I have no idea how this keeps happening!
Now, before you start calling me Charlie and suggest I place various things in my nether regions, I should begin by mentioning I am in fact an Aston Villa supporter, so much so that each Christmas I go through the official Aston Villa merch catalogue to order a new AVFC tie. But I’m also a rational observer, and that’s why I can say with some certainty that Aston Villa’s Premier League success just doesn’t seem grounded in reality.
Not that Villa aren’t a sturdy club at the moment. Martin O’Neill is an adept manager and Randy Lerner is a wise chairman. The club has taken a page from the David Moyes/Everton playbook by managing to hold firm in the top six using only a ratchet, a bit of pipe cleaner, and a big man up front. But a quick rundown of the past few Villa league matches will illustrate what I’m talking about.
Portsmouth 0 Aston Villa 1: Heskey scores on his debut! Then Villa scrambles to contain Portsmouth for the next seventy minutes, conceding about a quarter of a million corners and letting Utaka do whatever he wanted in the final fifteen minutes, which amounted to squaring up and missing.
Sunderland 1 Aston Villa 2: Sunderland owns Villa for forty-five horrible minutes. “Champions League, You’re Having a Laugh” sings the Stadium of Light. Forty-five minutes later, Milner discovers his inner-Maradona after he may or may not have handled the ball into the net, Ashley Young gets sent off, Gabby goes down outside the box but it’s a penalty for some (glorious) reason, three points. *Cough*
Aston Villa 2 West Brom 1: Villa play well for most of this, but Carson is awful, own-goaling the winner. Villa looks to muck everything up at the end, trying their best to award WBA a penalty in the final stages, but Steve Bennett says no.
Hull 0 Aston Villa 1: Grinding deadlock, Villa look a bit all over the shop, Hull plays valiantly until Zayate’s o.g. in the 88th minute.
Aston Villa 2 Arsenal 2: Villa play brilliantly, the best they have all season. Concede two goals. Score two goals, Zat Knight getting the equalizer in extra time. Luck be a lady.
West Ham 0 Aston Villa 1: Lucas Neill own goal in the 78th minute. Ta da!
So if you’ve been keeping score, three of Villa’s past six games have been won on own-goals. I mean, I know the old cliche about champions winning ugly, but every single game? If you’re a Villa fan, you have to believe this is one huge hump we’ve gotten over, and the free-wheeling, quick-passing, hit-them-with-speed attacking football is just around the corner. Either that or avoid any and all sidewalk cracks, wear the same smelly Villa shirt everyday and keep praying the rosary on Saturdays. It’s worked so far…