Date:Friday August 10 2007
I'm well known for my less than positive views on O'Neill, and while I gain encouragement that many have over the last season seen the light where he is concerned I think it only fair to say that with the new
season about to kick off tomorrow, I'm a more relaxed Villan than I have been for many, many a season start.
The loss of Ellis and his list of managers, his ever changing team, his jam tomorrow, never achieved promises are all gone. In its place is an ever improving club with a great owner and reliable manager.
Last season start Ellis' influence still affected the club as did the previous two managers tactics and teams. O'Neill just about managed, thanks to some spectacular backing from Lerner in January, to stabilise
the ship enough for us to stave off a relegation fight and enable a startling finish up to 11th.
Whilst I'm not at all happy with the transfer situation through this summer, O'Neill has virtually achieved his objectives, I'd guess. He has removed those he does not feel will do a good enough job for him. The jokers from the past are all gone along with some I'd have kept, players he felt he couldn't motivate, nevertheless.
Again we are left with a paper thin squad, but one which is better than its been for 5 even 7 seasons, and one which has shown using negative tactics can survive if nothing else. Whilst I'm sure every other clubs fans are confident their squads have been improved for them to be 'safer' next season, few will be thinking they have improved enough to make huge moves upwards either.
I know our squad isn't as well prepared as it could be, its not as good as it could be, its most certainly not as big as it needs to be yet and I have doubts even when these oft promised signings do arrive it will still be large enough. But, last season the team coped with players like Agathe, Sutton, then Bardsley, without Laursen from day 1, with Kiraly for several games, and with Bouma, McCann, Hughes, and Mellberg often on the injury table.
This season the table is one of the best in the Premiership,it will need to be, but the team that kicks off tomorrow is better than the one that finished in May, and it will get better soon. Its not what I expected, its far, far poorer than I'd wanted, but its good enough and its not stagnating, the trend is still up. How high depends on the next 3 weeks and how quickly new players fit in.
Date:Friday August 10 2007
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