Its Ding Dong Derby week in Brum as Villa take on Blues in what might just be the last derby for a while if Steve Bruce’s side get promoted along with Wolves and the Baggies avoid relegation from the Premier League.
So the message is loud and clear for the supporters- enjoy it to the maximum – that’s before, during and after. Of course the “after” enjoyment very much depends on the result and performance.
One thing is certain and that is that emotions will be running at overload and for the sake of the good name of the City it is vital that those emotions are channelled into support for the team and not into any unsavoury and embarrassing behaviour in or out of the stadium.
It is a derby clash that neither team can really afford to lose with Villa right on track for an automatic promotion place and Blues battling to climb further away from the relegation zone. Defeat for either would harm those aims.
Villa are in superb form having won 6 on the spin while Blues have won 2 on the bounce so confidence should not be an issue. Dealing with the occasion is the biggest hurdle the players have to deal with. Honours were even in the reverse fixture at St Andrews although there were chances for both teams but none better that Jota who failed to score a “one on one” opportunity. Jonathan Kodjia came closest for Villa but his goal bound header was sensationally denied by Blues keeper Tomasz Kuszczak.
It is a football cliché but it’s a fact derby games are great levellers and form can and often does go straight out of the metaphorical window. Managers will often trot out that it’s just another game and they will be focused on just winning! However’ they don’t even believe it as they are saying the words.
This is more than just another league game with three points at stake. There is also the bragging rights for fans and believe me the winning players will also be walking taller the next day.
We all fully understand that for ninety minutes the players have to ignore the occasion and focus on the game plan and winning their own personal battles on the pitch. That is a tough ask in volatile red hot derby games and the players will have to show great mental strength to manage it.
Score a goal in a derby game and you are a hero forever with your fans however give away a needless penalty or score an own goal and you are the villain.
I really don’t care what the National media mafia say about the big North London, Liverpool and Manchester Derby matches, in my opinion the all Brummie derby whether it is at Villa Park or St Andrews is as good as any in England. To be honest derby games rarely showcase genuine quality because of the fear of losing. However in terms of atmosphere, excitement, tempo, physicality, during the ninety minute emotional roller coaster ride Villa v Blues is one to savour.
As the game is debated and dissected post-match in the pubs, clubs, offices and factories and over the garden wall every goal, tackle, chance, shot, foul or referee’s decision will be magnified a hundred times in the eyes and minds of us fans because of the importance of the result.
The bookies make Villa odds on favourites to make it seven wins out of seven and looking at their recent league record and you can see why, but Blues have been much better recently with four wins and a draw from their last six league games. It promises to be a cracking game and if you are lucky enough to be there just enjoy the occasion, be loud and proud and most importantly stay safe.
Oh and please NO CLAPPERS.