Are Irish Eyes Still Smiling on O'Neill?
There is only one club the current economy doest effect - Man City. But does that mean its all doom and gloom for the likes of Villa, Tottenham, and Everton?
I am not stupid enough, or stubborn enough not to be able to admit Lerner is pulling on the purse strings, and Lerner isn`t stupid enough to pump another £65m of his own cash in at a time when he should be making sense of Aston Villa as a business. There has to be a balance in football, for the sake of the balance sheet, infrastructure, training ground, stadium etc - and ultimately resale value for Lerner. Otherwise what`s the point? I also understand why O`Neill has to get the 5+ high earners off our books if they have no future. It totally grinds my gears that Shorey, Sidders, Heskey, Coker, L Young, and Beye are creaming it for naff all. However, I am told that there is money to spend, but Lerner wants sense and sensibility in respect of the aforementioned players that are not contributing first. Wouldn`t you if you were him?
I would expect we go out and spend roughly £40m - £45m when Milner is gone, but in the same way if O`Neill gets rid of the 'sponge bobs`, I wouldn`t be surprised if we spent £60m. But those earners have to go! The other aspect of the Milner deal, is if you were O`Neill, or Lerner, and after 2 years you can generate £18m sheer profit on one of your assets - isn`t that the best business you can do? Didn`t Chelsea do it a few seasons ago with Robiniho? What great business that turned out to be for Abramovich, and credit to Chelsea for getting it done.
Milner going is a blow, don`t get me wrong but Aston Villa doesn`t come to its knees because of it, we thought Barry going was a dead loss - but we improved again, and he hasn`t - its that simple. Who is saying we can`t improve again? Because it`s more likely that we will improve, less likely that Milner will. But to improve as a club I think it`s about time we to look overseas to Holland, Spain, or Germany. The British isle player fascination has ran its course, for real quality we have to look abroad, and weed out the next Guti, Fabregas, Or Overmaars to get better value for money.
In many respects, we mirror Liverpool with regards to the stadium (development has already started), infrastructure, corporate business, etc, etc, (Apart from parting company with our present manager of course). Ultimately whatever we do at the moment has to make financial sense, and the books have to balance, because if you balance the books now, in 2/3 years time when the world is a different place economically, all of a sudden after a few years of prudent financial management you`re a heavyweight with a bit of clout in the game. Its no surprise that all the American owners - Gillet & Hicks, Lerner, and also not forgetting the Glaziers have all put the stops on the spending, they have even done it to Fergie with his success!!! The Yanks don`t` make mistakes when it comes to big business, it`s that simple, just refresh your minds to the acumen of these men.
Let`s look at what selling Milner represents to O`Neill;
Van Der Weil £8m
Sell Shorey, Coker, L Young, Sidwell, Heskey, Beye = £15m and £200k a week of the wage bill.
When Barry wanted to go we had the money to reject a bid from Liverpool, now it seems that horse has bolted, and we had BIG money to spend. We are sort of taking the Milner deal on the chin but at the right price, but it does beg the question; Clubs cant keep selling there best players and hope to progress there has to be a balance and for me, MON has to take responsibility because by now he should have a squad challenging after the money he has had to spend. He hasn`t spent it wisely enough, or he has but not on good enough players. I also think if he had have spent it more wisely maybe the likes of Barry and Milner would still be here, and also the likes of De Jong, Defoe, and the Joe Cole`s of this world.
I think Lerner has probably had words with him about rash spending, and why certain players haven`t worked out considering our investment in them. O`Neill has to get it right this season or I think Lerner will take a fresh approach, come May next year - and I wouldn`t blame him. But as much as O`Neill grinds my gears, and his stubbornness winds me up no end, I still want him to get it right, because when all is said and done he has done what all previous Aston Villa managers have failed to do and he has established us as a top six club. He is the first manager in my time to give us three consecutive top six finishes. For the first time since Ron Saunders we finally have an Aston Villa manager getting a fifth season.
We will have an indication of his desire from this transfer window; let`s see how clever he can be because Warnock, Dunne, and Collins were masterstrokes last year (tightest defence in the league doesn`t lie). This summer we need the creativity in the middle, (the allusive final ball), and a finisher up front. Add 20 goals to Carew and Gabby`s 15 and 17 a season and we are laughing… but all on a shoe string budget if Milner stays. Moreover, if Milner stays the only reason he should stay is if he signs another contract, otherwise what is the point? All we do is lose £10+ on his resale value next summer!
I am looking to see how he has adjusted and changed our formation, and passage of play. We were too rigid last year, very, very solid…….. But too rigid. I want to see wing backs over lapping, and Gabby dropping deeper for an 'attacking midfielder` making a run etc. One thing Robbie Keane will give us is link up play between the midfield and our strikers - and the move makes sense to me from an O`Neill point of view. If O`Neill can inspire Keane anywhere near as much as Dunne he will hit 15 no problem. But can O`Neill get out of him what he got out of Dunne last year? Another Renaissance man? Maybe. Just hopefully not another Heskey.
I was personally massively underwhelmed when we signed Dunne and Collins, but what a turn around since coming to us. Fast, Sharpe, Evil, and first into every tackle in the air or on the ground - they haven`t looked so good since they were 25 let alone 30. I was very wrong, and I admit it. A few more seasons at that level of consistency and they will be up there with Mellberg, Laursen, and McGrath. O`Neill has given them another 3 years playing at his peak at a top 6 club challenging - Otherwise where would Dunne have ended up? He would be on the piss in Sunderland with Bruce. What would you rather?
The question is; is Martin clever enough to survive this summer, and do it again with the likes of Robbie Keane for example?