A surprising FA Cup weekend, with Bradford and Middlesbrough knocking top dogs Chelsea and Manchester City out of the cup, was perhaps a reminder to all Villa fans what to expect when the FA Cup came to B6 on Sunday.
Although the Villans were playing Championship favourites Bournemouth at home, there was still a sense that it wasn’t going to be an easy game for the boys, especially taking into consideration what we witnessed against Blackpool, when we scraped a win at the death.
However, it was what happened before the game that was the focal point yesterday afternoon. After seeing Delph was missing from the team, not even taking up a place on the bench, many Villa fans speculated as to whether or not he had played his last game in claret and blue. However, this thought couldn’t have been more wrong.
Ten minutes before kick off, the big screens displayed the message that Delph had signed a new four-and-a-half year contract that will keep him at B6 until 2019. The exact details of the contract, other than its length, are unclear. This was obviously a huge surprise, as well as a positive point in the season. The cheer from the crowd drowned out the video message Delph had recorded.
In his message, Delph, who had been linked with moves to Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur, spoke of loyalty:
“It’s been a roller-coaster ride since I’ve been here – I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.
The fans have stuck by me since day one. The chairman’s stuck by me, he’s been unbelievable with me. The gaffer’s been great as well. I’m proving that there still is loyalty in football. I’ve decided to stay here and I’ll give nothing less than 100 per cent every game.
I’d love you guys to get behind us and support the boys.
I am a loyal person and committing my future will hopefully show everybody what type of guy I am… There was no way I was going to bail out. I am here for the long run.”
I am not sure what persuaded him to put pen to paper. All I know is that Paul Lambert and Tom Fox have done an extraordinary job in keeping him at our club. I have to admit that I am the first to criticise our manager when we lose a game but he deserves credit for this. We lack creativity as it is; imagine what life would be like if Delph left.
Listening to what he says, it is pleasing to hear that a player values our loyalty and actually remembers the time when he was an injury-prone outcast. It is good to see this in a player nowadays, especially with the situation that the club is in.
To me, securing Delph’s signature was more important than tying Vlaar down. If Vlaar wasn’t injured, I would unload him in this transfer window instead of seeing him leaving for free in the summer. We have a ready-made replacement for Vlaar and when you saw the passion that Clark played with yesterday while wearing that captain’s armband it looked like he was trying to prove a point.
Who knows what the rest of the season holds? Nevertheless, this bleak, winter’s Sunday can be remembered for all the right reasons.