History repeats itself again

Dave Woodhall on luck, injuries and Villa.

I can’t remember the last time a Villa player was reported to have an injury that was less serious than first thought. In 1979 John Gidman suffered a suspected broken leg at Ipswich that turned out to be nothing more than a knock on the ankle; there must have been one since then but you get what I mean.

That’s why, when Fabian Delph was said to be doubtful for Saturday’s trip to Goodison after damaging a shoulder in training, you knew that was the last we’d be seeing of him until the Christmas lights go up or, more probably, got packed away again. That’s the third senior player to pick up a serious injury in training this year. What do they train at Bodymoor – Rollerball?

Anyway, on to Goodison and the game which is legally contracted to be called the most-played top-flight fixture in English football. We have to refer to it in this way just to remind the nouveau riche of their place in the greater scheme of things.

Everton hadn’t started the season particularly well and neither did they have to improve that standard to win on Saturday. Villa’s three previous defeats have been partly-excused by the quality of the opposition. Now it seems as though we’re letting average teams beat us without having to break sweat. In a wider context, Everton are reaping the benefit of years of continuity, which Villa haven’t been allowed to enjoy for one reason or another, but that’s not much of an excuse for another total lack of inspiration or quality.

Ron Vlaar and Christian Benteke were clearly off the pace after returning from injury but that’s not an excuse either, and neither was the latest in Nathan Baker’s regular injury list – which might, you never know, lead to the re-appearance of Jores Okore. Villa go to grounds such as Goodison, where getting a result used to be routine even until a couple of years ago, as underdogs and that mentality is the biggest problem we face.

What’s also being seen as a problem is the sense of resignation around Villa Park, although this is something that I feel is out of anyone’s control. Since the Premier League there have been several shifts in the power base of English football; when it was set up and the top twenty clubs got bigger, then at the end of the nineties when even or eight of them began to get increasingly richer and more powerful.

Now the number of ‘haves’ is down to three or four, and for the first time Villa are on the wrong side of the gap. A new manager might take us a couple of places higher up the table, the right new owner might take us a couple further. But there’s nothing we, the supporters, can do other than support during the match and moan the rest of the time. Us, and every other set of fans in the country apart from those three or four lots who found themselves winning the lottery jackpot.