Writer: J P Fear
Date:Monday July 21 2008
You can certainly tell it is summer, not by the sun but because there seems a great deal of frustration and doom and gloom doing the rounds at the moment!
It seems to be the way with Villa and more importantly Villa fans during the transfer windows. We all remember the promises not always delivered by the previous regime (nice way to put it I hope you agree as I'm not wanting to open up old wounds or start the Ellis debates up again!?) We remember managers moaning that players had to be sold before we could buy or that with 'just that little bit more' money we could do things. Who could forget being top of the league under John Gregory and having Brazilian Jouninho at the club, only for the transfer to not go through. Ooooooh the 'what if's' that followed that fiasco! We remember being told we were a big club but seeing us really going nowhere, or nowhere but backwards.
So then we have the current situation. We have a billionaire owner who has proved he is a class act (in my opinion anyway) by coming in and improving what needed to be improved and honouring the history and tradition of this fine club. However there remains a question mark over the money spent. Dean Saunders (a Villa hero of mine and many other readers I'm sure) was commentating for Setanta Saturday night and he couldn't believe the lack of numbers we have in the squad and the fact we had some kids on the bench as there weren't enough senior players. His conclusion appeared to be despite the talk of much riches at the club, there is little evidence of it. My opinion is you have to look at the manager not the owner. This isn't an anti Martin O'Neill article, far from it, I don't want the manager merry go round and do want to see what he can do for us. However I am questioning why the money isn't being spent. For years we had managers wanting money and a chairman not wanting/able to supply it, now we have a chairman with money and a manager seemingly reluctant to spend! (And before I get slated, there is NO reason why this club does not have a right-back or why we sold one - Aaron Hughes - if no replacement was available).
The money wasn't spent last summer after promises from the former CEO Richard FitzGerald, who I know regretted talking about 'world class signings' the moment the words left his mouth! And last January, whilst Villa were riding high, we bought just one player - Wayne Routledge - who then wasn't used! So I can understand why some are saying that MON hasn't got the money. Trouble is what do we want the chairman and board to do? Do we really want them to start buying the players FOR the manager? No, it would never work and if some rumours are to be believed, it didn't work under Dougy boy with Stan Collymore or David Ginola! One former Villa boy commented (in private hence no names) that it takes balls to make top signings, MON proved he had them when paying what everyone said was over the odds for Ashley Young (funny how no one is saying that now isn't it?!) but then we have the flipside where the likes of Salifou, Routledge and Harewood are brought in for little money and little risk. Basically, I'm told, that is the comfort zone for transfers.
I must also point out, where some are saying the manager isn't being backed, that MON has said himself the money is there but he won't be rushed into buying players for the sake of it. IF the money wasn't there, I am sure he'd say so, afterall it is his reputation on the line and he didn't suffer fools gladly during his very short stay at Norwich!
I had a poll suggestion the other day, unfortunately I didn't note the sender although I think it was Graydon (so apologies if I have that wrong!). He was asking: Given the low key transfer activity to date, should the club - tell us what we can afford - and what we can't ? - I know the club line is that detailing your budget - means selling clubs raise asking prices - but as we aren't meeting asking prices - this is no longer a valid excuse. Option 1 is : Yes - The club should reveal what is affordable Option 2 is : No - this will not help us. I think the question is more suitable to this article than a poll as in my opinion the club can't really come out and say what money is about, although a clear statement from MON about how he sees the re-building as going, what his vision is and how much backing he has from the board might well at least answer that side of things? Communication, it seems, is still not our forte at Villa, probably it is the same at most other clubs as well but to be frank, other clubs don't interest me. Right, I didn't like being frank, I'll go back to being me, that experiment was short lived.
We also have non executive director General Charles Krulak, who has toughed it out this summer on the four message boards he frequents, including ours Click Here having to deal with the constant questions about the transfer window that he constantly and rightly says is not his department! However he has drawn the line several times when it has been suggested that the money isn't there or the manager isn't being backed.
He said recently, 'I really do NOT get involved in transfers. What I do know is what I have said on this forum many times. MON does NOT have to sell players to buy players. Randy has NEVER said no to a request for money from MON...NEVER...EVER. If a player does not come to Villa, it is not because we have not made a 'good' offer. BELIEVE ME, we are out after players! Those players must make sense to MON's scheme and what he feels is right for our dressing room. Do NOT expect Randy to start 'picking players' for our Manager. That would be a disaster.'
I don't think things can be stated much clearer than that.
Over to Mr O'Neill to bring in what we need and after so many more left at the end of last season and with Gareth Barry seemingly looking desperate to end his total nightmare of being Villa captain and hero to many, it looks like we need 10 players at least! And yes, 6th last season with a limited squad was good, as the players have said recently we can't ride our luck on injuries again though, re-enforcements are crucial. Just imagine, 6th with a threadbare squad, where would we have finished if last summer the transfer window had born the fruits of the money available?! The Champions League, at times last season, was in our grasp if not for the want of a few top quality players and options from the bench, will the promised land be in our grasp again this season and will we have at least part of the missing bits to the puzzle in place to seriously get there?
Interesting times, lets hope come kick off we are all smiling. Darn it, I'm sure I said that last summer.
Date:Monday July 21 2008
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