BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - AUGUST 20: Gabriel Agbonlahor of Aston Villa celebrates scoring the first goal of the game during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Blackburn Rovers at Villa Park on August 20, 2011 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
It seems that certain people are a bit tired of the negative nancying that goes on around here. Which, I suppose, is a fair point -- I tend to have a gut reaction to reported transfers and I don't really sugar-coat my frustration. The transfers of Darren Bent and Charles N'Zogbia were about the only pieces of business that got my full support, besides the failed attempt to land Roberto Martinez as manager. I was skeptical of Shay Given. Stephen Ireland got a full-on thrashing around these parts (and quite frankly, I feel vindicated). And yeah, I'm none too thrilled with the signings of Alan Hutton and Jermaine Jenas.
But there's a difference between criticizing a player, and by extension the club, and not supporting Aston Villa. Once Hutton and Jenas were handed their claret and blue kits (Numbers 2 and 8, respectively, in case you hadn't heard yet), they became players deserving of my support. They are part of my team, and it is a team that I wake up at god-awful hours to cheer, not a team I'm waiting to see go under so that my arrogant comments are vindicated (and yes, I would still rather see Ireland do well than sit here smugly saying "I told you so").
Support, however, doesn't mean vapid acceptance of everything the club does. I'm not going to write that I think Stiliyan Petrov is a quality midfielder, or that Emile Heskey should be starting every game behind the striker. Aston Villa may be my club, but it doesn't mean I like the conservatism of Alex McLeish's style, or the fact that Barry Bannan isn't starting, or the way that the view of possible transfers is so narrow.
"Villa til I die." It doesn't mean blind acceptance and unfettered positivism. It means unwavering support when the squad takes to the pitch, hoping against hope that goals go in and the team takes all three points.