Who Are These Guys?

Only one more signing until we reach lucky 11
Only one more signing until we reach lucky 11

Nothing like a wholesale cleanout of the squad to remind us that Aston Villa Football Club isn’t only about a bunch of highly paid professionals toiling on the pitch. Players come and go, managers come and go, owners come and go (we hope), and only the fans remain.

(And, as the Soft Boys remind us, the stones.)

I watched the 1-0 win over Bournemouth from my dad’s living room in Montana with a strange feeling: who are these guys? I was still trying to remember who Rudy Gestede was and where he came from when he up and scored a goal.

Even though I followed most of the transfer news over the summer, there was still a strange sense that another team had broken into the dressing room at Villa Park and stolen the kits. Overall, I’m delighted that Sherwood has made so many changes. While I still feel believe that the players we had for the past few years were better than their team performances, at some point you have to try something different. I think Sherwood was on to something when he said that a “losing mentality” had gotten hold of the team.

(If you’re having a hard time keeping track of the comings and goings, the ever-organized Germans have got it all sorted.)

You’re Welcome, Scousers!

This hurts. Hard to wish him well.
This hurts. Hard to wish him well.

So: new players. Like everyone, I hated to see Benteke go and sorry to see Delph leave, but that is the harsh reality of the Premier League. (I shed nary a tear for Substandard Concrete Ron) If your team resides mid-table or lower, your best players will be plucked by richer clubs. I just wish it had been almost anybody but Liverpool. They steal your hubcaps AND your best strikers.

And as much as I have been happy to see changes made and players go, I have a bittersweet feeling now that those players I spent all those hours cheering for and cursing at have vanished, replaced by a new lot who are bound to bring joy and disappointment, too, if only in new ways—and hopefully in a new ratio that favors the joy at the expense of disappointment.

I thought the new team played well, overall, in the home loss to Manchester United, which I watched in a corner of my screen at work. Yes, it hurts that our home record against the Red Devils continues to be one of futility. But fielding a squad with that many players who have had so little time to gel, and losing by only one goal, well, I’m not crushed. And we all know it should have been 1-1 anyway, with the ref ignoring a stone-cold penalty against Micah Richards.

I think we have speed and creativity this year, along with depth and some options—still not sure where the goals are going to come from, though. But the malaise surrounding the team has lifted. I’m excited to see them come along, and even more excited to get down to the Globe on Saturday morning with the rest of the Chicago Villans. Even more than the players, those are the people that matter.

Villa crest black and white

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, THANK YOU. If you’re even an occasional or first-time reader, thanks as well. Due to an increasing work load at my job, and to a couple of books I’m working on, I’m unlikely to post match reports after every game or to post even every week this season. But I do hope to keep the blog going, and I have some new ideas of things to share, both Villa-related and not. I’ve enjoyed connecting with other supporters online and I’d hate to give that up. So stay tuned and UTV!