No More Excuses, It’s Shit Or Bust Time For Villa

There’s a great line in Ridley Scott’s Gladiator where Russell Crowe shouts to the crowd “ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?, ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?, Is this not why you are here?”

Attack, Attack, Attack
Watching Man United’s performance against Newcastle United immediately reminded me not only what football should be about but what Manchester United Football Club are about.

This isn’t a vintage United side, but neither was the side that had Olsen, Strachan, Moses and Robson.

But they entertained, the fans knew there was going to be the unpredictable, the losses, the hidings dished out, the frailties and the rollercoaster.

But hearing United fans high in the Gods at St James’ Park signing ‘Attack, Attack, Attack” and “We’ll never die, we’ll never die” and lapping up every crazy minute of a crazy performance, you realise that this is what THEY want.

Those who PAY to watch, support their team, who travel home and away; they want entertainment.

They embrace the crazy and whether Man United win or lose, that’s their line in the sand, and I can’t help but agree with them.

Even LvG enjoyed it! Remember that Louis? Enjoyment? Putting the notebook away and living on your nerves a little, smiling, wowed by Rooney’s strike and dismayed by Dummett’s late deflected strike? That’s the essence of all great clubs and teams!

Barcelona, Real Madrid, Liverpool, Bayern have all had fallow years but none compromise their principles and their responsibility to fans to act like big clubs and for me that means not just playing the game but playing to win; to win well and to win with a swagger.

That’s why not one Man United fan will travel back across the Pennines unhappy, and hopefully LvG soaked up the atmosphere, looked around and asked himself “can I get this team to play like this but win enough games to challenge, rather than be afraid in winning, and boring our fans to death?”.

The answer is only known to LvG, but if he heard 52 thousand fans applauding, smiling and cheering roundly, he should bottle it, take it home and realise that even in the autumn of his managerial career, winning risky with Man United will bring you greater riches, plaudits, respect and maybe even happiness than the football of fear that has been the hallmark of LvG football over a number of years.

Aston Villa
Heart, spirit, passion and pride. Villa gave that for a first win in 19. That’s all the Villa faithful want, and boy do I know it.

When i signed in ’97, we lost our first 5 or 6 games, the crowd got on our back and it was a living hell personally, trying to get things right, do things harder, or faster, or different to get back on track.

Finally it worked and we rescued a poor situation, finished top 6, went on a club record unbeaten run and rescued some pride.

That’s what Villa fans wanted then and what they want now.

I personally believe there are many Villa players that aren’t good enough Premier League footballers. Although, that doesn’t mean, like Wycombe Wanderers or Oxford who beat Swansea, that those players can’t scrap, fight and grind their way to at least rescue a little pride for a grand old club, for themselves and most importantly for long suffering fans.

The signs against Palace were promising. Ayew and Kozak need to play together to see if they can strike up a partnership, praise from fans needs to be given when they see that promise and those at the top need to hold themselves accountable in front of Villa fans, and admit publicly the mistakes they have made. Then, and only then can the club move forward with a unity and purpose that will be needed if and when Villa go down.

There are no more excuses for players or management, this is it, shit or bust.

Go down with pride and dignity or fold. The scenes at Wycombe weren’t nice for players or fans to hear or see but sometimes, just sometimes, fans who can’t tell Mr Lerner what they feel because he’s in the USA, or can’t access an AGM because they have a real day job and a life, bowl over and let their frustration out. They care, and are asking players to care the same.

As a pundit, when I watch Villa play from today, or watch players on Twitter or Instagram, I expect to see gym work, pictures of unity and defiance, not selfies with the latest designer jeans on, or the beach selfie.

Stand up, man up and fight. We did it back in the day, and so can these players, it’s the very least Villa fans deserve.

The Palace game and performance needs to be a line in the sand not an empty promise.