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The Villa Honeymoon Is Over

I have remained steadfast in my belief all summer that Martin O'Neill would deliver but I've got to hold my hands up. Something has gone terribly awry in the last 4 weeks that has given me grave doubts about the future. Our already small squad is decimated and we are totally unprepared for a long, hard season. We had the spotlight on us this summer - a lot of players and a lot of other clubs were watching us closely to see exactly what kind of muscle we have under the new regime. Not just financially but also an increased ability to be able to lure the top players to come and play for us.

The simple truth is we haven't punched our weight.

I agree with one of the posts above that states there are very few players who have moved this summer that I envy other clubs of signing, and if they are weren't Mon's targets then it's irrelevant anyway. However, what I find totally unacceptable, if not drastically negligent, is selling before replacing on the scale we have. If players like Aaron Hughes and Steven Davis were allowed to leave and players were lined up that have fallen through (which I believe could well have been the case), that's forgivable up to a point. That's the way it goes some times and life isn't always fair. But we don't appear to have learned from these instances because last week we've sold another player (Liam Ridgewell) before replacing him. Now if we can bring in Curtis Davies, that would be very good news as he would be improving us in that position. But until his services are secured, why have we agreed to let a player who can still step in and do a very competent job for us go?

I find it absolutely mystifying and I'm at a total loss as to explain our strategy in the transfer market now. It's not just the lack of the kind of signings we all hoped for - it's as much about our suicidal willingness to keep selling off our assets with no apparent sign of replacements in sight. MON has dug an almighty hole for himself over the course of this summer, and it gives me absolutely no pleasure to say this because I love the man and believe he was the best choice to take over the team last year, but at the moment he seems intent on only digging that hole deeper.

The honeymoon period is over.

Last season was one of transition - this year it's about results. We're not going to win the league and we're probably not going to break the top four. But anything less than UEFA Cup qualification this year (and that means as low as 7th place) has to be considered failure. At the end of last season, there was nobody outside of the top five that was not within catching distance. Everton, Bolton, Blackburn, Portsmouth, Reading - solid sides with a couple of particularly good players. With the right additions, there's no reason we couldn't be going into this season confident of overtaking these clubs. The opportunity has been there. The resources are there. We have every right to ask why we haven't made those necessary additions but either way, failure to catch these teams cannot be seen as an acceptable return for this season. That is a realistic ambition and its high time we start holding our club accountable to results.

If we finish 10th this season, some will say that's progress over our 11th place finish last year. Well, technically it will be. But it won't be good enough. We have got to compete. We say we're a big club and we have to start acting like one. Everything's coming together off the field but it means nothing if you don't get it right on the pitch. Last season, it wasn't Mon's team. He didn't have a summer to prepare the squad. He had to work with what he had. He's now had plenty of time to make this HIS squad and whatever money he spends between now and the end of the transfer window, MON has to deliver this season. There are no more reasons or excuses why we can't be going into this season to compete. It's as simple as that.




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The Journalist

Writer: alec Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Thursday August 9 2007

Time: 5:48PM

Your Comments

I give up. What is the point?
Dannygav
there is a simple but very painful explantion. MON doesn't have the money - if he says he does he is only doing this to protect his relationship with the chairman
qKing
I don't believe that for a second qking, the money is there, I've looked these people straight in the eye and been told that, I would back their integrity and honesty and would personally be totally shocked if it proved to be otherwise, in fact that would the end of my association with Villa. Like I say, I don't believe that to be the case, Randy is not here to just be an also ran, there would be no point or if he was, they would have been far clearer as to the ambitions. MON is notorious amongst Celtic fans for his transfer window activities!
The Fear
dannygav, the point is its Villa, they might break our hearts, but they are still 'ours' !!!! Lets just cling to the hope that we do bring in some quality signings, if not it will be a long hard season, or a tough run up to the next transfer window at least!
The Fear
God article alec. I think we are all as mystified as you at MON allowing so many players to leave before he signed replacements.
jonah
ok - thefear - but just suppose for a minute he doesn't have the money............wouldn't that explain EVERYTHING' ?
qKing
Time to go and get the depresion pills again ughh
Christo
Can anyone explain,if he has the money to buy players,what his plan was? Because all i`ve seen is players leave/not replaced which leaves us unprepared for this season.Plus his inane ramblings lately have confused the **** out of me!
ASPINALL
He has the money but I think his targets might of been unrealistic
Christo
MON wants the players he wants and we just have to trust him. Is there another option? I can live with the selling before buying thing but I'm really surprised we only have two signings just two days before the season starts. Any new signings will have to bed in and that takes time. AND NO RIGHT BACK!!! We've all known about that for SO long now... Very frustrating.
VillaYamYam
It's the RB situation that bugs me most. Today it's rumoured that we've put in a 3mill bid for Liam Rosenior, the England U21 RB at Fulham. Why's it taken so long to make an approach? I just don't understand we.ve not had a permanent RB since Bardsley took over from Hughes last January. There must be more than one RB he could have gone for, surely.
villacross
Frustrating is the understatement of the summer but now is the time to dig in. Yep he got it wrong and we will have to pay for this over the season if we get injuries etc, but come on guys lets build up for Saturday
LITTLE 77
Christo, you may have hit the nail on the head, maybe the lack of european football has been our undoing, but the fact is none of us know what has gone on, perhaps we never will, frustrating indeed but I still have faith in what our team can accomplish this season.
steff_the_villan
ive seen us linked to certain players and if they were on his shortlist those players have go to teams like Real Madrid and Liverpool and if we were after them am happy Martin is going after those sorts but maybe he might have to just lower the types because those guys will only go to world class teams and were not a world class team yet.
Christo
Quality article, sums it all up really.
Cubos
Not really qking, because why build Bodymoor (it was on hold, this was paid for by randy I believe) why pay for Petrov and Young (again, out of his own pocket I believe) and why say the money is there. Also, is MON a liar? I don't think for a minute he is and he has said repeatedly that the money is there. If it wasn't I would assume he would walk out due to the fact there would be / is untold pressure on him and for many he is getting the blame for not spending (if that makes sense!)
The Fear
nor me villacross - what on earth was wrong with luke young at 4m ? -
qKing
Can't really see why Hughes was sold, he wasn't a world beater but he was a right back until we got a world beater! Ho hum, it is the manager who will be judged and keep/lose his job for his actions, so it is up to him I guess.
The Fear
Just sack him now he's an idiot ffs and his glasses look stupid aswell
Pking
Yes fear, but ellis built things like new stands, aston villa leisure centre, stumps, - but that doesn't mean he was investing in the playing side. We have a refurbed pub (other recent taken over clubs are submitting multi million staduim plans)
qKing
its gone pearshaped as far as iam concerned, mon, randy, general pay attention !!!
Stig
qking, Ellis helped vandalise the trinity, sorry build the trinity I agree! That came from Villa's money, not his though. The difference with Randy is he has funded things, not a debt on the club. Our stands are good but with proper planning they would have been great. We built 4 seperate stands with Doug, the holte to be in sympathy with the Trinity, then the trinity was demolished and because he picked the wrong builders with the lowest tender, they went bust and he had to get his building firm involved. Hmmm, convenient. Not sure the pub has anything to do with it or that the club would claim that it has. MUCH better what they have done rather than let it crumble and go though, that was the first thing you saw when you walked up that way, a deralict building. They have been in one season, I think the changes are massive. Maybe in a couple of years we'll all be jumping for joy, maybe we won't. Only time will tell. But the money is there and the manager has to date let them down just in my humble opinion! Randy has already put in as much/more money into the club as Doug took out.
The Fear
Fear, I for 1 am with you on this. Why pay loads of money for Holte hotel and Bodymoor then not give money for players, this idea that Mon has no money to spend does not add up.
morky13villa
He does have money its just people poo stiring
Christo
I can understand people being suspicious, the promises are there and the excitement when the new boys came in was at fever pitch, but the chairman is willing and ready to spend but needs MON to target the players and not worry so much about the fact all the players at the moment are selling at silly prices. I know which I'd choose between manager and board at the moment but still hope MON ends up the business for us. On the fence at the moment, will see how the season develops, but he isn't helping himself with his quotes all through the season, signing before the pre-season, then before the tour, then next week during the tour etc etc!!
The Fear
The one thing that has and will remain constant - its out team and now is the time to get behind the mgr and players - everything else is secondary. The money is there. Thats all anybody needs to know. MON is the mgr let him manage. We'll judge him later but for now bring it ON
myleftfoot
our not out - fingers!!
myleftfoot
I believe the money is there but MON has badly misjudged the transfer market. Still, theres always January!
DeanoVilla
Although my previous post bemoaned the lack of a specialist right back, I'm actually really looking forward to Saturday. I think the first team is stronger, better prepared and more exciting than last season, even if the squad is down on numbers. Let's turn the Scousers over!
VillaYamYam
I can't see that the honeymoon is over, all that has happened is that O'Neill is just being O'Neill. Its part of the reason I get so much aggravation against my comments fans don't like the facts, they prefer the jam tomorrow excuses and an ideal of O'Neill that simply does not exist. He has a good knack of explaining away his foibles, and mistakes, but he still improves the squad and our results, that cannot be denied, he just doesn't do it the way I'd want and for me his thinking is more designed to a mid table club looking to achieve the best from limited resources. He'd be a perfect fit at Blackburn, Everton and Reading, Portsmouth or even Sunderland, Derby and Blues, where in each case I'm sure he would buy carefully and at the least consolidate their existence. I just happen to think under Lerner, Villa aren't that sort of club, we have a chance, it looks to me on lasts seasons performance we missed it, and although I'm sure we will move on again, we again will be missing out, now matter how well we do. Its an aggressive demanding league now in 2007, and you have to take every advantage you can to keep ahead, let alone to catch up. Going into the first match of the season, with several matches to follow quickly with the squad we have isn't, but I'd rather have O'Neill and Lerner than Taylor or O'Leary and Ellis in this situation.
avfc48
Very well written article Alec. Not over the top, or full of inaccuracies as has been the case with many posts made by supporters feeling frustration, and to a certain degree anger, at the summers lack of activity. I think you sum up perfectly the feelings and beliefs, concerns even, of most supporters, supporters who feel that no matter what happens between now and August 31st, we've still very much missed the boat, wasted a great oportunity to take that step up to the next level.
glensider
 

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