Fulham for me just brings back those bad memories from the 2018 play off final. Previous to 2018 I had no ill feeling towards Fulham at all. In fact, it’s a great away day by the Thames, but I can’t now see them on TV without thinking about that horrible day.
After our encouraging start to season 2020-21, Villa fans are most likely split between heady optimism and Midlands-style weary cynicism before our game with Fulham this Monday.
Regardless where your mindset falls, matching Sheffield United for toughness whilst maintaining discipline and looking dangerous throughout was certainly a vast improvement on last seasons often lightweight efforts.
Our second string then looked imperious at times during our League Cup tie with Bristol City, suggesting Dean Smith’s work in building a culture of excellence at Villa Park is beginning to bear fruit. The performances of Davis and Traore in particular will have been noted by their opposite numbers in the first team.
A debut goal is a thing of beauty. It unites fans, teammates and the new player in a common delight rarely experienced elsewhere. After all, there are few walks of life where it’s possible to get off to such a prominent start in your new job.
So when news filtered through (most of us weren’t watching) of Bertrand Traore’s wonder strike at Ashton Gate, there was a particular delight that we might have something special on our hands for season 2020-21.
After last season’s journey to the League Cup Final and given that it was the last major trophy we won – albeit nearly a quarter of a century ago – Villa have something of an affinity with the competition we were inaugural winners of back in 1961.
After vanquishing League One Burton Albion in the second round last week, we’re straight back into action in the third round tonight against Championship side Bristol City.