During Gary Gardner’s loan move to Birmingham City, the midfielder has seemingly taken the club to heart on social media. Would Villa fans ever truly accept him back at Villa Park?
Words by Matt Blog (@Blogg_Matt)
Gary Gardner was loaned out to Villa’s greatest rivals in the Summer and has now played first team football for both Villa and Birmingham, strangely like his brother. Gardner has always expressed love for Villa and has been involved with the club for many years without ever sealing a first team spot, so once his loan across the road has ended, could the midfielder ever be accepted back at Villa Park?
There is an argument for both sides here. Yes, because he is just doing his job and convenience-wise, a loan to Birmingham does make a lot of sense. But no, because of the way he has taken Birmingham City to heart and really a become a part of their club. The Villa fans will always be split on topics like this, but really I find it quite petty to shut him out because he has been loaned to our rivals. No it isn’t nice to see a self-proclaimed Villa fan enjoying life at Birmingham City and becoming a popular figure, but if he was to come back and earn a first team spot at Villa (however unlikely that looks now with the quality in our midfield) it would be incredibly petulant to boo or disrespect him when like any other footballer who has played for more than one team, he will always just give 100% for whatever shirt he is wearing. I’m sure there would have been some fans who didn’t agree with the appointment of Bruce because of his Birmingham links, or McCleish because of his, but when they were a part of Aston Villa, the only club they would have cared about is Aston Villa, and this will be the same with Gary Gardner. Right now his focus is Birmingham, but come the Summer he will be fully focused once again on Aston Villa (unless Blues decide to take him off our hands for good).
Loaning Gardner to Birmingham might have raised a few eyebrows originally, but if you think about it properly it makes a lot of sense. He wouldn’t have had to move house or relocate/move away from his family, he knows the area inside out, they were offering him genuine first team opportunities which Villa couldn’t offer him, and they were serious about developing him as a footballer, so why would he turn that down? The majority of fans warmed to Heskey when he joined and to Bruce in his difficult season last year, so I see most Villa fans being able to welcome Gardner back. The only concern about bringing him back for most fans would probably be for his development as a footballer rather than his new-found links to Birmingham.
Of course you will get some fans who struggle to see past the fact that he is simply playing for Birmingham, but these will be the same fans suggesting that Grealish doesn’t play against Derby so there isn’t a risk of him missing THE Derby. The game at Pride Park is more important to our season than the Birmingham game, so thinking like this is very strange in my opinion, and refusing to accept Gardner back at Villa Park would be just as bizarre for me. I accept that I may be too generous in some people’s eyes, as I would have Delph back in a heart-beat while I know many fans wouldn’t, but past is past and when you are a part of Villa, you wouldn’t be focusing on anything else.
So I would say yes, Gary Gardner will be accepted back at Villa park should he find himself in the Villa team again, because his Birmingham links are short, and he is simply doing his job. He has thought about his family and his football development over anything else, like any footballer would and should, so in my opinion it is wrong to change your opinion on him completely just because of a loan move. He may be a blue right now, but when your job is playing for Aston Villa, you will be 100% focused on Aston Villa.