Writer: J P Fear
Date:Tuesday March 28 2006
Okay, so O'Leary is a bit of disaster at PR.
Let me pose this question . . . .
What would you accept as success from the Villa? By success, I mean reasonable happiness, renewal of season tickets, lack of general moaning, etc?
1. Contention for Euro Championship on a yearly basis
2. Contention for PL Championship on a yearly basis
3. Contention for CL Spot on a yearly basis
4. Contention for UEFA spot on a yearly basis
5. Top ten finish on an annual basis (read: finish between 5-10 position)
6. Avoid relegation battle annually (read: finish between 10-15 position)
7. Annual survival
8. Doesn't matter so long as we play with passion and purpose and give 100% effort
Now seriously, think about this list and define what you want. I know that a lot of folks were pretty irritated at strings of top ten finishes over the past few years, angered that we weren't 'taking the next step'. So stop for a moment and think about what the Villa could do to leave you all warm and fuzzy. Okay? Done?
Now, looking at that list, I would say that under Doug Ellis there isn't a manager, alive or dead, who could attain any of those top 3, and I'd argue that the 4th choice would be in there too, because that would be applicable only in those 'best' years, when the stars align and such. So, for my money, 1-4 are not possible under Doug, even if Shankley, Clough, Chapman, Busby and anyone else you may care to mention were all cloned together into a sort of uber-manager.
I'm also going to drop #7, cause I doubt that any Villa fan get all warm and fuzzy from finishing 15th to 17th. And frankly, I'll drop 8 too, because anyone on this list who tells me relegation is acceptable as long as we play with passion and purpose is either drunk or lying (and perhaps both).
That leaves me with 5&6. And, I'll tell you now that if you will genuinely be content with either of these, on an annual basis, for the foreseeable future, then these are achievable under Doug. And, that, barring weirdness, like takeover speculation or unusual injury problems or whatever, it is down to the manager to make these happen. For my nickel, O'Leary is sufficiently decent a manager to handle getting us to #5. I think that is what he promised, and though he will not make it this year, I think that there has been enough weirdness this year to grant him a waiver.
Now, I agree wholeheartedly that the football on display this year has been more or less wretched. And I agree that O'Leary couldn't charm a wet paper sack. And, both of these are reasonable complaints about the man. So, perhaps we can get a manager who is more cuddly the DO'L and perhaps we can get a manager who can play prettier football than DO'L.. But in the end, we will still be finishing somewhere between 5th and 15th, and there will be much complaining.
So seriously, think about what you want from Villa. Think about what keeps Villa from doing whatever it is you want. Then make the appropriate change. For my money, when one is has massive coronary artery disease, it isn't the best idea to have that nose job done while waiting for the cardiologist to get to you. So, O'Leary might as well stay. I want to finish annually between first and fifth. And at this point, the obstacle between me and that is not named O'Leary, it is named Ellis. No point getting a decent manager when we still pay only for mediocre personnel.
By Jeff Ray
Date:Tuesday March 28 2006
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