The VTID: Emery Needs to add some Magic to his Method

The VTID Returns

Back in 2017, My Old Man Said had a monthly column called ‘The VTID’, written by a national newspaper journalist, who was a Villa supporter. Unfortunately, the writer’s employer got antsy after MOMS Media Muppets busted the newspaper for going all-in on an exaggerated story that Arsenal were about to snatch up Keinan Davis from Villa (it didn’t happen, did it!). Sadly, the writer couldn’t continue with the column due to the newspaper’s demand. Anyway, the column had been in exile since, but recently MOMS member and ex-Independent and UEFA writer, Adam Szreter got in touch to write a column, so here we are. Welcome, Adam, who will hopefully make The VTID a weekly affair for you.

Emery needs to add some magic to his method

By Adam Szreter

Now that we’ve got our European show well and truly back on the road, attention naturally turns to our precarious Premier League form and a tricky visit to the in-form Hammers. Prior to last Sunday’s horror show against Spurs, there were three little moments from the first half of the season that came back to haunt me while Villa’s form was quietly slipping away over the winter. Hopefully, there’s still time for the script to be rewritten and these incidents prove nothing more than footnotes to an ultimately successful season.

Emery’s Mike Drop?

The first was seeing Unai Emery, normally so understated in both victory and defeat, with a huge smile on his face, lapping up the applause from the Trinity Road as he made his way back to the dressing room at the end of our win over Manchester City. Now this was, by common consent, the performance of the season to that point by any team and the best in living memory by any Villa team, so I’m not going to criticize Emery for being happy. It’s just that…he did kind of give the game away. He’d never beaten Pep before, and this was such a comprehensive victory. How was he supposed to follow that? Did he drop the mike that night?

Battle of Brentford

The second moment that has stuck in my mind was the sight of Neil Maupay – yes, him – barging unnecessarily and aggressively into Emi Martinez at Brentford. And the little c u next Tuesday got the result he would have wanted – a reaction from Emi, both at the time, which was understandable, but also later in the game, which was totally inexcusable. Emi lost the plot for a split second and then all hell broke loose, resulting in Boubacar Kamara missing the next three games. 

The third little moment that stuck in my mind was the sight of John McGinn berating Kamara for his stupidity. It looked like he was saying: “You f**king idiot! Now look what you’ve done! You’ve f**ked the whole thing up!!” We managed to hang on against Brentford, but we only won because they were already down to 10 men for most of the second half. After that, without Kamara, we struggled at home to Sheffield United, away at Manchester United and at home to Burnley. Kamara came back but in this fan’s opinion, for whatever reason, he was not the same player he was before he saw red and Villa continued to struggle.

Before all this happened I thought Kamara and Martinez were the two most important players in our team, partly because they’re both very good, but also because we had no one to replace them. Or at least, in Kamara’s case, not without affecting the roles of both McGinn and Luiz ahead of him and completely upsetting the balance of the team. So it’s ironic that it was Kamara and Martinez who were at the centre of things during the Battle of Brentford.

Now, with no Kamara, Emery has to find a way to fulfill the expectations of Villa fans that he raised so high that night against Manchester City. We’ve barely seen that form since then. The first five minutes against Arsenal, and moments against Man United, especially at home. The performance against Fulham followed on from the promise we showed against United, and we cheered the victories over Forest and Luton. But looking back at them now in the light of the Spurs result, we can clearly see how fortunate we were to get over the line in both of those games against relegation contenders. 

Time for the Cavalry

Yes, there have been plenty of other injuries, and while Emery himself won’t use that as an excuse, he needs to find another gear. He needs to add some magic to his tried and trusted method, and find a second wind, before players start switching off during those long meetings. It would help Emery if Diaby stopped behaving like a bashful little kid in a sweet shop and instead started repaying Emery’s faith in him (which he showed promising scenes of against Ajax). We paid big money for Diaby to make a big difference. Likewise, there’s also potential upside and X-factor in the likes of Jhon Duran, Nicolò Zaniolo and Jacob Ramsey (if he gets fit and remains so), to help bring something fresh to the season and help in the run-in.

And now, of course, we’re missing Super John McGinn for the next three League games. You knew something was brewing in the Ginnster’s head when he said before the Spurs game that it was the most important Villa league match in recent memory. I must admit, I hadn’t quite cottoned on to that. I was thinking a point would be fine, but clearly SJM was on a mission. Let’s just hope he’s back at the helm in time for us to complete it.


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