Writer: J P Fear
Date:Monday January 15 2007
Martin O'Neill has spoken candidly about Villa and the fact the fans are still not returning in the numbers they would like to support the team. Seems he realises Villa fans have seen one to many false dawns and are looking for positive signs. Just wish, no matter what they have to charge, the offers were put out to get the place sold out. The offer for season ticket holders to bring their friends for £5 to the Watford game was a great one but it was limited to 2000 fans only, WHY? Just sell them, get the place rocking, remind fans what they are missing, then when the 'product' is right on the pitch, they'll pay what is required and have the bug once again.
O'Neill admitted: 'You can see that we still have a lot of work to do in terms of impressing those people yet who are thinking that they have seen it all before, and that this is a false dawn. We still have to convince an extra 10,000 or 12,000 people still to come to some of these games.'
'People find reasons for not coming to the games anyway. It might be because it is expensive, it might be because the product might not be good enough, or whatever. It is up to us to try and I think that is really part of the excitement of getting them to come to the games. I am not going to go into the minds of people, they will have their reasons. If the product isn't good enough, they will stay away.'
Adding: 'It is up to us to improve the football to such an extent that we are winning and winning with a bit of panache. That's what we aim for, but it doesn't happen every single week. When you have great players playing, you can play with a bit of panache to win games - and that's what it's up to us to try to do.'
I must admit I totally disagree with him here though, with no real star names left O'Neill has cast doubt on whether it takes 'big players' to bring the fans back. Who was our last 'great' player? Paul Merson maybe? He left how long ago? Now who do we put up as true star class? Difficult isn't it? I know my nephew asks who our stars are and it is a struggle. I think Gareth Barry is a top midfielder and with the right players around him think that Baros would be a star, but..... ?
On big name players being required, O'Neill says: 'That shouldn't always be the case. Manchester United eventually built a side on young kids coming through and that still didn't stop them from getting crowds.' adding 'But United are United. Here, we have a hard core of fans and a group of fans, whichever way you say it, who are still to be convinced. 'That is part of the whole thing, eventually you are hoping, in time, that you do convince them.'
On top of the kids who came through, lets make no mistake, they had stars in the team and those kids also WERE stars as we all found out over the following ten years. Fans need heroes and at the moment heroes are very much in short supply. The thing is, Villa are not a Leicester City, we are so much bigger and we are used to stars in the team, we are also used to good honest hard working professionals, but we DO need star names and that is the only way we will every truly re-claim our place in the top four or five teams in the Premiership. We've had years of an almost baron wasteland, we want and deserve spoiling, we want to be excited and entertained... or am I wrong?
As my mate just said, 'we want the glamour, limelight and a bit of razzamataz down at Villa Park, we need that to get the buzz back and to get it we need a few stars to put us onto the edge of our seats and set the place alight' adding in a panic of worry 'have they really forgotten how much we like a star down at Villa Park?'
Meanwhile Gabby Agbonlahor has called on the Villa fans to turn up and play their part for the Watford game.
'We need the fans out in force for the Watford game. The fans mean a lot and they helped us in the second-half on Saturday. Hopefully we'll have a big crowd behind us on Saturday. I wouldn't say Watford was a must-win, but we've got to go into it looking for three points. We've just got to get some results.'
Kids for a quid anyone?
Date:Monday January 15 2007
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