David - Its Over To You...
David O'Leary has had a dig at the fans in the press, or has he? Is he right, are we unrealistic? Might as well ask in a poll, have your say and let Vital Villa know if the fans are unrealistic or not!
O'Leary says that he has had letters from fans since taking over from Graham Taylor in 2004 saying they expect Champions League football. Well, how dare the fans have hopes and dreams?!
Hmmm, I seem to remember O'Leary criticising Taylor for finishing 16th with Villa, and yet we have languished all season in the lower part of the Prem.
He said 'I get people saying to me 'why haven't we signed player A or player B because we are Aston Villa?' I don't know what to say back because I think surely they must be sensible enough to know why we can't do that. I do get an awful lot of mail. I got stick during the January window for not buying this player or that player.'
Now I can't criticise a word of this, any realistic fan knows the limitations at Villa and that the problem lies with Doug Ellis. It isn't the managers fault if funds aren't available. However, O'Leary has been able to bring in a few high profile names such as Milan Baros. He also surely knew what he was coming to at the club? Or did the chairman lie to him to bring him to Villa? These are points we can only guess at. Lets face it, no manager has been able to prosper under Ellis, although few have done as badly as O'Leary has recently.
'But instead I had to send Eirik Bakke back to Leeds so you'd think they'd realise I couldn't buy anybody.'
Again, very true. The issue wasn't about the player, because most of us seemed to think that Bakke was poor and was always injured anyway, but the manager wasn't back in keeping 'his choice' and that is worrying when there were no other transfers in despite a very thin on the ground defence due to injuries. However, he has been backed with:
Milan Baros from Liverpool for £6.5m, Wilfred Bouma from PSV for £3.5m, Aaron Hughes from Newcastle for £1m, Kevin Phillips from Sunderland for £750 000 and Taylor from Arsenal for a similar sum. He also bought Martin Laursen from Milan for £3m. Unfortunately he picked up a knee injury very quickly (and there were rumours that he didn't have a scan before joining us despite his knee being suspect. I'm not sure if that is true or not). He wasted £1.35m on Djemba-Djemba from Manchester United and a further £2.9m on Mathieu Berson from Auxerre for £2.9million and then rarely played him. He was since sent out on loan to Lyon and is looking for a permanent move away from Villa.
O'Leary is right, the squad isn't the biggest in the Premiership and he has been unlucky with injuries. BUT he has sent the team out on many occasions with no fire in their bellies, no shape and no clear tactics. He plays long ball up to small strikers and then wonders at the lack of goals and he constantly talks down the club.
He continues 'I get a lot of people saying we have a fine stadium and we won the European Cup but I really don't know what that has got to do with 2006.'
It says that we are a proud club with a proud tradition. You may talk us down at every opportunity, the fans have more pride in the lions (gerrit?) and won't do that.
He said:'Last week we got a good point at Charlton yet I had fans saying 'we are Villa, why didn't we beat Charlton? Charlton have the same wage bill as us and we are competing for the same type of player.'
This can best be answered by a Charlton fan who said: Face it Dave - Villa is not a little club. Never has been - never will be. Villa? Small and plucky? In your dreams mate...' Full article: Click Here
O'Leary continues: 'It would help if there was a realisation among the fans, but I took the job here three years ago after the club had just avoided relegation and I remember getting a lot of letters. I got some letters saying 'congratulations on getting the job, we are Aston Villa, we expect to be in the top four by the end of the season'. I got loads of letters when we finished sixth - when I thought I'd done a great job - saying 'we've missed out on the Champions League'.
Fine, on our budget Champions League isn't a realistic option, clubs the size of us and Everton never succeed there do we? Oh, hang on....
'I remember at the time saying 'hold on, our budget is top 10, that's where we are. Our budget is for the top half of the Premiership and for the last two seasons that's where we've finished and it's where I want to be again.'
Ok, our budget is top ten. WHY AREN'T WE IN THE TOP TEN THEN? We've not troubled the top ten at all this season, if our budget is such, why not? Surely that is a failure on your part?
David, it's over to you.