I submitted what follows on Friday of last week and Damian didn’t have a chance to put it up before the match on Sunday and he emailed me today to ask if I wanted to change anything because of the results.
Except to say that I enjoyed the tie immensely and was thrilled at the commitment and spirit the team displayed, the answer is probably “no”. The sentiments I hold now are the ones I had when I wrote the piece and I was concerned at the negativity that has started to pervade everything; people splitting into O’Neill pro and anti camps.
Which camp? The only camp I’m in is the Churchill camp. The only camp Sid’s in is the SidCowanslovechild camp. Same for Nan, same for ak, same for JPA. Same for everyone who posts here. No one position or opinion perfectly matches another.
The worst period in O’Neill’s reign was the collapse at the end of the season. We all got the jitters. Some of that negativity persists and I don’t think it’s warranted. Don’t get me wrong, after the Liverpool match I was gutted. I didn’t trust myself to post on the blog without being bitter and twisted, so I stayed away for a few days. If it’s as painful for anyone else, sorry to bring it up.
We’re in a good place. If we’re in a good place then Spur’s must be a better one. Read this lead article. It’s a Spurs blog.
If the Liverpool match was a nail in the coffin of our Champions league aspirations and the injury time draw against Birmingham was the burial of those lingering hopes, then the Aston Villa match sought to dig them up and destroy them all over again.
It’s the beginning of February, and Spurs have abandoned all hope. I post this only to illustrate how removed from reality football supporters can be. This Spurs blogger’s opinion is ludicrous. Second half, they played us off the pitch and we had to park the bus. You’d have thought we had demolished them.
I urge you to consider these points:
- We would all love the one or two marquee players to improve us but we’re not going to get them. One: they’re too expensive. Two, there’s none available. Three, if they were available they wouldn’t come to Villa, NOT YET. Maybe soon. You cannot simply walk into Argos and ask for the catalogue number.
- There is no better manager than O’Neill available to us. He’s quirky – so what. Learn to love him, warts and all. He’s building a great team. And he’s doing it for us. Lie back, open your legs and think of England.
- Money alone will not win us the Premier League. I’d give you the examples but you know them anyway.
- Nothing, no thing, not one thing, that is required to endure is built overnight. Ask the Romans.
- Aston Villa has no God-given right to success. However much we spend, however hard we work, we will be matched by others who will spend more and work harder.
- What then is the thing that makes the difference? Character. O’Neill has it in industrial quantities. He brings in players that have it. Our owner, Randy Lerner, it seems to me, only invests in character. Aston Villa is becoming synonymous with ‘character’.
- Character builds a commitment to the team and to teamwork. It enables us to endure the losses and the setbacks. It ensures that we don’t get carried away with our successes.
- Character is the bedrock of our enterprise.
Our day will come. Depend upon it, Villains. Our success is ordained in the stars, the firmament foretells it. Be patient and endure.