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Villa Plan In Action?

Since the arrival of Martin O'Neill and then Randy Lerner, expectation levels amongst Villa fans have soared...and right fully so! After years of the Ellis era this was a new dawn, no-more penny pitching, no-more politics, no-more lack of ambition. We had a man who's reputation has had him linked with jobs at Newcastle, Man Utd and even England! A well respected man amongst players and other managers, surely the time for Villa to 're-born' was among us?

So what has MON brought to the club? Stability, structure? One thing he has done is brought back is 'team spirit' and we now have a team that will fight till the death and work for each other instead of on their own. Which moves us onto the transfer windows, hmmm....questionable to say the least, think its fair to say his best window thus far has January last year with the signings on Carew, Young and Maloney. Its clear to see that MON wants players who are hungry and are team players which is evident by his signings, mite not always be the best technically, but will work for the team! Its my belief that he has a list of players and that are the only ones he wants and will push & push until he can get them, sees them as the right player for the team which could be classed as admirable or daft! Admirable as he sticks to his principles and does want he feels is the best, daft as it could leave us a bit low on numbers like we kind of are now. The Wayne Routledge signing is classic MON, I feel he was on the list but not necessarily near the top.

His work with some of the players already here could be classed as hit and miss, as well as his own signings....hits being gabby, Laursen, young, Davies, Barry misses being Petrov, Sorenson, Cahill, Moore and the 'jury still outers' NRC, Maloney and at times, Carson.

He's come here with a 5 year plan, about the 4th in the last 10 years so its no wonder we're all frustrated! 1st season's finish there was progress, going into last summer was an exciting time to be a Villa fan with the expectation as well as other things done by the owner (who ill come onto in a minute, no not that way!) such as Bodymoor Heath and the re-branding of the club. The rumour mill was going top speed too which, as it turns out, hasn't helped one bit.

I refuse to believe that MON is an idiot who doesn't know what he's doing and seriously thinks our current squad is anywhere near good enough to mount a serious title or champions league challenge and will address this soon, that being said this transfer window just gone and to an extent the summer, have been disappointments. The signings of NRC and Knight, two whole hearted players who match the kind MON likes, one of them actually being a Villa fan! The signing of Routledge was, at first, seen as a 'he will or he won't' signing, on the cheap short contract, our way of saying 'its up to you now' if he wants to kick-start his career. A player who a couple or so years ago was put in the same bracket as Wayne Rooney as far as potential goes, the move to Spurs was his chance, a bad injury later and things didn't go to plan! Spells at Portsmouth and Fulham were, it seems, more reasonable than a success, MON has the knack of waking players up, this will either turn out to be excellent business or a waste of money and time. What you have to ask yourself is how far up the list was Routledge that took nearly the whole month to make a deal? Was it the fee? Was it the availability of money? Was it MON being...well...MON and leaving it late? Or did other options not work out so we had to go down the list a bit? The feeling now is that we don't have the money we thought we had! It's possible I suppose, very possible, however we've been told by a member of the board on our own forums that the money is there, so I take his word for that and say the manager is responsible for it, once again I feel the players he wants aren't now available, he might not like it but sometimes plan b's aren't a bad thing to have!

Waking up this morning at 2am & checking the official site was a let down as no-one else come in, apart from the 'keeper's permit not going through, seems these were the only two players on the radar! Talk of a new right back in the summer who 'is worth the wait' fell flat on its arse, its my belief that there was a right-back lined up but has since been made unavailable by their club. The sale of Gary Cahill has been met with mixed reactions, good price for someone who wasn't playing? Or a waste of a young talent who will 'make it' in the premiership? I'm undecided, think its a bit of both......time will tell of course, the last young talent MON sold (Steve Davis) turned out to the right move, think Cahill has a better chance though.

So where we are now, 5th in the league and a good chance of staying there 'if' we'd gone out and bought the right players to not only make the squad better, but the team! Will Routledge do this? Who knows, but if I were a betting man.......

The five year plan, I'm sure, didn't see us challenging for a champ's league place or possibly uefa at this stage, even the ex CEO said we were 2 years ahead of schedule! So if we don't make it and finish 7th 8th or 9th, technically this is still progress (compared to last season). The rebuilding of AVFC is sure taking its time though, I still have faith in MON and the board that they are taking us to the right places, one things for sure, if last summer was important....this coming one is Vital! (did you see what I did there?)

Onto the owner and board, Randy Lerner's take-over was THE reason why I renewed my season ticket for what's about the 12th year running. I can say now that if Ellis was still the owner, MON or not, I wouldn't have renewed, I could no longer stand to put my money is his pension and watch him run my club like a corner shop. In my eyes the new owner has been outstanding, the training ground is amazing, the new crest/rebranding (albeit thought it was crap at first) is excellent and we have at last a decent kit manufacturer in Nike! I'll be honest and say that I was close to doing a Tubbz (message board member who got fed up with the moaning. ed) the other day and not posting for a while as some of the remarks aimed at the board has been short of disgraceful and out of order IMO. The recent frustrations have all been born from the transfer window and the manager's actions, or lack of.....so to criticise the board, Randy Lerner especially, isn't on in my eyes. We're all entitled to our own opinions of course, but to have a go at the man is shocking, again IMO. No other clubs have a director who goes on fan's forums or a chairman that doesn't live in the limelight ala Doug Ellis, seems some have a lack of trust in them now for some reason?

The rest of the season could be a long one, some players aren't producing the goods and some need a rest, but with no-one really able to come in and make that difference (bar Maloney) it wont make much difference. I said a few weeks ago that this was such an important window which will make or break our chances of Europe that if we got the right players in we could do it, unfortunately that isn't the case, I just hope this doesn't bite us on the arse.

In summary we're on course and nearly there, I have faith in MON and the board especially, will be interesting to see what the General has to say about the recent resignation of Richard FitzGerald and the feelings of the transfer window though I think we all know the answer to that one! As well as any comments by MON and the lack of activity to strengthen this 'small squad'. If this is said again in the summer I have to say my confidence will be a bit lower.

Anyway, I'll shut up now.

benham




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The Journalist

Writer: Benham Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Friday February 1 2008

Time: 9:07AM

Your Comments

"Anyway, I'll shut up now." - Best thing you've said all day Mr Ham. LOL
DeanoVilla
Good article ham.
randy.stand
the problem is, too many fans have developed 'spoilt little kid' syndrome, people need to keep things in perspective - as you said we are 5th in the league on the 1st of feb, 2 points of 4th and Liverpool are below us. If someone had told me that in August i would have ripped their arm off, then ate it.
Stig
I agree...5th is a temporary position. If we finish in UEFA it's a successful season. Lets just hope Spurs lose in the final.
leelindsay
Cheers randy, and mr o....feck orf!! :D Stig you can get arrest for things like that
benham
Well said, we have a lot to be positive about so it isn't worth moaning about the minor things. The table doesn't lie.
Villan444
Perhaps now the window has closed we can get a bit of perspective.A fair summary of our current position. Well put.
Jon.H
It's difficult to know how much money we have for transfers at the moment as there is the impending 10M for Davies to pay out at the end of the season and I'm sure MON is going to make a late decision on Carson which could also be up to 10M. I think that Mellberg leaving at the end of the season stopped the search for a right back so he can see out his contract there. As you say - transfer dealings in the Summer will be key for us. Let's keep pushing on and hope to finish in 5th with our 5 England players I say!!!
melski
All fair comment benham. Thanks. On the transfer window thing, only the next couple of months will tell. On the optimistic side, we get no injuries or suspensions, keep getting results and we all laugh, slap ourselves on the back and say 'who needs a transfer window!' On the glass half empty side, key players like Barry, Laursen, Hokey, Gabby get injured/suspended, and we all throw up our hands in despair and say 'why didn't he bring in some cover in January!' We have to trust MON. And I do.
VillaYamYam
YamYam your right in if we can stay clear of injurys/suspensions we can make the push for 4th/5th! What worrys me is upfront, carew & gabby dont or didnt seem fit against blackburn, now i know we have marlong but i cant see moore giving his all seeing as hes virtally off in the summer! For me the 2nd stiker partnership will be harewood and maloney.
benham
Too many players being brought in to strengthen a squad can also disrupt a team, I''m a little disappointed at what we have done during the trnasfer window but I'd rather have no players than very average squad players. I think WR could be a shrewd little bit of business. What do we have to lose on this guy, he's 23 and has the ability to produce the goods. He has already expressed a desire to play for the club. Lets see what happens
PaulG
A few days ago I said here that I could see us bringing in only one new player, and so it proved. Although a little disappointed, I have no basis to criticise anybody for that. We can only speculate what the club's approach to transfers is and nobody can come on here and say they know what is really happening. What little snippets we have heard suggest to me that: - a lot of players do get looked at - there isn't a significant financial constraint (like a sell before you buy policy) - MON is very particular about what he considers the squad needs/how well individual players would fit into that - he is also quite clear about what is the right money to spend to fill a gap It feels like a slow build approach, getting the most out of a squad and selectively strengthening. In the "splash the cash" Premier League this can look like a lack of ambition or overcaution, but I think it's more subtle and positive than that. Where Spurs hoover up players and then spit most of them out again, Portsmouth give a new lease of life to waning stars, and Man City take full advantage of the EU's rules on the free movement of migrant workers, Villa are building from the inside out. The core of this team could stay together for years and I think MON is looking for the individuals who can be part of that approach. Only time will tell, but those of us who are here for the long term and not just a flash in the pan success in the next 18 months are looking forward to the journey.
Freelancelot
The reason for most of my disappointment is expectation. We have been hyped up to expect some signings by the contantant reference to our "small squad" from everone and particularly MON. To state that he is "working every day" to sign players and then only sign one, is a poor result for such an amount of effort. I sat there until midnight last night, probably like the rest of you, hoping for a last minute addition [or two] to the squad which we all know is short of numbers. In reality we have a pretty good 11, or maybe 13 that we can rely on to perform well [league table doesn't lie at this time of the year!]. Routledge, if he can play like Young(!), will give us the right midfielder we have needed and we have reasonable cover for most positions - I think Melly and Gardner can fill the right back role as we have seen. So, things aren't all that bad, and if we had been told not to expect signings [the Brad Guzan thing is poor management - why give the guy a two day trial if he can't get a work permit?!] then I don't think any of us would be anywhere near as disappointed as we are with the lack of activity. MON keeps his cards very close to his chest, and I'm sure the players he thought would improve us aren't available so there is no point buying just anybody as they won't get a game and may just upset the current best 11. So if we, and MON, can learn anything from the transfer windows [all of them] it is not too expect too much and we won't be disappointed! Then when we do sign the superstars, we will be pleasantly surprised! Easier said than done though - I fail every time!
AVGD
Good article, the sentiment of which I wholeheartedly agree with, an issue or two with the odd detail copncerning player success/failures, but thats not important. IMO, the major difference at Villa in comparison to many of our peer group clubs is that MON has TIME. Five years in fact, to get us to CL qualification, we are now almost a third of the way into that time frame. He has two thirds left, plenty of time to push on with squad development. ATM it seems he has shifted deadwood and is in the process of deciding to shift more deadwood, Cahill, Moore, Sorensen. While there is little movement in of young hungry players, this is probably due to availability issues as Benham says and possibly not wanting to disrupt the team too much as Paul mentioned. But surely the time will come when an influx of players arrives at VP. The luxury of time afforded MON allows him to be careful in the market and tog et the players with the correct attitude. While this approach is frustrating for us it means that potential dressing room problems are avoided. Also, it shows that MON has faith in the squad members on the fringes that have yet to play a major role. Maloney, Harewood, Izzy Ozzy, Gardner and possibly some of the younger players out on loan or in the reserves. More of these players will become involved as the season winds up and we can see if MON's faith is justified.
Jongekki
well hopefully MON will stop goin on about a 'small squad' because it is he down to him that it is small. Only 14 games left I think the squad is able to cope with that and as my mate said a team could have a huge squad and only have 2 or 3 players who were any good, we got a small squad and 5 england 'provisional' call ups, that shows the core quality we have
krisvilla
ssshhhh dont mention "5th" or "5 in the england squad" it upsets people :p PaulG made a point that i forgot too add (slaps self) in that, i feel, MON would rather have a "limited" squad than buy players who "will do" & that he doesnt feel really bring anything to the cause. Even knight & harewood, who im sure wouldnt be on everyones shopping lise, have made contributions. Only salifou is the puzzler signing but on a years deal, its obvious what thats all about
benham
Well said. ________________________________________________________________ Mr O'Neill is getting us there. In a few years time, these young lads will have been playing together for a few years, and will have a natural sense of each others style, and anticpation of where to pass. 3pts at Fulham please.
evoflash
you know what i'm happy and the old cliche of Rome wasn't built in a day, and even the earth took seven days, so Villa take 3-4 years, i'm just happy everyone is looking up rather than down, this club has had a new lease of life and is testament to MON/Randy for us being passionate about Villa getting back into europe. We are doin it without the young playes we got no where near peaking, imagine Young in 4 years time? put the *****s up any defence with his pace and the knowledge he's building now, I mean defenders don't like him now. Gabby he'll learn (may take a bit longer) he's not the sharpest tool in the box but which player is? Davies looks solid bit of experience in Laursen. I like this Villa team and aint we scored a lot of goals? we aint had so many goals for a long time. Here's to the future!
krisvilla
Well done Benham, definately one of my more favourite posters, too many people on here are either doom and gloom or living on cloud bloody nine!!!! At the end of the day there are negatives and positives to the clubs situation. And its okay to critise as long as you praise when things go well. Otherwise your just a moaner and vice versa for those blind people who think all is perfect. Far from it. Things are good but not perfect.
young_jonah
Things are never perfect I guess but we are moving upwards and building something which I feel could be very good. I agree I think MON has his list of players and it takes a lot to shift him from that. In that way he is like Fergie who waited two years for Hargreaves the trick MON has to achieve though is keeping the team moving forwards while he waits for his targets to come available. If the young players we have reach their potential then we could have a very good team which will win things not just qualify but it is about players getting there. I think MON is trying to do a sort of British version of what Wenger does with young French players. If it works we will all be happy and to have 5 young players in the England squad is a good start. I am also happy as we have a lot to be proud of and future that promises to be exciting.
daveldvilla
FINALLY - a posting with common sense and seemingly intelligent thought put into it. Great sentiments and a good realistic perspective. To all the moaners: STOP READING THE BLOODY TABLOIDS and you wouldn't get so hyped up on the garbage they spew!! Final thought: Ron Saunders and Tony Barton were VERY lucky with injuries (14 players used) - or were they just VERY good at training players so that they stayed injury free? I'll go with the latter and apply it to MON and his staff......
gmvillan
I'm a moaner - we should have made more impact in the window. Punching above our weight and needed some re-inforcements.
Gazvilla
We can all moan but MON will things his way, and he won't ask us and why should he and he is the one that matters not us. We don't punch above our weight though the table after 24 games is pretty much spot on and new players only if they add quality otherwise whats the point.
daveldvilla
Good article Benham. Well balanced, but constructive in its basis. You make some interesting and valid observations, and this article should be made compulsive reading for all Vital Villa members.
glensider
Agree with daveldvilla. MON has got us this far, shouldn't we trust in his judgement and know-how to see just how far it takes us this season. Top eight would still be a plus for me, after what has gone on for the past ten years or so pre-MON.
glensider
 

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