Back to the league and Luton are coming to play.
After the excitement of another European adventure it’s back to Villa Park on Sunday afternoon (if you’ve managed to get off the runway at Schipol, that is) and yet more thrills, spills and bellyaches in the form of our next visitors, Luton Town.
It would be an understatement to say that in recent years Luton have been a bit of a rollercoaster. In fact, they’ve made what’s happened at the Villa look about as uneventful as Ipswich, or rather as uneventful as Ipswich would have been if they hadn’t had Paul Lambert as manager. Luton managed to go from the old first division the year before it became the Premier League to non-league, helped by the biggest points deduction in history. Perhaps if they’d had 115 charges against them the case wouldn’t have come to court yet, or else been quietly forgotten. They overcame all that and managed to get into the Premier League this season, then despite the general belief that they’d already be relegated by now, they’re not even in the bottom three.
You could have a smidgeon of admiration for them, achieving so much and having to go through their neighbour’s back bedroom to get into the away end, but this is Luton. It might be a long time ago, but never forget the litany of crimes they committed against football. Plastic pitch, David Evans, identity cards, away fan bans, supporters who agreed with banning away fans, Mick Harford, nasty little hooligan firms, David Evans, Paul Elliott. That’s Luton. They also gave us Bruce Rioch and Chris Nicholl, which is a very small consolation.
They’ve got Ross Barkley and Marvelous Nakamba in their squad. One of them deserves a good reception. We’ll have the usual selection of global superstars and continent conquerors to choose from and a manager to choose them who you wouldn’t swap for any other. We’re bang in form and they’re still struggling. Usually that only means one thing. This, though is Unai Emery’s Aston Villa.