Close But No Cigar For Brad Friedel
Brad Friedel says it is crucial that Villa finish in fifth place after a good season but he had hoped for at least one better!
He told AVTV: 'I think it is massively important that we finish in fifth this season. If we do that, it's been a step up from the previous campaign. That would be great. As long as there is a progression made, everyone - the fans, chairman, manager and players - will be upbeat about the coming season. If we do miss out, it won't be a lost season but it is important to see one of our goals achieved and that was finishing higher than last season. That would give us a boost ahead of the coming season.'
Interestingly he admits at the start of the season he'd not have accepted 5th if offered because the talk and ambition of Villa before he joined impressed him.
He explains on the official site that it isn't a 'god-given right' to come 4th but admits we had a great chance adding, 'It wasn't to be and certainly doesn't mean this season is a throw-away. But if you handed me fifth at the start, I wouldn't have taken it, I would have played the season through and seen what happened.'
OR the article by Vital Villan on the same subject posted at the same time (but just after VV so off you go!)
There's a lot of sense in what Friedel says here, but it's also nice to here a player back up the lofty ambitions of the fans this season.
There has been plenty of discussion of whether we expect too much to soon, and the whole debate of looking at fifth place as a loss of fourth given the position we were in for so long, the PR of the club, the constant reminders Barry would only stay if we achieved the Champions League and it's been done to death on the board, and plenty of media outlets have had their comments on our expectations to boot.
So it's nice to see Friedel say on the official site:
'If someone had offered me fifth at the start of the season, I wouldn't have accepted it. When I was doing all my talks before I joined, the ambition of the club was impressed upon me.
'I'm not saying it's a god-given right but we had a great chance at one stage to solidify our place in fourth.
'It wasn't to be and certainly doesn't mean this season is a throw-away. But if you handed me fifth at the start, I wouldn't have taken it, I would have played the season through and seen what happened.'
Which strangely contradicts the thoughts of most fans at the start of the season, we'd have taken 5th but we did so much better than expected that 4th became a real shot and was a real aim. It seemed to be what the club went for, it was the understanding behind the Moscow decision. Again plenty understand it, doesn't mean we have to like it, accept it, or want it done again.
But I suppose it just goes to show - 4th would have been a remarkable achievement. 5th Is a brilliant achievement, but you can be of the mind that we blew 4th place and thus 5th place is now a disappointing end to the season whilst at the same time realising 5th place is an improvement and a success.
Not everything has to be black and white.
Anyway, Friedel also comments that as long as we can secure 5th place now it will give the club and fans a massive boost as we set our sights (hopefully higher again) for the next campaign.
'I think it is massively important that we finish in fifth this season. If we do that, it's been a step up from the previous campaign. That would be great.
'As long as there is a progression made, everyone - the fans, chairman, manager and players - will be upbeat about the coming season.
'If we do miss out, it won't be a lost season but it is important to see one of our goals achieved and that was finishing higher than last season. That would give us a boost ahead of the coming season.'
A steady improvement, definitely, a blown opportunity, yes, disappointing in the Cups again and most importantly UEFA, yes.
But plenty of lessons should have been learnt. Our younger players have more European experience. They now are not, and haven't been surprise packages for Premiership teams and they've had to work out how to have an impact when people know what they can do and they have improved.
Next season they'll be more to learn - we'll work out if our younger stars will sink or swim and reach their peak. We should have more strength and depth and it'll no doubt be harder to reach 4th place.
But we are in good position to do so, and throughout the disappointment we cannot lose sight of that. Neither should we lose sight of improvements and successes this season.
It's all about balance and taking opportunities when they arrise. We took some, we ignored and blew others. Next season let's take them all regardless of whether we are successful or not.
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