Now don’t get me wrong, I’m well aware that I’m not the only person in the world that has ever experienced this pain but why does it feel like I am? My team currently face the abyss that is relegation and we are only half way through the season.
In all my football supporting life I have never known my team play any other football than Premier League football. This dropping into the Championship malarkey is making me feel emotions about my team that I can honestly say I have never felt before, devoid of hope and dejected are two that spring to mind.
I have been a lifelong supporter of the club, from the tender age of five my father took my brother and I to all the home games and it was there, standing in the terraces that I felt that swell of pride when we scored, that I felt that pain when we lost. The whole week was spent looking forward to the game and come Saturday morning I’d be scanning the news to see what team the manager was putting out (there was no sky sports back then) and I’ve lived through the highs and lows that come with being a football fan.
Where it all began
The past few seasons have been a rocky road at Villa Park, we’ve narrowly avoided relegation at the end of the last few seasons, but at the start of this season I felt hopeful, especially after the win on the opening game of the season. Now there was nothing special about the game, the team just put in a good steady performance but it seems like light years ago and now we're bottom with eight points.
Looking back, I now see where the rot set in and it all starts with Randy Lerner in 2006. Sure we were hopeful at first, we’d got rid of “Deadly Doug Ellis” and our future seemed bright. However ten years down the line it is becoming more apparent that Randy and the board really didn’t have a Scooby Doo how to run a successful football club.
There has been a merry go round of managers, too many high costing players that just didn’t perform, one of them being Darren Bent. And did you know for every time he touched the ball it cost a whopping £27,000! With his £24 million pound transfer fee and his £65,000 a week wage bill that surely gives him the dubious title of one of the most expensive Premier League flops in history.
We also watched on as various quality players such as Ashley Young, Fabian Delph and Christian Benteke were sold and never replaced. We could sit here all day and discuss the reasons behind our fall from grace and why we sit languishing at the bottom of the table, but for me it’s very clear and the realisation hit me like a smack in the face.
Is there hope?
Now before I say this I know that many of you are still clinging on to hope, hope that by some miracle we are going to bring in the players this month to pull off the great escape. However I’m about to speak the words that no self respecting fan should ever utter about their team; we're not a good enough team to play in the Premier League!
There I’ve said it and I can almost hear the sharp intakes of breath from the readers, but allow me to explain. I sat open mouthed as I watched our performance against Sunderland on Saturday night, I knew the score (I have given up covering my ears and waiting to the watch the replay) but I had to torment myself by watching.
Our midfield is weak and there are too many light weight players who get blown off the ball. Although players like Gill and Traore do posses excellent passing skills, we need to even that out with holding midfield players and more importantly defensive midfielders who aren’t afraid to put a foot in. I could go on about our defence and our lack of a scoring front man and our lack of physical presence (it appears the Premier League is becoming more physical, with players literally fighting for every touch of the ball) but it’s pointless.
You see it’s at times like this that every football fan becomes as knowledgeable as a Premier League manager, cries of “I wouldn’t have played that formation” or “I wouldn’t have put out that starting eleven” or even “he hasn’t got a clue about tactics, I would have done things differently” fill the air. I have never claimed to posses any managerial skills and I don’t intend to start now.
But I can share with you that sickening feeling of woe I feel at the moment. Yes I push it to the back of mind and get on with my everyday life, but it’s always there. I also have to put up with endless jibes from The Clowns that never seem to miss the chance to stick the knife in.
I have now resigned myself to the fact that we are going down and I know that come the last day of the season I will watch on with tears rolling down my cheeks as we face that indignity, but I also know that when the tears have dried and next season starts, I will be there cheering my team on, my heart filled with hope that this season will be better.
I know I'll be doing this because that’s what we do as fans. We stick with our team through the good times and the bad. Yes we can cry, scream or cheer our way through the season but it’s in any true football fans DNA; you stick with your team through thick and thin, even though at times the pain in your heart is unbearable.