Let’s not get carried away, but things are looking better!
A long-awaited win that seemed like it may never have come and a 53-day winless streak was put behind us on Saturday, much to the relief of the fans, players and manager alike. It was a hard-earned win, but we learned a few things along the way.
I personally believe that blues have got better each week under Zola. It’s been an experimental time. Evidence for this comes only in looking at our line-up. Since Zola’s arrival, there hasn’t been one occasion that he has put out the same team in two consecutive matches. Furthermore, there are only two players who have been a part of every game since his arrival, David Davis and Jonathan Grounds. In such circumstances, it comes as no surprise that the team hasn’t seemed to build chemistry under Zola as many might have liked. Therefore, we must think of the period as a preseason type test, a period in which Zola could assess his options and formulate a plan. From such a period there are a few players who have emerged somewhat indispensable from the team; David Davis, Craig Gardner and Kuszczak are those I would personally propose as being so. However, I would argue that Adams seems more and more important every week, as does Jutkiewicz despite criticism by many fans of his misses in previous weeks. Nsue, Frei and Keita also look likely to stamp their marks on the team in the coming games, having impressed in their initial few starts at the club.
Yesterday, however, was not about the individuals. We can criticise very few on the basis of passion, commitment and desire yesterday with the post-match celebration epitomising the hard fought victory. Something had changed yesterday. We were no longer sitting back when we lost the ball, we were chasing it down. We were no longer wasting possession, we were exploiting gaps in the defence. The desperation to find a win seemed to bring out the best in the group of players, and when we look at the team without preferred centre-halves Morrison and Shotton, the victory came in the most unlikely of circumstances. Credit to the fans as well, who kept morale high throughout the game, getting behind the team as the twelfth man from the first minute. The whole atmosphere seemed lifted to a new level yesterday, quite unlike the rather hungover, Gary Rowett missing and dull spirits we’ve seen in recent weeks. Let’s keep it like that every week!
Whilst we might have celebrated last night as if we’d just won the league, we must remember that it’s only one game. One game in one of the hardest runs I think we’re going to have in quite some time. The likes of Preston, Sheffield Wednesday, Wolves and Leeds are games not to be taken lightly. There’s a long way to go yet and one win, against ten men, I’m sure is not going win the hearts and minds of all the blues faithful. So let’s take each game as it comes and not get hungover on a single win or complacent in a tough few weeks to come. I hope we don’t get too carried away, but maybe this is the turnaround. Villa are winless in seven, Blues look to get into a rhythm, touch wood all goes to plan!