Proud history, bright future

Dave Woodhall bangs the drum for self-aggrandisement and arrogance.

This week sees the thirtieth anniversary of beating Tranmere, and next month we’ll be remembering the final, Ron Atkinson’s finest tactical hour, when he out-thought Alex Ferguson and the team outplayed Manchester United. Cup finals at Wembley were Ron’s natural stage – it may have all been a front but he gave off the impression of a man who belonged in the limelight and it worked; in the words of the late, great Terry Weir, “When Ron was manager, Villa got the publicity they deserve.”

Ron himself said something that was as true all those years ago as it is now – “One of the hardest parts of being Villa manager is persuading the club that it it can win trophies.” That sentence seems a big reason why we don’t win them a often as we should. Some clubs – Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea – have got the annoying knack of winning something every three or four years no matter how poor they are. On the other hand, no matter how good our team might be, we seem eternally cursed from adding to our silverware collection. 28 years is a long time.

I’ve said it before many times but we never seem to act big. We never act like we belong and we expect everything to go wrong any minute now. And so it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. There always seems to be a reason why the other team will beat us. There’s always a reason why we can’t challenge for trophies. This time last year there were suggestions that it might be too early to get into Europe and if we did get there we could struggle in the league this season. That hasn’t happened and perhaps we should take that as a reminder of how, if you don’t try, you’ll never succeed.

We’ve got an important few weeks coming up. In the league we’re at home to our main rivals for the holy grail of finishing fourth as we’ve also got a Conference League tie against one of the great European clubs. Win these and we’ll be on course for our best season this century, and there’s no reason why we can’t. If, no, when we do, it should give us a boost and show we fear nobody. Unai Emery certainly doesn’t.

These days, with FFP being more important than having a good manager, publicity is vital. The more often your badge is on TV, surrounded by your sponsors’ logos, the more sponsorship you can attract. It might seem good for the team to go under the radar this season but it won’t be as good for our turnover and with it our long-term chances. If we were a bit more confident, if we shouted louder about how good we are and about our promising future, there’s more chance that it might come true.