Monday, 16 March 2009

Villa fans should hang their heads in shame

There's no denying that Aston Villa fans have reason to complain at the moment. After looking like they were perfectly at home occupying a Champions League spot several weeks ago, Martin O'Neill's team has allowed an Arsenal side growing in confidence to steal fourth position.

However, no matter how angry Villa fans are at the situation, there is no excuse which can even begin to justify the behaviour which was on show at the weekend. Sections of the Aston Villa crowd vocally criticised Gabriel Agbonlahor, the young star who has flourished under the leadership of O'Neill this season.

The player was substituted in the second half of the match against Tottenham, which Villa eventually lost 2-1, and this tactical move from the manager was greeted with cheers and ironic chants. Agbonlahor has since insisted that this does not bother him, revealing that he has become accustomed to such treatment and stating that he cares little for what others think about his game.

However, Martin O'Neill has been strong in his criticism of the fans who decided to boo the player, stating that "Gabby's been fantastic" for the club and booing such a player is not the right way to act in the slightest.

Agbonlahor may not have been in the goals recently and the team may have been stuttering where before they were running riot, but nobody can doubt the effort put in by the young star. His early to mid-season form was a key factor in propelling the side up the table and Aston Villa fans are displaying an extremely unattractive and fickle side of themselves by behaving in such a manner.

The fact is that Aston Villa could string together a couple of good results from this point, Agbonlahor could bag a couple of goals, Arsenal could slip up in a manner which has become characteristic this season, and Villa could find themselves heading towards elite European competition once again.

If this happens, Agbonlahor will no doubt be worshipped by the fans in the terraces but Villa fans must be careful. Players do not easily forget the way they are treated by their fans, particularly if there is no good reason lying behind their criticism. If the club isn't careful, stars such as Agbonlahor may decide to look for a team with fans which do not boo their precious young talent for no apparent reason.

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