As I took my seat on a blustery day on the south coast, I glanced at twitter for the Aston Villa line up. It was then I remembered the famous line from The Stranglers and hit upon my main problem with Villa at the moment. ‘No more heroes anymore’.
I mean this in respect of both passion and ability. As I looked through the names pulling on the famous shirt, I didn’t feel pride or excitement. I felt something approaching indifference. It’s not that I particularly disliked any of the players, I just didn’t feel any attachment to them. I never thought ‘yes this guy could turn the game for us’ or ‘he’ll always play for the shirt no matter what the odds’.
I’m not saying they didn’t try. Hutton will put his body on the line and Ayew ran all afternoon but I couldn’t shake a niggling feeling that there was no one on the pitch I really believed in. They could all have good moments for sure, but no one to inspire the fans or indeed the other players.
Instead we’re left clutching at straws – could a teenager from Barcelona be the answer? Does the fact that Libor Kozak scored two goals against a Championship Under 21 side mean he can be the hero to inspire us out of the mire?
The trouble with the ‘buy low, sell high’ policy of the club is that if you don’t unearth a gem like a Benteke then you’re left with a very average squad lacking in any leadership or experience. Most weekends when I look at the Villa squad v's the opposition, I find myself playing a game – how many Villa players on ability alone would the opposition swap if they could? One or two at best is normally my answer. Sometimes it’s none.
Therein lies the problem for Villa this season. We’ve not been unlucky or even particularly underperforming, we’ve just been poor in all areas of the pitch. Perhaps the reality is dawning that after leaping into the unknown at the start of the season with all the new players, maybe we just have a bang average set of players and no more heroes anymore.