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The Road To Nowhere

The Road To Nowhere

So, the window is shut. Jim White's yellow tie is back under lock and key until the end of January, Harry Redknapp (or maybe this time, Mark Hughes) has wound up his window, and we can get on and see where this all leaves us for the next few months.

The majority of Villa fans feel we've had a decent transfer window - balance of the squad slightly better, more experience in key positions - and with the impending return of Benteke and Kozak, things look a whole lot brighter now than they did at the end of last season.

That being said, I can certainly sympathise with those fans who think we are running to stand still, while Randy Lerner is doing the bare minimum (or maybe less than) to keep us going ahead of his intended sale. 200m is an awful lot of money to ask for a struggling football club, but every time the TV deal floods even greater riches into the 'Premier' League, the more dollar signs light up in the eyes of owners and potential owners.

He is a businessman, and as such would want to recover most of what he has paid out, and you can bet he won't sell until he gets what he wants. Sure, he's spent more this summer than we might have expected for a club up for sale. But it is the absolute minimum, and having missed the boat financially when we failed to reach the Champions League under O'Neill, the days where we would spend 10 million on a player in the gamble of reaching the promised land ( Sky TV) are a distant memory.

As long as the European 'elite' are paid more money for UCL participation (together with the very nice safety net of failure being rewarded with a second bite at the cherry in the Europa League), and as long as the FA in this country make the prize money for a top-four finish greater each time the TV contracts are re-negotiated, clubs like Everton, Tottenham, Newcastle, and yes, even the 'mighty' Villa, have virtually no chance at all of competing for the title, much less the European Cup.

Barring a freak season from the top four/five (Chelsea, City, Arsenal, Liverpool and United), there is almost zero chance the hegemony will be broken. Liverpool had the leg-up they required with FSG coming in (and their appointment of Rodgers, to be fair), and so their qualification for the UCL has helped them into the last lifeboat - United can stand a year or two out of the Champions League due to their other revenue streams, Arsenal are perennial qualifiers and have huge income and reserves anyway, while Chelsea and City have their cash-rich owners to go out and buy a Costa or an Aguero when the going gets a bit tricky. Make no mistake; there is little prospect of this changing. Spurs & Everton had a look, but the door well and truly slammed in their face. As long as the top four take up the Champions League places, nothing can change. Europe's G20 (or whatever they are called) are all looking out for each other, and it will always be that way as long as the rewards on offer remain.

Until UEFA amend the entry criteria for the Champions League (i.e., the top 2, 3 or 4 teams depending on the co-efficient and national association's ranking) and allow individual associations to determine how to award qualification (for example, the top two in the League, plus the FA & Capital Cup winners in our case), it will always be the same teams 'competing'.

Even if Randy sells to an Abramovich or a Mansour billionaire type, we would struggle to get the leg up we need due to the preposterous Financial Fair Play - our revenue will never come close to that of a Man United or an Arsenal, so throwing millions at the team (even if we could persuade Messi or Ronaldo to move to Sutton Coldfield!) is simply not an option. Barring a freak occurrence where one of the established top five has some kind of meltdown, the best we can hope for would be year-after-year purgatory in the Europa League.

It's a depressing thought that things will never really get better.

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The Journalist

Writer: juanpabloangel  Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Friday September 5 2014

Time: 9:02AM

Your Comments

Wish the top few would p*ss off to a Euro Galactico league and they can wink themsleves silly whilst 'real' English football is re-born. Sky. Killing football since '92
well put cropped!
The Fear
oh and well put juanpablo as well obviously! lol
The Fear
Nicely sums up the pointlesness of the prem league,its a closed shop,outside the usual suspects,and as soon as someone threatens,i.e. Southampton last year,the big clubs just buy their players......then back to square one....
brian little...god
cropped .... I think real English football is alive and well in the Championship and below just everyone creams themsleves at being in the Premiership which is odd because most teams have no chance.
The bubble will burst,soon. It cannot Continue. Already the falling attendances Are the early warning signs
Flo Moses
Win the Europa League (not impossible), sneak into the Champions League, get all up in dat ass and spray 'Villa woz here' all over the place
Stephen Jay Hawkings
A good summary by JPA and comment by cropped. To a degree I also agree with Ranger, but you must consider that a good percentage of teams in the Championship are running at a loss. It is therefore, important to stay in the Premiership to get the best of the bread crumbs we can after the Sky 4... or is it 6 these days have had their fill.
Pride of Lions
I agreed with Cropped. I mean, all the oil-rich Arab teams can afford travelling around Europe on a weekly basis and still come home with double the profit. Those teams are nothing more than businesses so why shouldn't they be treated like it? Well, they are, but you get my point!
Avfc94 we do
Wtf? I agree with both the article and most of the comments, but don't forget that Aston Villa is a pretty big brand in it's own right. The potential is huge. There may have been many enquiries from potential buyers, rebuffed because they don't meet RL's requirements. Things are bleak, just not quite as bleak as we think. Anyway, it's better to dine at the bottom of the tip table than the top of the bottom table. (Unless it's righ next to the kitchen for seconds).
Conspiracy theory. Welcome to life the elite rule. Ffp killed any real chance, they really have to male some changes to that. I have said before. If an owner wants to spend his cash he should be allowed. Debt is the problem not cash. Financial fair play has made it really unfair lol. It's a contradiction in itself
Ali Arab
I think there is an even bigger issue here. It's called dreams! I'm a bit of an old timer and been supporting Villa for 55 years or more. When I was a youngster I had a dream and every season I really thought this is going to be the year we win the league. I really thought we had a chance and of course one year we not only did win the 1st division but as we all know we went to to win the European Cup too. Every team in the league had a chance and the young supporters in all teams had those dreams too. Remember when teams like Ipswich, Derby, Notts Forsest etc etc either did win it or came close. Have any of those tears now got any chance whats so ever?? None at all.. So all those young supporters have no dreams.. so what do they do? They go to other sports or places to follow their dreams.. Who wants to support a club with no ambition or no chance of winning anything? This is the start of the slippery slope and in 10 years time there will only be 5 0r 6 elite clubs left. The rest will either be gone into liquidation or just keeping in going with the love of their owners.Without dreams you have nothing!.
Great post Thailand. The league is 4 or 5 ologopolies that in team will completely have most of the market. And as you say what does that leave the other clubs. A state of no dreams. How are these clubs going to attract new fans?... Most young new fans are going to lean towards the elite clubs that can offer dreams.
Ali Arab
You've got to have a dream, if you don't have a dream, how you gonna have a dream come true.
Adam Deuce
Yup, totally right Thailand/Ali. Love it Adam very happy talk, keep talking happy talk, / Talk about things you'd like to do!!!
The Fear
Myself, I'm not really arsed about winning the league or finishing top 4 as its impossible for the foreseeable future. What I want to win is the League Cup and the FA Cup - days out and p**s ups in London, taking back our record as the most successful cup team. That's our route to glory. STRONGEST team for all cup competitions must be played.
Well said Piper try hardest to achieve what you really got a chance of achieving and it ain't European football.
I also agree with Piper, why haven't we tried for the cups more seriously in recent years?. The only real glory memories I have is of '94 and '96. Wouldn't it make us more attractive? It's also a route into Europe, which is where we should be. Since we've already bottled the League Cup (which disgusted me), Lambert still has a chance to make amends for the last years FA Cup "run". Play the strongest team in every round, there are no easy games in the cups anymore.
Stephen Jay Hawkings
I see your points about the cups and of course it would be great to win one but if I had a choice of top six or a cup I would take top six every time. I hope we go straight out of the FA cup this season as well so all our efforts can go into being a top eight club. I do believe we can progress to compete with the big boys again but you need a sound business plan that you stick to constantly and plenty of luck won't go a miss. The most important part of any club is a manager or scouting system that can spot value as we have seen you can buy top top players like Benteke and Vlaar for reasonable fee's so over time if you can keep adding those type of players we can become very successful. Imagine a team full of players of Bentekes ability, there would be no reason we wouldn't be competing again but it takes time so fans need to be patient or you ruin any good work done. Another point on cups is no matter how much effort the players put in I believe the lower league teams will always be able to mentally give more as they really have little chance of any success or financial gain being out of the premiership hence why so many cup upsets over the years.
Another thought on cup runs, how many teams out side of the top eight have a bad league run or suffer relegation when they have a good cup run. I don't think its possible for teams in our position to have good runs in both. Hopefully one day that will change but I'm sure Wigan, Birmingham and Portsmouth would trade there cup for being back in the Premiership. I hope we get a big team in the first round of the FA cup and go straight out so we can maximise our league form this season and push on. They would never say it on the record but I wonder how many managers of Premiership clubs instruct there players to take it easy in cup games, if they go through great but managers won't want injury's or fatigue from there cup games effecting there league games so treat they more as a training exercise hence all the cup shocks.
The only way to save the cups is to let the winner qualify for the champs league.All premier league clubs care about is surviving in the prem league and maintaining the revenue stream.Entry to the champs league cash train will make it worthwhile for them.Sad buy true.Personally Id love to see us win one,but untill the above applies no club including us will make it a priority......and I dont really blame them...
brian little...god
I agree Villan444 and also Brian your right about the champion league entry. Really there should be two league places for champions league and then the two cup winners and that would revolutionise the league and cup. I would even prefer for only the league winner to have a place and then the two cup winners. It would help take the hold the big clubs have in the league as they would only get the revenue if they finished first and teams will struggle to do that every season. Teams are also less likely to go and spend massive as they know if they don't get first they could be out of pocket but at the moment they know they have the fall back of the top four places.
I don't agree at all about having to sacrifice cup competitions to maintain league status. Last season we were knocked out in the early rounds of both and still almost got relegated. It only becomes a problem if you're having to go to a replay in every round, otherwise I can't see how fatigue could be a factor. If we get knocked out in the 3rd round, then we'll have a 2 week break every time a cup weekend comes around. In all my life I can't ever really remember that being an advantage going into the next league game. In theory it should be but never works out that way. Winning is a good habit to get into and that should most definitely include cup competitions. Just because Birmingham and Wigan got relegated the same season they won a cup means nothing. A mere coincidence. How many more teams can anyone name that have suffered that fate?
Stephen Jay Hawkings
Stephen..what would have happened last year if we had a cup run and say Delph got injured?Dread to think,It does have an effect,game is so fast these days...
brian little...god
Like many of us I unfortunately am friends with and work with Bluenoses and I know they wouldn't swap there cup win for nothing.
brianlittle, I see your point mate but that's just a case of "what ifs". Both Benteke and Kozak were seriously injured in training last season, should the players not train anymore either just in case? Injuries will happen at any random time, yes the more games you play increases the risk of someone getting injured, but it's only 6 extra games (talking about the FA Cup) in the season. The game might be a lot faster these days, but the players are also a lot fitter.
Stephen Jay Hawkings
Piper, some will tell you that as that's all they have to try and brag about, they have nothing else. If it was a serious choice they would definitely choose the premiership and especially a club in blues position and what they have been through so there is no way they would seriously choose a cup over the financial gain of the premiership. Stephen, yes its obviously no guarantee if you have a good cup run you will have a bad league season but funny how many teams outside of the big teams that won a cup recently that went down. Its only the big clubs with there massive squads that don't suffer as much. Teams in our position need there best team playing every week without slight knocks/fatigue etc. Six games doesn't sound like much but a few extra injury's picked up in those games to vital players and it can ruin a season. From my calculations if you play 6 extra games you have a 21% greater risk of injury's as you are playing 21% greater games, that's not even accounting for the extra pressure on the body that may lead to extra injury's. The evidence is there and how many times do the big teams come back from European competition and have a bad game. It's when I always like to play them as they may have slight knocks and not be 100% fit. When mid table teams get into Europe and there following league form is bad because of the extra games, it happens all the time. Its much better to have the rest in the cup weeks and train on your game plan for the following league game rather than thinking about the cup and then have a few days before the league game so no decent amount of time to work for that game.
If you are top 4. The prices for a family of 4 to watch football is a fortune. Years ago football was a working man's sport. I honestly don't believe there are many working men watching arsenal, utd etc. Being in the elite comes at a huge cost. It may be nice to dream, but it may be worse to have the dream at your doorstep and not be able to afford having it.
Ali Arab
For me football is about memories. Is "remember the time we finished 4th" better than "remember the time when we won the league cup, went to Wembley, had an all day session, went mental in the cheap seats, sang Villa songs constantly all day"?
Piper, I agree but my point is we need to be up there first before putting everything into the cup or you risk a lot more. Would you have really of taken a cup these last four seasons if it meant we got relegated? surely its not worth that? and if we went down the leagues you would have less and less chance of ever getting a cup again. The last three times we got to a FA or League cup final we finished in the top six and until we are back there I would rather go out of the cup first round every time. And looking back if we had failed in the cups the times we got to the final would we have managed to finished higher in the league and now be a champions league team. That's a big if but I'm sure cup performances has a big Bering on league position unless you have a squad good enough to filed two very good teams.
aston.villafc, you said it's funny how many teams have been relegated recently whilst winning a cup? Yes it is funny, because it's only 2, and 3 in the whole history of the FA Cup and League Cup (Norwich '85 League Cup). So if you want statistics that's 3.7% of League Cup winners and 0.75% of FA Cup winners. Also the Europa League is a completely different situation, as it's midweek and involves air travel. As for the amount of games, the football league plays 46 plus their cup games, so even if we WON both cups we would only just about match the amount of games played in the lower tiers. Finally, to lay the "rest" myth to bed, Lambert's record at Villa after breaks (cup or international) is W3 L10.
Stephen Jay Hawkings
Stephen you are just arguing for the sake of arguing, its common-sense if you play more games you will get more fatigue and injury's no matter what crap you come out with. Why you would argue against that is beyond me. Also please reread what I said so you don't miss quote me, I said 'RECENTLY' when talking about Cups and if you take from 2010 FA and League cups 8 Premiership teams got to the final outside of the big 5/6 teams and three of them got relegated in the same season they got to the final. Don't get me wrong I would love to win a cup bit if it meant finishing much lower in the league then forget it. Once we are a solid top six/seven team again then yes go for the cup but then we will have a much improved squad of players hopefully.
Aston read what Stephen says. In statistical date you have something called a random walk. Teams winning cups and get relegated is a very rare occurence. Ok happened to Wigan and Birmingham. Does not mean we all got to lice scared of winning cups and getting relegated lol
Ali Arab
Wrong 444., it happened cause they got relegated. Not cause they won a cup. I bet if you look at other winners of cups. I bet there's a few that won the cup and survived the drop. You could then say they survived relegation cause they had a winning mentality . Point is there is not enough data to prove that winning cups can mean relegation.
Ali Arab
also league cup is in february! there is no correlation between relegation and cups. sorry!
Ali Arab
Disagree mate. They play football week in week out. It's not like they playing different sports. The variation ain't huge regarding your opponents. Birmingham won the league cup in Februaryand got relegated 10 matches later. Your argument has a possibility, but it is not the reason or a fact.
Ali Arab
I dream of seeing villa in European football again but the reality is if we did make euro by Winning the FA cup or League cup do we have the depth in squad for it ATM, especially with an owner who doesn't want to spend and is trying to sell. Don't get me wrong all I want to see is villa on top and winning silverware
Michael Hellyer
aston.villafc, I don't know what "crap" I'm coming out with, I just gave you a bunch of stats and facts. I will argue against what you said because I simply don't agree with you. Football isn't an exact science. Just because we might have a few extra games in a season doesn't automatically mean the squad will become decimated with injuries. Of course there's a bit more of a chance, but is that enough reason to surrender a chance of potentially winning something? Of course, on the other hand, if we're in the bottom 3 come March, that's a different story, it's just that I hadn't already written us off as relegation candidates just yet. It could be a long time before we're a solid top 6/7 team again, I can't see us overtaking Spurs or Everton anytime soon, so I'd rather finish 14th and win a cup and have a great memory rather than finish 8th and left with a feeling of 'meh'. But that's just me.
Stephen Jay Hawkings
I don't think you are listening to what's been said Stephen, no ones saying you will definitely be relegated or have a bad season because of a cup but its just common sense the more games you play the less time you have to prepare for league games, the more injury's you may get and the more fatigued your players will be. That is pretty simple and if you don't see that then there is no helping you. And shove 14th, I want us back in the top six and we can get there a lot quicker if we don't fanny around with cups. Also the point is there is not a lot between 14th and relegation so a cup run could push you down the league just those few to many places. Its not a given but if look at recent history it also points it could be a factor. Get back to being a stable top 6th or 8th team first and then you worry about cups. Don't run before you can walk or you may fall over :)
There is no evidence that playing more games makes you worse. Real Madrid play 70 games a year, and some of there stars play 50+ of those games. Historically only 3 teams have ever been relegated as Stephen pointed out to you. This is a complete myth that trying to win cups can make you more susceptible to relegation.
Ali Arab
The FFP rules are easily manipulated by 'sponsorship' deals. We can use that to get the leg up to spend big and not breach the rules...there is always a way. I'd rather have a billionaire and assured safety than none. At least a cup would be on the cards, just look at Wigan etc...
But Wigan fans do NO regret winning the FA Cup - even if they went down. It is history, coming 14th in the Premier League is not. Without the cups the Villa of 2014 can have no dreams o future glories and our glorious history will more and more become just that "ancient history".
nonsense stenny to say we have no dreams without a cup. Of course Wigan don't regret winning a cup but if the difference was them winning a cup or staying in the premiership I'm sure they would take staying in the premiership before they won the cup. Its no good asking them after there is no option. So ask any teams that have a chance of getting relegated from the premiership this season would they prefer to get relegated this season and win the league cup or stay up and win no league cup? I recon 95% of fans would choose to stay up. That is also not saying you are guaranteed relegation if you win the cup but it can be a factor in some cases and its sensible to consider the possibility of the consequences with playing the extra games.
And Ali and Stephen, six fa cup finalist have been relegated in the same season. its not just winning the cup its the games to get to the final. If six finalists got relegated just imagine how many semi-finalists and quarter finalists got relegated. They may have got relegated anyway bit it surely wouldn't have helped there cause. It would be interesting to look at all the data of how far teams get in the cup effected there league positions to seasons they didn't get so far. Its the same when teams outside the top five or six get into Europe and then the following season there league form suffers because they don't have a squad to cope. It happens time and time again so why some cant see it is beyond me.
Most Villa fans of late just have nightmares. Without the cups your dreams are I presume dreams in your sleep. The cups are a dream possibility our one hope of winning anything, top half of the Premier League is something we all aspire to again for Villa - but not what dreams are made of!
aston.villafc, I already said I'm not denying the fact that cup runs can be a distraction, and more games increases risk of injury/fatigue. And yes, maybe all of those teams that got far in cup competitions could have done without the distraction, but it's all just looking at things in hindsight. Who's to say they wouldn't have been relegated anyway? Maybe I can't agree with you and Villan444 on this because you seem to be lumping us in with the likes of Wigan, Portsmouth etc. and if we have a go at a cup competition we'll be in big danger. Those calibre of clubs would probaby better off forgetting about the cups, but we're Aston Villa! Are you already writing us off as relegation fodder? To be honest it's a bit of a pointless argument right now, because how seriously we should take the FA Cup, depends on where we are in January. If we're sitting comfortably in 8th then I'd rather go for it and drop a few places. If we're 16th, then forget about it, I'm not that stupid!
Stephen Jay Hawkings
Villan444, on the other hand, MON threw the Europa League against CSKA Moscow when the tie was at 1-1, so we could go all out for the Champions League. We didn't win the next 8 games and blew the whole thing. Didn't help one bit.
Stephen Jay Hawkings
Mean like we did in the Cups in every season bar the one MON actually took them seriously? No nearer the top four then were we? A winning mentality helps, the extra games aren't an issue when you play with a squad and for players there's the honour of Wembley, medals, dreams, and not a league placing number which ridiculously seems to be all football is about these days. Players want to win things, fans want to win things, there is really no direct correlation statistically with a cup run = success or failure in the league, but there are aberations on both sides. It's a sport, you are supposed to be in it to win regardless of the comp and in recent years cup runs or the lack of them have had naff all to do with our league form - so why not just be simple about this not that difficult game. Go out to win every match regardless, some we will, some we won't but that's life. But if we are going to bring it down to penny pinching and all that nonsense again, then why not save the registration fee?
Not the chairman who's supposed to take cups seriously, if you want that argument, then he would, each game is additional revenue back into the club isn't it - so not taking the cups seriously does him out of pennies, even down to increased merchandise and sponsorship opportunities so counter intiuitive to your argument :-)

One year under MON we took them seriously, ironically the year he had to shift people he wouldn't use so the extra pennies became a little more important, but it still didn't change our league form for me - not even winning mentality affect. Previous years we didn't take them seriously and it still didn't affect league form or help the eventual capitulation of top 4 because players were burnt out as we failed to rotate appropriately.

I do think PL was taught a heavy lesson on his Cup wibbles, and there was no way after that reaction he was going to pick a weakened side for Sheff United but we hadn't put the work in. For me, even though we lost, we still approached Leyton Orient differently and they sucker punched us unfairly really - can't agree with the lack of subs in the game, but can understand the argument it should've only been a matter of time before we scored so why overly tinker.

As for the article, cracking read and right in a lot of ways. FFP fines are now being shared by UEFA through other participating clubs, it's still all too self fulfilling they need to twist all of this into making it more competitive and fair as not the closed shop it is. But calling something Champions and then including the third and fourth losers is a joke and always has been. Even first placed losers is a joke BUT understandable.
Completely agree Mike, and yeah 444, March was always our achilles heal under MON, maybe wouldn't have been if he wasn't playing the same first eleven all season!!
Stephen Jay Hawkings
How could I spell Achilles correctly and not 'heel'. Can I report abuse on my own post?
Stephen Jay Hawkings
Yes you can, but let me know when you do it so I can get a screenprint for posterity! lol

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