What Way Now, Mr Chairman? (Villa)
I understand that Mr. Ellis stated in his programme notes yesterday, that 'we are moving in the right direction'. That he can make such a statement at the end of David O'Leary's third season, the trend of which sees us going very much downwards, is very much asking us to laugh - but not in humour; more from a desparate 'when is this charade going to end?' cynicism.
Mr. Ellis' declaration that he's fit and working hard also fills me with some trepidation. But, I have somehow taught myself to reason that if we had a good manager - and we've had a few good ones over the last 20 years - he would hide the weaknesses of the chairman by signing decent players and moving our team to do praiseworthy things on the pitch. After all, as fans, why should we spend so much negative energy in worrying about what's going on in the boadroom if it's quite good on the pitch, and with an odd trophy thrown in, or European football?
Well, need I say any more about what we have at the club now? It appears to me that 'the manager' is eager to want Mr. Ellis as his adopted father, and appears to have ingratiated himself into the chairman's 'club', at the expense of the fans and the welfare of the club. Visions of Nero fiddling whilst Rome burnt. Can the secenario be much worse? And what can be done about it? I don't know the answer to the last question. It appears to me that a club takeover is the only solution, but who wants to pay £64m? I don't see any takeover taking place between now and August - Mr. Ellis' price has seen to that.
So, what is the next season likely to offer? It really is anyone's guess as Mr. Ellis sits at the traffic lights pondering the direction signs. The most cynical view is that relegation is the likely outcome. However... if the first month or two sees Villa lying in the bottom four or five, I somehow feel that even Mr. Ellis will think that his adopted son cannot do more, and will be shown the door. At great expense.
Scenario 2 is that Villa will rise from the ashes and win a Cup - as happened after the very close relegation call in 1955-56. No chance of a high league finish but just enough done to keep Mr. O'Leary in a job. It'll be 50 years since we last won the F.A. Cup, so now is the time to do it again - at the new Wembley. I don't see a third scenario.
I somehow feel that secenario 2 is 'on'. Yesterday's team selection seems to indicate where next year's team will be coming from, though I feel that Angel (and Baros) will have gone. We do have two desparate signing needs - the first is to sign Milner permanently, and an experienced centre-half. Laursen might still be the answer to that latter need, but we will have to wait till September or October before we know the outcome on him. Yes, we do have the need for signings to cover more than those positions, but I cannot see significant ones coming in. It looks as though Mr. Ellis always did see the future lying in the youth talent coming through, and, with luck, he might at least be partly right. At 25, Gareth Barry has shown the way - Captain Marvel!
Now, Doug, if we are moving right, then PLEASE put on the right trafficator!
By John Lerwill