Writer: J P Fear
Date:Sunday April 12 2009
There is an article in the News of the World today, you can read it in full here: Click Here
It is basically, as far as I can see, a very very silly bit of reporting. It is suggesting that Martin O'Neill will be forced to trim the squad if we don't finish 4th.
Yup, you read it right, TRIM THE SQUAD. The tiny squad, the squad not big enough to compete on all fronts and the squad that the Villa are so hard at work to build.
Martin O'Neill has already said over the weekend that he hasn't even talked budgets for next season with Villa owner Randy Lerner so how on earth would the News of the World, or any other paper for that matter, know that we've got to trim the squad?! Are we to believe that Villa are in financial trouble? Sorry, we don't have an open cheque book like Abramovich offered Chelsea when he first came but there is funding there and we don't carry debt. It is a position many clubs would die to be in, possibly including Manchester United who, if you believe reports today, have £1.1billion of debt to clear in the next decade!
Some clubs could well go bust in these harsh economic times. Villa is not one of them.
The report says Villa will listen to offers for the following, so lets look how likely this is:
Nigel Reo-Coker - possible but only at a decent price. Hokey Cokey hasn't been happy being moved all over the pitch and especially being made to look a total plonker at right-back, a position he is not best suited.
John Carew - high earner, inconsistent, but on his day a great player. I've thought for a while the rift over the Ajax situation could prove to be irepricable but his recent form and the fact he is now being played again might now show that it has been settled. He is a bit high maintenance and he is inconsistent, so I can't see this player getting his quoted wish of ending his career at Villa, but without a stunning summer and at least two striker purchases, I'm no longer sure - as I was earlier in the season - that he'll be off.
Nicky Shorey - undecided. He's been brought in and then humiliated by the manager. Surely he'll want to prove a point but then we do have Wilfred Bouma returning. Question is after a season out, how quickly will Wilf be back to top form - is top form guaranteed? I'd love to think we'll see Shorey start every game up to the end of the season and is in the Villa shirt again next season. If I was him I'd not really blame him if he wanted out after some very shoddy treatment though.
Marlon Harewood - MON often talks about wanting quality not quantity. Buying Harewood (Salifou can be chucked in there as well) argues with that point. A stupid purchase in the first place and a player not the grade for Villa. So of course he'll be sold if they can get some funds for him. Another player that MON has brought in and humiliated by sitting him on the bench and never bringing him on. He is a good Championship grade player and will surely find a club where he can get first team football.
Craig Gardner - unlikely, he won't be a top earner and is a good all round utility player. Only way he'll be sold is if we do buy enough quality in order to make his task of breaking into the first team impossible, then he will be moved on for his own good to a club where he will get regular football.
Zat Knight - why would he be sold UNLESS we are bringing in another higher quality defender? Martin Laursen sadly is struggling with injury problems again we need cover. Personally I'd NEVER have brought him in when you think that Gary Cahill was shown the door despite such obvious talent but to be fair to Zat, in the latter half of this season he has shown some good form. Still isn't the next level though and this is where I argue with MON saying he wants quality not quantity. You have to prove that by actions not words.
He has said he's not spoken to Randy about budgets but did say that the Villa owner knows it is tough to break the top four adding 'We know what we've got to do, although I agree with him that this is not the time to be putting the club in financial jeopardy for a short-term gain. With a bit of luck, we'll be in Europe next season and we'll attract more quality to the club.'
'People can be disappointed we're not in the top four, but there's been a great improvement here. The progress we're making means the vital next step is to do what the top four have been doing year in, year out. They're in contention every season. These clubs have experience - and years of it - on us. It's up to Villa to improve at such a rate that we're up there a year or two before we should be.'
Suppose we have to wait until the end of the season to see if there is a 'great improvement' don't we? We've not improved in the Cups and if we are in the Uefa or whatever it is called next season, after what happened this.....? We've finished 6th before under different managers, it is pushing on that has long been our problem!
In the Telegraph and the Birmingham Mail he warned that Villa can't compete financially with Manchester United... fair enough on that although again, they are in £1.1b of debt, the weight of that has to cause problems at some point! He added,
'We are in there (the Prem) against Arsenal who house 60,000. Then we are against the other two who have our gates but not only have the experience behind them but a lot of money at it as well. We won`t be able to compete financially. We are trying to run this as a business at this minute. That is difficult especially in this day and age. But I think that is part of the excitement of it all. You have to try and find other ways to compete. You`d maybe hope in time that we can do. I don`t think we`ll ever be up there in finance terms but it doesn`t mean you cannot compete in other ways.'
Funny old game, must admit I'm falling out of love with what used to be a great division. If all clubs can hope to do is finish 4th as 'success' (which I understand financially it is) and you have to 'throw' cups in order to get it (and then fail anyway), then.............? Hmmm.
Date:Sunday April 12 2009
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