Should Villa Enter The Inter-Toto?
David O'Leary has been talking on the official site about the preparations for the 2006/07 season and has suggested he wants to set up tougher pre-season matches to stretch the team more.
O'Leary has said that the usual pre-season game against Walsall will no doubt be fixed up as part of the arrangement for the reserves playing at the Bescot during the worst of the winter, but that he won't be looking to take Villa to Sweden for a fourth successive tour as the games are too easy.
He says that the results aren't important, it is all about preparation and match fitness.
'It's not about results. Pre-season is about six weeks of getting sorted and getting that result at the end.'
Adding 'I just think the lads have had enough of the Swedish thing. I think there's no point in some of the games over there. What I'm looking for is to extend the players' fitness....I want to try to get them into matches that test them. I'm not talking about going into matches to get beaten, but if we can get teams that are ahead of us in fitness, they can push us. That's where we'll change it.'
He says they may look at 'tougher games in Germany to extend us. We'll definitely look in Europe. Going to places like Dubai is purely a big money thing, it's not about preparing for the season.'
So, here is an idea. Why not put our name forward for the much maligned Inter-Toto Cup, otherwise known as the Inter-Two-Bob Cup? I know it is panned by pundits and managers alike, but I still remember Paul Magic Merson talking about what good preparation it is as the players start the season already match fit and sharp. The draw back Villa have is that we have a small squad so they do tend to burn out towards the end of the season, but if we want tough games in order to get the season off to a flyer (lets face it, we didn't get out of the blocks until Christmas this year after making our worst start in 35 years) then why not enter and get some competitive games?
And the bonus for doing so? A possible chance of Europe. Mind you, the way we are going, we may just make it into Europe via the FA Cup. STOP laughing at the back, Villa are coming into form just at the right time!
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