I hope this piece finds all in the Aston Villa family safe and well.
From the top to the bottom of those involved in our club, from the likes of Christian Purslow at the highest brass to the most casual of fans, it’s important that as a community we all stay on the same page. Not that I’m egotistical enough to think that my words and thoughts are important enough that all of those involved in the club should read, intake, and act on my ramblings, but that there’s some things as a fan, media freelancer and human being I wanted to say.
We’re going into Project Restart, an unprecedented high-pressure ‘tournament’ ending to the 2019/20 Premier League season, where Villa have 10 games to survive. It’s as simple as that. No Tom Heaton, no Wesley Moraes, but outside of that we have a full arsenal – including five substitutes out of a possible nine.
And while the nature of the current pandemic leaves us in a state impossible to play football in front of fans, we have to take with the good with the bad. As long as players are taken care of, the fact remains that football is massive economically and massive entertainment for fans, who around the globe probably need it at this point.
So without Villa Park’s mighty turnstiles opening, it’s important as fans we set an example. The Villa family is an exceptional fanbase, not only in terms of passion and loyalty but also on the whole of being an example-setter for rivals on how to appropriately conduct yourselves in public. On that line, I urge anyone reading this to avoid Villa Park on Wednesday, and for the rest of the season. Do not compromise the work of so many millions of people around the world in minimising this pandemic, including NHS workers and essential workers who are proud, welcome members of our fanbase. Remember that Aston Villa is a pride, and you are part of that pride – represent the badge by staying at home, listening to guidelines, and steering clear of matches.
Stand up for the right causes, but enjoy the football. We’re so lucky to have Premier League football as it is; the game could easily have died out a century ago, and the pandemic could be a lot worse. We could even be in League 1 if the turbulent 2015-2018 period had spanned out differently. Aston Villa are privileged to be where we are, but don’t take it for granted.
As confident as we all are, we have to stick together, through survival, relegation, thick and thin. Through whatever the world throws at us next. We managed it through the latter end of the Lerner years and the Xia era – let’s pool our strength, loyalty, passion and commitment into the final ten games of the 2019/20 season.
Let’s set the example for the footballing world. Let’s embody what Aston Villa is all about. And let’s stay in this bloody league.
Stay Safe, Stay Home, & UTV. Take care.
Photo Credit: Catherine Ivill/GETTY IMAGES