Before yesterday, the last occasion when I felt overwhelmed with pride to be a supporter of this famous old club was after the epic cup semi-final against Chelsea 3 years ago. Against the odds, the team had come within a whisker of beating the best team in the land (as was) and reaching the first Wembley Cup Final.Yesterday evening was one of those rare moments when the heart beats a little faster and the nerves tingle a little longer.
It has not been an easy time for anyone who holds the club close to their heart, but last night will have appeased many, temporarily at least. The team showed that they have a reasonable level of ability and talent who can take the game to the opposition, given the opportunity. Kalinic grows in confidence and matures with every game played. I said many weeks ago that he could prove to be a shrewd investment. I will go further and predict he can be the future of the club.
Martin Olson appears to have found his natural position, wide on the left and if Pedersen continues to play in that deeper role and be as effective and elusive as last night, then there may still be a future for him at the club.
It was vitally important for the PR of the team and Sam that we put on a show last night. To do it on prime time national TV was a bonus. The topic of conversation of this morning's grind to the coal face was how well Blackburn played. I overheard one commuter on the 7.20 into Waterloo express that Blackburn "weren't as bad as I thought."
Whether the so-called experts who gave Rovers no chance ate humble pie remains to be seen. Indeed most national newspapers praised Villa this morning for a wonderful night of football. And the other team...? Unfortunately it will take more than one stirring performance to change hearts and minds.
Yes, there was a very poor refereeing decision and some may argue that we had nothing to lose, but the performance has revitalised the fans thirst for the cause and restored the faith. It was evident how worried Villa had been by the scenes of relief and joy at the final whistle. The time is now to draw a line under the old and herald the new.
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