‘Just have a little patience’, is something you would hear a reformed quartet of Gary Barlow, Howard Donald, Mark Owen and Jason Orange harmonise over in 2006. “Take That”; something I imagine Swansea boss Graham Potter muttering under his breath in retaliation to the Welsh side’s losses at the hands of Villa in the league.
It seems that the Villa faithful could learn a thing or two from the philosophical teachings of Barlow et al. After all, they did perform the song in front of 48,000 on June 27, 2011; maybe the message fell on deaf ears, so I’ll repeat the proverb instead, ‘Patience is a virtue’ my Villa friends.
Patience is said to be one of the seven heavenly virtues (I’m an atheist for full disclosure) but with Villa Twitter firmly out in force, one would think Dante’s Inferno would be the more fitting scenario. For context, Aston Villa would be Dante in this anecdote, being guided through hell, and judging by the unrealistic view of some fans that we can win every game, we’d be entering the fourth circle of Hell; Greed.
Some could make the accusation of failing to uphold this virtue myself whilst under the reign of Steve Bruce and thus being contradictory, however I would make the case that a week shy of 24 months in charge, with a squad of self-invention is arguably a luxury in the 21st century.
Anyway, that’s the end of me spouting literary and lyrical drivel. God knows why I brought up Take That, I don’t even like them.
Whilst I happily admit I have never been one to be a constant beacon of positivity, pessimism is far from my truth. Pragmatism would suit one better, and that requires looking at situations from an objective standpoint.
Villa Twitter can be a glorious yet so disappointing place to reside after such drab performances and whilst I am inevitably disappointed at recent performances, the level of emotion, unwarranted emotion, is almost unbearable.
Calling for Dean Smith to be sacked? We are no better off than under Steve Bruce?
Just for clarity, here are three reasons why this is a moronic notion to maintain:
1). We lost to a team only two places below us in the same division. When looking at other shocks in the FA Cup this weekend, ours doesn’t seem so bad; Shrewsbury held Stoke 1-1, League 1 Gillingham toppled Premier League Cardiff and Manchester United beat Reading 2-0 for goodness sake!
Don’t get me wrong, no excuses for performance should be taken but it’s the FA Cup, this stuff happens every year. Put the confidence boost from a cup run aside, with an obviously tired squad, more game is the last thing we need.
2). Our squad compared to Swansea’s was depleted. Five of the starting XI were without regular game-time in the past few weeks, one even further out of position than before, and one in John McGinn who desperately needed a rest.
In comparison, Swansea made just one change from their 4-1 victory over Reading in the league on New Year’s Day. Analysing teamsheets, it may seem Swansea make changes often but the full matchday squad rarely differs thus meaning players will surely have a greater understanding of one another.
3). Five points away the playoff spots, 6 wins, 5 draws and 3 losses in the league doesn’t seem too bad of a start to me.
So far under Smith we have accumulated 23 points in 14 games or 1.64 points per game, admittedly not great but in our last 10 league games, we lie sixth in the form table. In that spell we have scored the most goals (25) as well as the third best goal difference in the league and losing only 1. Not bad for someone working with a side that isn’t his.
I don’t buy this tripe that a coach should be able to inherit a team and work magic; would Tiger Woods, Phil Taylor or Michael Schumacher be as successful using another competitor’s equipment? Not a chance.
Smith has a system, it may be hard to conceive but not all players can mould to a specific way of playing, possibly the reason why the likes of James Chester appear to be struggling. He must be given time to piece together a squad he can depend on and unfortunately for all of us, that may take longer than several months.
Those that may call my plea for patience contradictory may want to question their own standards Baying for Dean Smith tasting blood, three months into the role after vociferating for Bruce’s continued employment based on a lack of time afforded to him, is the distinct foolishness that leads to our supporters being increasingly disliked.
Take heed to Take That’s words of wisdom, have patience and go forth for with a transfer window two, Dean Smith will lead us to the promised land.
By Jack Cudworth