Spend Martin O'Neill - SPEND!
Spend MON, Spend!
Ask any football fan from other teams [other than Villa] and they will largely agree that considering Villa's size, fan-base and history, Villa are a top 10 team, and a majority will probably also agree that we are a top 6 side. Well, we have been a top-6 side for the last 2 seasons, so it's a pretty fair assessment. So, if we are a top-6 side and we are achieving top-6, why do we all feel like it's not enough? Are we just unrealistic whingers?!
Well, from my point of view it's simple, we have never really tried to be more than a top-6 side for a long time! Under Ellis this was never going to happen and the bitterness and unfortunate acceptance of this was there for all to experience! At the start of MON's and Randy's reign, we wanted to re-establish ourselves as a top-6 side, and the 5-year plan is to get us into the top-4 and contesting the champions league. Well, all well and good, until we had the opportunity last season to gatecrash this target a few seasons early! No side with as many points in February, I believe, has ever finished outside the top four, until us last season. A spectacular failure that was expected by most other team's supporters and pundits alike, but still very disappointing for us long suffering supporters!
It was all the more disappointing with the way we allowed ourselves to fall out of the UEFA cup and surrender the winning habit. A gamble [not] taken by MON at the time, and one that failed miserably, as the losing habit seemed to engulf us, and we found it impossible to pick up points in any fashion at all.
Now, I like MON and I think Randy Lerner has done a fantastic job thus far, but when we had a chance to go for it last season [in the January transfer window] to improve the squad and finish the season strongly, we signed one player, a solid but unspectacular player, which seems to be the nature of MON's signings. He doesn't take risks with Randy's money, or Randy won't allow him to - I think most will agree that it is more likely to be the former.
The only flair signing, or one that could be considered as risky in anyway, was that of Ashley Young, when MON clearly had his arm twisted to pay £10m for a relatively untried talent, but how that talent has
blossomed! Other signings were either convenient, such as the swap deal for Carew/Baros [being his other major success], or fair value for money signings. We knew what we would get with these other signings; solid, dependable and reasonable quality. Well that's great for top-6, as we have seen, but this tactic isn't going to get us top-4! Both the quantity and quality of signings need to improve. MON needs to take a 'risk' and sign some high quality players for large amounts of money - that is the nature of the game now. We get £60m for just being in the premier league after all!
Now is the time, as many have said before me, to really 'have a go' and sign some high quality players to try and crack the top-4 and let's sign them before pre-season starts! Arsenal are vulnerable, the other 3 are more difficult to catch. What I want, and most Villa fans want, I believe, is for us to splash some cash and take a gamble on making us a top-4 team. We don't have to be reckless, but we do have to take our spending to a new level, on individual players and their wages, and on the quantity we sign, if we are going to be anything more that perennial underachievers in our eyes - even if the rest of the country thinks we are at our level and should be grateful!
With thanks to AVGD (who I tried to email to say thanks to but the email addy bounced back... so thumbs up for the contribution mate!)