Something For The Weekend (200)
After what seemed like the sort of time span, usually associated with plate tectonics, Villa have finally signed some players and like a female beach volleyball player, the claret and blue chequebook, made a pleasingly brief appearance and prompted me to utter an involuntary, 'Oh My God!'.
I can't say I saw much dancing though - not down our street anyway - but there was at least a big sigh of relief, on Thursday, as Martin O'Neill signed two players in a day, in what looks like a decent piece of business, and which included the much craved-for novelty, of a specialist right-back, which had been glaringly absent from Villa's squad since the sad retirement of Mark Delaney last August. The legendary bearded-one, had done a magnificent job filling in but despite his pedigree and professionalism, he often looked uncomfortable in some areas of duty, normally expected of a right-back.
With the addition of Nicky Shorey, the squad (including a few youthful promotions) now numbers 24, and both he and Luke Young, are exactly the sort of material you expect MON to be chasing, as they have both had a little taste of wearing an England shirt and they both now have the opportunity to stake a claim for Fabio Capello's World Cup qualifying squad. Lets hope they both have enough hunger and enough quality, not forgetting luck, to substantiate that claim, while wearing a Villa shirt.
It is a fascinating addition to MON's options and looks to make his team a more dynamic unit than last term, and as specialists, they will add to the available attacking options, in open play, as well as freeing up Reo-Coker for his preferred midfield role. I have a sneaking suspicion, that one of these players is going to be very good indeed but I am not sure which one it will be.
Despite the suppurating wound to the Villa spirits, that GB's ongoing, on and off departure, has inflicted, this week's signings, I believe, takes positive feeling and optimism into slight ascendancy, over negativity and pessimism. Villa's squad on paper, does not induce instant and copious salivation, as yet, but they certainly look capable of holding their own in the Premiership, although Villa's excursion
into Europe, does multiply the demands on their playing personnel.
Glasgow Rangers seemed to prove that you don't have to be the best football team in the world to reach the UEFA Cup final but you better have plenty of players, or the stamina of an ultra runner, if you are to survive the fixture-congestion, which will undoubtedly precede it, with or without the co-operation of the league's jobsworths. So if Villa are planning to be in the UEFA Cup, the Carling Cup, the FA Cup and the battle for a top-four place, they might usefully sign another two or three quality players.
All solutions need to be explored.
There might even be a solution to the Gareth Barry situation. Surely, if the Man United fans are as disgusted with Ronaldo's disloyalty as some Villa fans are with Gareth's, why don't the two clubs just do a simple exchange, to avoid all that booing and general unpleasantness. Admittedly, I am not a great fan of Mr dos Santos Aveiro but I would sure like to see him try and win me over and he certainly would be useful for the run-in. Both sets of fans would be appeased, while Gareth could prove whether he is better than Carrick, and Ronaldo could prove whether he really is good enough to bring silverware to Villa Park.
Okay, I'm nuts, but it might actually test the sincerity of the fans' outrage, because sometimes, you know, I think they put it on.
As someone might have noticed, this is the two-hundredth edition, of Vital Villa's Something For The Weekend (notice how I share the blame), and although someone might rightly accuse me of a gross act of indecent egotism, for assuming that my opinions might be worth sharing, not once but two-hundred times; on inspection they prove to be a useful barometer of Villa optimism, if nothing else. And glory, glory, sometimes my opinions, prove to be not as mad as they seem, at first, second, or even third glance.
My writing might not have improved but Villa definitely have.
Here's a quote from SFTW1 (1/11/03)
'dullness of spirit that Doug Ellis personifies runs through the club and the fans like the lettering in a piece of seaside rock.'
How about this prescient quote from SFTW2 (9/11/03):
'The model for success on a budget has to be Celtic, who were fabulous this week. Despite attracting sixty thousand fans quite regularly Celtic have limited resources and play the game in a very cautious style relying on absolute commitment from every player and even if the team doesn't play with the style of a Chelsea or Madrid, they are a fantastic spectacle of compelling fascination. It doesn't matter that they are not the Rolls Royce solution, their manager has created a team that you can't help but admire and will to win. This can be the model for the likes of Villa but only with the backing of the board: no team can perform at that level if part of the club is holding back.'
And as a reminder of how bad it got in those Ellis days:
'I think it would be a bit of an understatement to say that Villa are going through a sticky patch lately and this week saw the club hit a new low, as they slipped into the bottom three of the Premiership.'
'Well, old Deadly got his hubristic taunting of the gods paid up in full this week, and it definitely wasn't a pretty sight but perhaps justice was served. If losing to the so-called elite is bad enough, and believe me it is bad, then getting thrashed by Bolton, who we used to look down our noses at, is about as painful as it gets, unless scrotal infusion is your latest hobby.'
It is so easy to forget, just how bad it got, not so long ago.
So, I can only conclude that it seems unlikely that a Pulitzer prize, will be coming my way any time soon, but as a reminder of how bad it was and as a record of Villa's progress, I feel fully justified in inflicting my opinions on my fellow Vital Villans. Here's to another two-hundred - you poor people!
I'd like to thank Jonathan Fear for his patience and continued indulgence, in providing the pixels.