and remember how PL proved the doubters wrong once before. Now all that is left to say is: Sit back and enjoy the ride! In the season to come I believe other clubs are going to sit up and take note, because Aston Villa are on their way back! UTV
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