Season 2021/2022, Coutinho magic turns an embarrassing loss into a celebration

My transfer elation in last week’s column was rewarded with a team performance that ticked all the boxes, save one.  Obviously, a first home win against Man U in eons, would have made the game perfect.  Still, to come from 2-0 behind in the last 15 minutes, with your prize acquisition first manufacturing an assist and 4 minutes later bursting through the Man U defense to blast a shot past a diving de Gea to tie the game, had Villa fans at Villa Park and around the world ecstatic if for no other reason than it took the smirk off Bruno Fernandes’s face.

That little bit of schadenfreude soon passed, but for, this fan, it was replaced by a feeling that this bus is going to make it to its destination.  The owners and the rest of the organization – not least Steven Gerrard – are committed to getting our VIllans into European soccer. Sensibly, they do not put a timeline on it, realizing they cannot control all the variables.  However, adding Phillippe Coutinho and Lucas Digne to the roster a day apart takes the team to another level.

It is tempting to go back over the prior games of this season to count the ways that each tied, or lost, game could have had (or would have had) a different result with these two in the line-up.

With both players still in their twenties and with a combined 106 caps for their countries (63 for Coutinho and 43 for Digne), these are elite players even within the Premier League.

Each came into a pressure-filled contest against a Man U team loaded with talent itself, with barely a few hours of team training and were outstanding.  Digne did not put a foot wrong in 90 minutes of play and created a golden opportunity for Buendia, while Phil (as Gerrard likes to call him) put on a master class in how to create opportunities and score.

Almost as exciting was to see how Jacob Ramsey and Carney Chukwuemeka responded to the infusion of brilliance.  Both participated in the scoring, and oozed confidence as they did it.

Common sense tells us that this is no guarantee of us winning any particular game, such as exploiting the imploding Toffees this Saturday morning.  Still, I certainly like our chances against Everton and in the five fixtures that follow.


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