Date:Monday July 16 2007
Why are so many fans getting annoyed that Aston Villa are in talks with West Ham's out-of-favour (and form) striker Marlon Harewood? The reaction of many this afternoon has been nothing short of stunning.
Marlon Harewood may not be the best striker in the world but the best strikers in the world would never agree to be squad players, and that is exactly what Martin O'Neill needs at the moment. Not the cream-of-the-country, but players to make up the numbers who will help in the season long war of attrition.
When Nigel Reo-Coker, a far superior player to Harewood in practically every way, signed it should have been clear that not every other summer transfer was going to have the same "Yippee" factor. Perhaps some fans thought Randy Lerner and Martin O'Neill were going to replace the players who left - players who were, by and large, woeful - with £10million-plus signings. That was never going to happen.
Amusingly, Harewood has not even signed yet. He is merely in talks with Martin O'Neill. The striker has already chatted to Wigan, and if they offer him the chance of more first-team action then surely he'll go there. He has to go somewhere, after all, as he has made it clear that his time at West Ham is over. So he needs Villa far more than Villa needs him.
But the talk of fans sending their season tickets back, and comparisons between David O'Leary and Martin O'Neill, and even Randy Lerner and Doug Ellis, would be laughable if they were not so worrying. Signing a player such as Harewood for back-up purposes is clearly a step forward - under O'Leary and Ellis, Harewood would have joined as a first-choice striker, and possibly the best signing of the season.
However, to add a disclaimer...If I am completely wrong and Harewood (assuming he signs!) is used as a first-choice striker, or if he is the second best summer signing, behind Reo-Coker, come the end of the transfer window, then my opinions may change. They won't change much. I'll still back the boss, back the board and back whoever is wearing the famous Claret and Blue. We're Villa fans, after all, and we won't leave them like rats deserting a sinking ship.
And on that subject, if Harewood does sign then any fan who boos him at Villa Park should be banned for life. Sure, some may say "I paid my money, I can do whatever I want" (though that seems to be singing about a club that I don't want to hear about for 90 minutes) but we've all seen Villa lose matches because the shameful actions of the "fans" have disturbed the players.
Another two signings apparently set to be unveiled soon are Luke Young and Anthony Gardner. Personally, I don't rate either as first-team players but as back-up players they'll be ideal. Once again, under O'Leary and Ellis they would start every game - more proof that we've moved on.
Once those two have signed, assuming they do and Harewood does as well, we'll have three decent-level back-up players on the books and a classy midfielder in Reo-Coker. Then the real fun can begin as the ever-canny Martin O'Neill signs the players who will make us shout "Yippee"!
When that happens, we can all look back on today and laugh. Even those who have made comments about the board and management that should never, in all honestly, be made by true fans of our great club...
Keep The Faith and Up The Villa!
Date:Monday July 16 2007
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