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American Born Villan

Aston Villa, From Chicago to the Holte End of the World

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Match Report

Aston Villa 0 – Liverpool 6: Valentine’s Day Massacre

I haven’t been blogging about Villa much lately. Part of it has been that I have been busy with three very different book projects (stay tuned for more on those). Part of it has been the usual stuff of my day job, my family, and the things I love to do, like coaching my kids’ teams. But I suspect the biggest reason is that, too often, I feel I’ve run out of new things to say.

I’ve written one or two posts about what it feels like to win. I’ve written a few posts about meaningless draws. I’ve written still more about losses big and small, and the grind of supporting a terrible team. And I’ve written a lot about how, often, the only thing that makes supporting Aston Villa worthwhile has been the Chicago Villans.

I’m about to write another one of those. What’s the point? you might reasonably ask. But you could also ask that about watching our team over the past four and a half seasons. Continue reading “Aston Villa 0 – Liverpool 6: Valentine’s Day Massacre”

Aston Villa 1 – Crystal Palace 0: No Villans No Cry

Jumpin' Joleon Lescott

The official hashtag for this game, #AVLCRY, didn’t bode well. Given how much heartbreak we’ve suffered this season, I think most Villans were expecting this match to bring further tears. Despite a recent slackening in form, Crystal Palace were bringing the league’s best on-the-road defense to Villa Park and a team with the lowest home scoring record in English league soccer with, if memory serves, 6 home goals this season.

Also a team that hadn’t won in 19 games.

But we won! We won, we won, WE WON! Sure, the goal itself was an absolute goalkeeping howler that is likely to haunt Hennessey to his grave, but the three points are ours and nobody can take them away from us. Only 21 games played and we’re finally in double digits! What’s better is that Villa truly deserved the win. Yes, Palace created a couple of very nice chances, one of them with less than a minute played, but on balance, Villa had more possession, better passing, and, while the final ball still let them down too many times, did genuinely look like scoring more often. They played with heart and commitment and finally held a lead to the end. Continue reading “Aston Villa 1 – Crystal Palace 0: No Villans No Cry”

Aston Villa 2 – Watford 3: Game, Set, and Season?

So Next Year I’ll Have to Watch Games on Bein Sport?

Is this how our Premier League run ends? Losing 2-3 to a newly promoted side?

Or did it end with last week’s 0-4 loss to Everton, a loss so disheartening I couldn’t write about it. I had a headline—”When the Light at the End of the Tunnel Is an Approaching Train”—but nothing else.

It will likely be impossible to pinpoint the moment Villa secures relegation, and it won’t be official for some time to come. But even I, an eternal optimist and true believer, don’t believe we’ll find safety this year. And Alan Hutton’s own goal, when he nudged the ball away from an onrushing Odion Ighalo only to guide it into the corner of Brad Guzan’s goal, sums up the season well enough.

Hope is a slow-acting poison. After Remi Garde engineered a shock nil-nil draw against Manchester City, I fully believed we could engineer another draw against Everton, despite their superior record against us. Who knew? Maybe we’d even steal a win. Ross Barkley’s first goal at 17 minutes destroyed Garde’s game plan, though, starting the rout, and by the whistle I was convinced our season was over. Continue reading “Aston Villa 2 – Watford 3: Game, Set, and Season?”

Aston Villa 0 – Manchester City 0: A New Hope

All smiles at the Globe Pub
You only come to see the Villa!

That flutter in my chest—was it hope? Or merely a sign that I shouldn’t have ordered the egg-and-sausage omelet at kickoff?

I’m Not Crying

Forty degrees as I rode my bike toward the Globe at 7 a.m. on Sunday morning. The wind had my eyes watering and hoping that no one saw me before I could dry them. They might think I was crying in advance of the expected result in a battle of first against worst. (Testifying for the defense: Flight of the Conchords.)

En Garde

My prediction for this game had been an 0-3 Villa loss. Granted, that was in the misty days of yore, a full 23 days earlier, back when a man named Tim Sherwood was the manager of the team. Gather round, children, and I’ll tell you the tale of a man whose magical powers were contained in his gilet. Once vanity caused him to forswear the sacred garment, his days were surely numbered . . . .

The choice of Remi Garde as the new Villa manager was an intriguing one, but with a team mired in last place and enduring a seven-game league losing streak taking on the team at the top of the table, it didn’t seem reasonable to expect much. I think I speak for most Villans when I say we were hoping not to be embarrassed too badly. At best, we wanted to see signs of improvement. And even if Villa were to get hammered 6-0, no one would have blamed Garde. Continue reading “Aston Villa 0 – Manchester City 0: A New Hope”

Chelsea 2 – Aston Villa 0: Plumbing New Depths

Costa and Guzan 10-17-15

Did anyone actually expect us to win? I didn’t. And, for the first time the season, I didn’t even want to watch. Instead, I spent my Saturday morning taking a bike ride and architectural tour with my wife while my sons stayed home and watched cartoons.

I suppose that makes me a bad supporter, but I don’t feel too guilty. I have spent quite a bit of time and money watching Villa play badly in recent years, and it felt strangely liberating to just opt out. The time was well spent.

When I caught up with the game later, it seemed as though it was badly played on both ends, and Chelsea didn’t win it as much as Villa gave it away. Another horrific distribution error by Guzan and an unfortunate deflection off Hutton were all the hosts needed to take three points. Continue reading “Chelsea 2 – Aston Villa 0: Plumbing New Depths”

Aston Villa 0 – Stoke City 1: Nothing New to Say

Not really the thing we want our players to be seeing on match day
Not really the thing we want our players to be seeing on match day

So Villa lost again last Saturday. I couldn’t bring myself to post anything on Monday. I didn’t have anything new to say, and I certainly wasn’t able, as I sometimes am, to find something to laugh about. Had we beaten Stoke, as we should have, I would have felt a glimmer of hope that things would get better. But we didn’t, and any shred of optimism I might have had about our chances this season departed.

I felt pretty much the same way on Tuesday and Wednesday.

And now it’s Thursday and I’m still don’t have anything new to say. I am a bit curious how a new “Would you sack Tim Sherwood?” post would turn out. Last time, it ended with about 75% of respondents still backing the manager. Guessing it would be somewhat lower now but the whole exercise seems too depressing. Continue reading “Aston Villa 0 – Stoke City 1: Nothing New to Say”

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