Yes, it was a bleak performance on the field. Yes, we have fallen to 14th place in the table, a mere 4 points above the drop zone. Yes, our form has become utterly unpredictable: where once we played better away, now it seems as though it doesn’t matter whether the opponent is on their home ground or ours, whether they’re near us in the standings or not.
Scratch that: having lost four games in a row, I guess you could say we have become completely predictable. (Surprising that’s only bad enough for 15th in the form table. Arsenal is 16th!)
I would probably have a few choice thoughts to offer about the way the team played and the manner in which we lost, had my attention not been diverted by a very special guest who joined the Chicago Villans at the Globe. The Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Michael Leddy, was in town helping to promote the sister-city relationship of two Second Cities, Chicago and Birmingham, and fancied watching a game at the pub.
Yes, you read that right: THE LORD MAYOR OF BIRMINGHAM. No entourage, no security, just an engaging young minder named Erik (who, incongruously, had a slight Swedish accent and was reluctantly outed by the mayor as a Chelsea supporter). The Lord Mayor seemed pleasantly baffled to find himself surrounded by Americans wearing Villa gear: Cat, Kevin, me, my dad (visiting from Montana), Tyler from Nebraska (not our usual Tyler, who is from Cleveland), and Greg. Although, partway along, we did pick up a Brummie, Peter (“You’re our mayor! Pleased to meet you, sir.” “No, sir, call me Mike.”)
It was a pleasure and a privilege to be able to chat so informally with such an august guest, and, as you might expect, we talked sports, not politics. (After all, we’re not the mayor’s constituents.) Mike told me he’s been a supporter since 1967, and the years have given him great perspective.
He is a supporter of Lambert, and believes he’s a better manager than even Martin O’Neill, and feels that Lerner has done the sensible thing by reining in the budget to steady the team’s finances. (Although he noted that Premier League teams rarely make money, regardless.)
And, as for those hysterics who feel as though we’re in the end times for Villa, consider this: the Lord Mayor has seen much worse. He’s seen dark, dark days, and years in the second division, only for the time to rise again. And, when it came to Saturday’s result, he said this: “It would have been nice to win, but we’re not going down.”
So there you have it, from the Lord Mayor’s lips!