Aston Villa and a matter of pride

Villa’s season ends with defeat at Crystal Palace, watched by an unconcerned Dave Woodhall.

It’s not very often that Villa have a nothing at stake end of season game, and even rarer when the reason is because we’ve done all that needs doing rather than because we couldn’t do any better. And so it was that the Vlsupporters who travelled to Selhurst Park were more concerned with enjoying themselves than with worrying about the score, whether there or anywhere else for that matter.

Unai Emery finally managed what he’s been threatening all season – a full team of eleven players out injured, Emiliano Martinez being the latest casualty, and with one eye on the Euros it wouldn’t have been a major surprise if Ollie Watkins had also been missing had he not been chasing that elusive twentieth goal. One surprise addition to the bench was Emery jr, who probably spent most of the match with his old man telling him to sit up straight and not slouch.

Anyway, Palace scored an early goal then Villa looked like they wanted to play for half an hour. They had a few chances, Watkins missing the best of them with a free header from a corner, then before half-time Palace got a second and that was it.

Villa didn’t exactly fall to pieces after the break because they weren’t particularly intact to start with. It was clear from the off that they’d given every final bit of effort in that incredible comeback against Liverpool and there was nothing left. And yes, if one or two of them had been a bit less than totally professional since then, I don’t blame them. Three more goals gave the scoreline a bit of a lopsided look, and I know there’s usually a few goals going in on the final day so it would been nice if Villa had got one of them.

The season ended as it began, with a five-goal hammering, but anyone looking at those two scorelines in isolation wouldn’t have a clue about the 36 games between them. This Villa team has not only got some incredible results and put together some of the best performances I’ve ever witnessed, they’ve been a credit to the traditions of the club. Injuries have reached epidemic proportions, yet not once has Emery mentioned them, much less offered up an excuse.

We had an entire team out against Palace, and if you include Pau Tores, on the bench today and missing for a fair part of the season, they’re very likely a better one that the eleven who started. But no matter what’s been thrown at them, the team and management have carried on and succeeded against the odds. They should be proud of themselves, we should be proud of them.

Speaking of pride, I saw on Twitter that a young Villa player, whose name I shamefully didn’t notice, was saying his goodbyes after being given a free. Sir Graham once said that a free transfer is, in reality, the sack, and no matter how bad he might be feeling this lad, and everyone like him throughout the leagues, should also be proud of what they’ve achieved. They’ve reached a level that only a fraction of players ever manage and, briefly, lived the dream of every one of us who ever kicked a ball over the park. I hope he, and the others, get fixed up with another club and go on to have lengthy careers.

One thought on “Aston Villa and a matter of pride

  1. ‘Hear hear’ on the best wishes to the player being released! one reads about how much of a blow it is, particularly when a player has come up through the youth ranks so it is ‘the first rejection’.

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