Aston Villa Fan: I'm Enjoying This Dirty Flirt With Relegation

After Aston Villa's 6-1 win over Sunderland, it makes you realise how much more fun it is to be in the relegation dog fight rather than safe but with your season over in April.
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After Aston Villa's 6-1 win over Sunderland, it makes you realise how much more fun it is to be in the relegation dog fight rather than safe but with your season over in April.

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Last night Villa fans rubbed their eyes in disbelief watching the most complete home performance since the Tories were last in power.

When the old lady, Villa Park, gets herself roused the place creates an unbelievable atmosphere that only an old fashioned four stand ground can produce.

Pulsating belief transferred fans to the players to the fans and then back again in a rare demonstration of footballing nirvana under a Birmingham sky.

I’ve loved this dirty flirt with relegation, QPR and Sunderland are the best home games I can remember in years, and to blast Sunderland away on the TV was extra special because we never win on Mondays and usually fall flat on our face when on the nation’s goggleboxes.

I knew we would win, but not that much, just watching Sunderland in recent games it was obvious sooner or later it would be a case of the Fascist Emperor’s Clothes.

The demolition was payback for fans who have been patient with a young manager and team and that hour and a half showed a club united.

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And we are a club unstoppable in a quest for safety, I never thought we would go down so certainly think we will be safe now.

Of course Benteke got the Man of the Match but every player on that pitch played out of their skin and it would have been no surprise if someone else picked it up. Lowton, Delph, Gabby, Sylla, Westwood, Vlaar, Weimann and even wobbly Bennett all did the club proud.

The media narrative is that our Belgian beast is keeping us up on his own.

Which is nice considering the sneering when we signed him from the likes of Colin Murray and Phil Thompson.

Yes, guys we did dig up European football’s hidden secret from the Belgian leagues for the price of Andy Carroll’s right leg, it can be done. The debate between who to play Bent or Benteke now looks farcical and I am delighted Lambert stuck to his guns when the brickbats came flying into Villa Park.

But alongside our unplayable superstar, who by the way even kicks a corner flag out the ground with menacing panache, other players can rightly say they have produced the goods in this most difficult of seasons.

Matt Lowton, signed from Sheffield United, has grown into a formidable full back who already is being touted as an England player. Which by the way is usually a kiss of death for any Villain so please leave him alone Roy.

He has played almost every minute of the campaign and has had to learn his trade in front of thousands. At the start of the season he concentrated on the defensive side of his game unlike his colleague Matt Bennett who tried to show off his attacking skills.

However, in the last ten games Lowton’s attacking gifts have shone through, his crosses have created goals and he has intercepted more passes than anyone else in the side.

His goal against Stoke was crucial in our upturn in fortunes, and what a strike, a top corner goal of the season contender to put the Potters back in their box when it looked like we would crumble again.

Last night he intercepted old boy Gardner’s wayward pass and charged up the field waiting to release the perfect pass to Weimann to create a goal, it was like watching computer football, that kind of perfection just does not happen under pressure at Villa Park, well, ever.

In any other season Captain America Brad Guzan could feel confident of picking up a player of the year award. In the Summer he left the club and returned on reduced wages but on a promise of having a fair crack at wrestling the number one shirt off Shay Given.

It did not take Lambert long to realise old Shay is shot. In hindsight giving him a five year deal was as big of a wage wasting misjudgement as thinking broken clown Stephen Ireland could fit into our team and be a senior pro youngsters could look up to.

It says something about how bad the defence was no-one called for Guzan’s head when we were getting tonked 8-0 by Chelsea during our worst winter ever. Again and again the American comes for crosses and claims them, and over and over he has made points saving stops at crucial moments of the season.

Like the rest of our young team Ashley Westwood has had to learn on the job. The team’s water carrier, the short pass master, our Michael Carrick keeps us ticking over, and though can get shown up against the best, he is evidence again that talent can be found in the lower leagues.

Then there is our Austrian sniper in chief - Andreas Weimann who does not stop running and has weighed in with goals when we have really needed them. He compliments the players around him by the constant runs he makes and brilliantly does not let his head drop when he misses chances.

Two other players who have come into their own in the last six matches are Mr Delph and Gabby. Delph charges around the centre circle like a demented daddy long legs and collects more cards than a fit bird working in a sproket factory on her birthday but he is now finally performing for us.

He never could get a sustained run in the side due to being suspended or injured but in these closing games of the season his hard edged performances have been a revelation.

And then there is Gabby, the old pro, the much maligned striker who is now has scored more goals than any other Villa striker in the Premiership.

So often unable to fit in systems or woefully underused Gabby has come into his own as the games became more important. He is scaring defenders again and it is a joy to see.

What Paul Lambert has done with the Villa is nothing short of a miracle - freezing out the high wage earning senior pros and promoting kids was a brave but a necessary high stakes tactic.

Last night showed that pleasure is always better after a bit of pain.

It feels great to be a Villa fan again.