The name ‘Delph’ should be banished from every Aston Villa supporter’s vocabulary, after the former captain let himself and the club down.
As fans, we offer wholehearted, unwavering support to the club that we love but we cannot demand this of our players. We can certainly look for it, hope for it even, but, sadly, we cannot insist on it. We all bemoan the cliché that contracts are not worth the paper they are written on yet ignore the fact that in most other professions you could give your employer notice a month in advance and waltz off into the sunset. The days of professional footballers seeing out their contracts, no matter what happens, are long gone and, as we have seen with our former captain, it is perhaps the manner of leaving that is more important now than the actual departure. Football has evolved, not always in ways we wanted, and we have to accept that there is a greater turnover of staff at Aston Villa Football Club now than in the past.
Understandably bitter about Delph’s disrespectful departure, some fans are still mentioning the midfielder on a day-to-day basis. However, as a club, we need to move on: he may be a villain but he’s no longer a Villan and therefore does not deserve so much of fans’ attention.
Supporters need to appreciate the players we have, particularly those who have shown loyalty.
On Saturday, despite being side-lined due to injury, Jores Okore made his presence known in Walsall, where he was happy to sit with the Villa faithful and have pictures taken with the claret and blue away contingent.
The Danish defender also showed dedication to the cause last season, playing with a niggling injury. He played his part when the team was struggling, especially in defensive areas, stepping up and playing through the pain. This needs to praised. In some games he did look sluggish but that was down to his injury. This has forced the former Nordsjaelland player to have surgery, which will keep him out of action until at least September.
Sherwood hailed the resilience of Jores Okore in an interview last season, saying:
“He is a warrior who just wants to play for the club. His performances, particularly with this injury considered, have been excellent. If I want anyone to be in the trenches with me it would be him.”
Another player who has shown great loyalty to the club is Gabriel Agbonlahor. Earlier in his career, he could made a £15 million move to Arsenal, whose staff were sniffing around the then England Under-21 hopeful. However, Agbonlahor quashed those rumours of a move, insisting he was keen to stay with his hometown club.
While Agbonlahor hasn’t lived up to the potential that fans once saw in him, he still has a knack for scoring important goals in important games. In local derbies, you are likely to see Agbonlahor’s name on the scoresheet and Villa supporters will remember Agbonlahor’s late header against Birmingham City fondly.
Loyalty in football is as rare as hen’s teeth – and that is probably the case for both parties. Too often, we see football clubs deciding to release youth players or first team players wanting to ‘better’ themselves and signing lucrative contracts with ‘bigger’ clubs. Supporters must acknowledge and appreciate players’ actions while they have the chance to.