Off The Ball: Tim Sherwood has put life back into Villa after near-death experience
Published 13/05/2015 | 02:30
In an early episode of 'The Sopranos', Tony is so depressed that he's virtually slipped into a comatose state when two hitmen attempt to shoot him, and, suddenly, he's jolted into life for the first time in days. It took an actual brush with death to snap him out of his funk.
That's been my experience as an Aston Villa fan this season.
Fair enough, being a Villa fan isn't quite as serious a problem as being a fictional mafia boss fighting depression and getting shot, but it certainly has its similarities.
Ever since the all-too-brief hint of Champions League qualification in the Martin O'Neill era, supporting Villa has been about as exciting as a Jim Gavin press conference ahead of a Leinster quarter-final against Longford or Offaly.
You try to hang in there for as long as you can, but through the years of Gerard Houllier, Alex McLeish and Paul Lambert, it was tough to care.
Then, out of nowhere, apathy was replaced by a very real fear. We could not score a goal to save our lives and were going to be relegated.
Instantly, my lifelong support for the club mattered again. I might not have cared before but at least they were always going to be there. Now this was in danger and I was back in, in a big way. Since then, I've watched virtually every game, and it's been incredibly rewarding.
The Tim Sherwood circus has made Villa interesting again.
We've seen the emergence of Jack Grealish, the goals of Christian Benteke, the Lazarus-like return of Shay Given, an FA Cup run all the way to the final and, most likely, Premier League safety.
It's the most exciting the club have been in 20 years. I'm sure next year, it'll all be back to normal. They'll sell Benteke and finish 12th, without anyone noticing.
But I'm back in. They've earned that.
Every football supporter needs a good relegation scrap every now and then, just to jolt you back to life and help you remember why you love the game so much.