Time for Villa fans to panic? I don't think so

Whether due to the international break or a group of fans having too much time on their hands, Matt Turvey asks why the panicking is back, and how validating false beliefs only leads to ruin.

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Tottenham Hotspur v Aston Villa - White Hart Lane

A few months ago, I wrote a piece discussing how I was happy that now Paul Lambert was installed as manager, fans were together and the dark days of supporter anarchy during the Alex McLeish reign were banished to the past.

I’d thought to myself that a headline following the club’s loss at White Hart Lane would be “Panic on the streets of London, panic on the streets of Birmingham?” as the Smiths once sang.  Well it turns out that a group of our fans are well and truly panicked.  The often loud group of anti-establishment minority fans are back again and are, unsurprisingly, angry and unhappy.

With Aston Villa in the early stages of this season’s campaign I’ve seen all sorts of sensationalist headlines about “Villa’s worst start in 25 years” and how “Lambert needs to be sacked.”  While the points total is low as the first headline states, points alone mean nothing without context.  Starting the season also has nothing to do with how the team finish it.

I’d like to say that I’m shocked by the reaction of this minority of fans but, sadly, I’m not.  It seems that nowadays, due to the sheer desire for a certain group of fans to appear “smart”, sensationalist, or otherwise the centre of attention,  they are writing stories poking holes in what the manager is doing, and how doing x, y, or z would clearly have done better.

Perhaps writing this article shines a light on these people when they should be ignored, but there comes a time when the elephant in the room needs to be addressed - these fans aren’t helping Villa’s cause, they are acting much like a cancer on the club’s chances of recovery.

There’s an over simplistic logic used by this minority suggesting that if x doesn’t work, y will.  This is of course nonsense as you can play 4-4-2 and lose, and play the exact game with 4-5-1 and still lose - football is not that simple, and changing one variable does not fix a problem.

However, it’s not uncommon to see many arguments over simplified on today’s anger ridden internet sites, but these false arguments only serve to build even bigger problems - the self validating fan.

After all, what these fans do is reify their own beliefs by postulating that by doing y, that which they suggested and not x, that which the manager did, then things really would have been better which, in reality, is nonsense in factual terms.  An opinion, yes, but a fact, no.

That isn’t to say a particular change couldn’t have made a difference, rather that there is certainly no way of proving it could and, therefore, it would be foolish to assume so.  The escape route for these type of fans is that you can’t prove doing it their way wouldn’t have worked, but then you can’t prove it would have.

Such an attitude is the ultimate way of eternally fuelling arguments - look at religion - and Villa have a similar level of zealotry amongst this minority.  This of course works to their advantage by making their views the centre of the media’s attention.

Subsequently, this is the reason why the national media think all Villa fans are ungrateful and fickle, that they don’t understand football, and that fans live in the past.  The reality is that it isn’t all fans, but the ones screaming loudly make it appear that way - as an old saying says “Empty vessels make the most noise.”.

However, many fans are doing exactly that, validating their own views based on evidence that will never be seen, and acting as though the man in charge clearly has no idea because what he is doing isn’t working.

The reality is that the average fan will never get the chance to manage Villa, but many of us - myself included - do think about tactics, formations, and who we’d like to see playing.  The difference on this side of the fence is that I don’t use hindsight knowledge to beat the manager over the head with in a losing situation - it is largely pointless.

So why does this group of fans do such a thing? To appear intelligent in their own little communities, to appear popular by going along with the illogical “If I complain more, I must be more passionate about my club than those that don’t.”  Such a rationality, if you pardon the irony there, is totally irrational - how does moaning mean you are more passionate?

To give an example, would you be seen as more of a passionate person if you constantly berated your children when they did badly?  It doesn’t really require a doctorate in teaching or psychology to know that such an attitude will rarely bear fruit, and the being supportive - the core of what a supporter is supposed to do - is trying to be objective, not universally egocentric.

Which, sadly, is what these fans are doing.  Ironically, in their announcements that they are more passionate or otherwise “better” than any other fan, they are just reinforcing their own beliefs - that their thoughts are correct, that all choices they make would have been different, that things would be so much better if only things changed.

As a former Villa European Cup winner said to me over coffee “It is much easier to complain or be negative about a football team when they have done something wrong.  Anyone can do that.  The challenge is to be positive when things aren’t going well, and to do what you can to make things different.”

Which is what everyone from the owner, to the manager, through the players and supporters should be trying to do.  Not whining, not making statements about how “things would be better under my direction and that the manager is an idiot”, and not talking sensationalist rubbish about how Lambert, a manager who has potential but who will need time, should be sacked.

So, for those that do choose to see the world through purely their own eyes, and not the eyes of a player, manager, or other person involved in the game, think about how objective you are really being.  If you take a step back and realise that this incessant complaining isn’t helping, quite the reverse, and that opinions based on “what ifs” are only opinions and not facts, then things would be far better amongst the fans.

The manager has a hard road ahead of him, something I had stated months ago back when many of the same complaining fans thought that McLeish’s departure would be a panacea for all of Villa’s worries, and that more spending would be the answer.

Turns out it wasn’t, and it wouldn’t be the answer.  The future’s about thinking long term, not panicking short term.  So relax, sit down, and realise things aren’t as easy as they look on Football Manager or FIFA so if you’re that desperate to appear the all-conquering manager, go coach a kids team - who knows, maybe you might prove me wrong and be the greatest manager I never knew about.

You can follow Matt Turvey’s regular opinions at his own site, Aston Villa Life at www.astonvillalife.com, via the site’s Twitter account @astonvillalife, or via his own Twitter account @MatthewSTurvey.

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Comments for: "Time for Villa fans to panic? I don't think so "

Ben Freer

Good read !

I'd add whilst I'm still delighted by the appointment of Paul Lambert as Aston Villa manager - I've yet to see this tactical nous come through during a match.

I sat with a very respected national journalist a month ago and he was regaling me about how during a game last season Lambert changed his Norwich teams formation 6 times during a game to out smart a very good Brendan Rodgers Swansea team ... A won the match.

I think it'll take him 2 seasons to gel Aston Villa into "his" team and as patience isn't a virtue shared by many Villa fans, he's likely to get a few negative comments from the social media forums.

I'm perfectly happy to give the manager time but aligned with patience I'd also like to see the teams shape / formation also be adapted a little more.

Paul Simmonds

Excellent article Matt. The problem with the internet articles is that anyone with any kind of agenda can write them. Many of these panic missives will have been written by Blues or maybe even Norwich fans. Realistic Villa fans will know that Lambert was the best choice we could have made and because we are not owned by sheiks, oligarchs or massively in debt like Man U we cannot spend our way into the Top 6 (we tried this approach and it didn't work). Give the man time to do things his way.

Terry Jones

Mat,yet another one of Lambert,s Lemmings one win in seven league games who do you think you are kidding. Us villa fans whom are criisising Lambert are the ones that did not want him in the first place.Think that those whom are singing his praises at the moment will as the saying goes be singing from a different hyme sheet when the inevitable happens at the end of the season and the trap door shuts on Villas PREMIERSHIP reign.

Villa till I die

Terry you are an absolute joke mate take your opinions else where, where ever I look be it twitter or the forums you are on it with negative comments that are not needed! Villa don't need fans like you if you are that bothered go support City. You call yourself a Villa fan your a disgrace. I think this article touched a nerve hence your reaction. Many fans think they can do a better job than Lambert but in reality he is the best we could have done with the state the club was in who did you want as manager then Jose or Pep, Ferguson!! Don't make me laugh be realistic support the team and maybe they might surprise you if at the end of the season we are relegated then you can say I told you so but until then be positive or don't bother at all because most fans don't want to hear the rubbish you keep spouting on about!!


You are a clueless idiot using your anonymity to wind everyone else up. Go and find some other internet sites and cheer yourself up a bit, you must be very lonely with opinions like that!!

Robby W

Excellent piece Matt. I find it hilarious when fans say "I'm critisising because we didn't want him anyway!". Well that just says that you're critisising because you didn't get your own way.

Hmmm..... bit of a dobba comment that matey. DOH !

Villa Fan

I don't think at this present time that Villa fans should be worried about the team getting relegated, yes it hasn't been the best of starts to the season but gradually over time we shall improve. It will take Paul Lambert another season to get Villa into the top half of the Barclay's premier league table. Overall It will be a much better season for us without a shadow of a doubt in comparison to last season, so give Paul Lambert time to reestablish the team that was able to get a 6th place finish in the league for 3 consecutive seasons.


good read its work in progress and id like to no how many of these so called villa fans actually go to the games or do they just watch final score ???????????? this fan here will back the team no matter what vtid

clowns pocket

Is that the same Terry Jones from Monty Python, well that would expain his hilarious comments...."He's not the messiah, he's not a Villa fan either!

Matt Turvey

Thank you to everyone for the kind feedback on the piece - looks like the reaction on here and Twitter is almost universally positive that I have brought the topic up.

As many have said, Lambert is as good a manager as Villa can afford to attract at this point in time and will be a solid asset for us in the long term.

Interesting to see some sensationalists write pieces this season about how Lambert is a worse manager than McLeish, and that they would rather have him back - wasn't what the same fans were saying last year!

One commenter summed it up perfectly above saying it is like a spoiled child complaining because they didn't get their way and that the manager isn't instantly fixing the team - nobody sensible expected the whole thing fixed over night.

So thanks again for your comments everyone - always welcome feedback on my articles.


it's time to get behind the manager and the club it is not going to happen overnight the manager has said as much he also said he would make mistakes which thus far he has owned up to!! we are going place's with this manager i have been a fan for over fifty years and I see similarities between him and Ron Saunders,and a close friend of mine whom had the privilege to chat with sid cowens has also endorsed my belief these are exciting times let's unite and get behind the club time to feel a bit of passion all you doom and gloomers you have got to believe!!!!!!!