Vital Football

Latest Aston Villa News

Something For The Weekend (130)

Something For The Weekend (130)
I have this vague memory of a joke, with one of those obtuse built in pieces of wisdom, which all the best sorts of humour celebrate; even those famous Irish ones the English are too unsubtle to get.

Oh yes, that joke:

It was something to do with one of the wars, or maybe it was both (the Great and the not so Great).

Okay, so the British recruits turn up and are not given any rifles but, the guys are told that they are to go into battle with broomsticks and they are to chant 'gun!','gun!', 'gun!', as they march towards the enemy (you get the picture). So they are all a bit sceptical but being stout hearted Tommies of the first water they do as they are told. So with the training done, they are taken to the front and when the signal comes they all stand up and walk slowly towards the enemy trenches, chanting, 'gun!', 'gun!', 'gun!'. Suddenly the enemy comes into sight and as they get closer the British Tommies can hear them chanting, 'tank!', 'tank!', 'tank!'.

The joke seems to be about the enemy always having better kit, or are just
that little bit more ambitious - even with their delusions.

So where was I, with no Villa to fret about?

Oh, yeah.

I see the Red Scouse are about to take the Yankee dollar. How times have changed. It would have been unthinkable not so long ago, when clubs were a measure of all things local. No doubt they will carry on singing their Gerry & The Pacemakers anthem and allow themselves to be dragged along by the juggernaut of globalisation, while slurping their Budd and wearing their Nike dancing shoes but how many are singing I Like It, remains unclear but at five grand a share, it brings a new meaning to the phrase, the Moore's the merrier.

Liverpool always had a particularly strong brand but I am told that they are as blandly rich as everyone else these days and all that Sixties kitsch belongs well and truly in the past.

The willingness of the fans to go the whole hog, or so we are told, seems like a measure of the desperation they must feel, at the knowledge that winning the Premiership has become such a fading pipe dream - an incredible realisation for a set of fans who got used to thinking it was a bad year, if they happened not to win it.

The whole hog turns out to be a brand new ground in the middle of Stanley park, casting an even bigger red shadow over the blue half of the city. Presumably they are busy changing those notices to 'This was Anfield' as we speak and the Shankly gates will be set up as a shrine. Sentiments aside, this is certainly going large in the ambition stakes and a brave grasping of the nettle by the fans. But gone are the days when you could buy a star striker from Doncaster or Chester City and rule the roost.

A measure of their ambition was revealed when they opened the books and announced that the club is living with a debt of 80 million squid, which I found quite staggering - Liverpool's debts are greater than the market value of Aston Villa football club. This stark reminder of the scale of things in the Premiership, may not be all that surprising but - putting it in another way - Liverpool managed to accumulate this staggering debt, while getting all that lovely dosh from the Champions League, year after year; which indicates the sort of money they must have been spending in pursuit of that ambition. The willingness of the fans to believe that they can get a new ground and that all debt will somehow disappear, is just typical of the daftness of football fans. But there is a habit in Liverpool - if a guy wants something he usually just goes out and gets it.

You'll never talk a loan.

The curious thing is, looking very much from the outside, were there any players Liverpool failed to sign, which would have transformed them from their recent perennial fourth, to Champions? From this end of the telescope, it always looked like they bought who they wanted and carry on doing so. Surely if they had the resources to win the Champions League, they had enough resources to win the domestic league. Surely, moving to a new ground will not substantially change the problems within the club - the usual and too familiar absence of that magic ingredient X.

What it does do though, besides giving them a bit more leeway in mismanaging their resources, is consolidate their position and stamp on the fingers of those clubs so eagerly scrambling up the greasy-pole so close behind them. With a single bound they increase their income stream and 'exclusive'suddenly becomes the operative word, as regards the top four of the division. Suddenly, Villa's little injection of fortune begins to look less like a passport to Europe and beyond, and more like a realistic guarantee of survival in the top half of the table - not much more. But as the success gurus will tell you - the belief in a limitation of supply, is what holds the rest of us back.

The top four does seem to take on a strange look and until I see some convincing Indian rope trick, which proves that it is possible to make debts disappear into thin air, I have to assume that every club except Chelsea hold on to their supra-elite status with a combined debt of something near a billion quid. I can see why Doug Ellis might have been confused by such things but the only conclusion is that the income from mere Champions League participation is so substantial, that servicing a debt of a few hundred million, while still paying out the big bucks for players, is all easily manageable.

But didn't Real Madrid have a debt of 200 million - from their habit of walking the walk? Isn't it always pissing in the wind?

There are signs though that even England's elite clubs are beginning to feel the strain as the cracks begin to appear at Arsenal, and Man United's season seemed to depend on the signing of Larsson, who as classy as he no doubt is, just didn't look like the sort of move that you expect from the 'biggest club in the world'. It was the sort of move I associate with Villa in the latter part of Doug's reign - the half a loaf that is better than none. Are we witnessing some kind of dot-com boom as crazy rich people follow the competitive fashion of dispensing with the Rolex and enjoying the status of an English football club dangling from the key ring?

With three English clubs in the Champions League quarter finals, there is reasonable cause to assume that the quality in the Premiership is enjoying a new high but can they sustain it. Italy was once the golden calf of European football but not any more - can it happen here?

Rich people are no less prone to mad impulses as the rest of us and as a Scouser might say, 'They do though, don't they though'.

By Steve Wade

Writer:J P Fear
Date:Sunday March 11 2007
Time: 3:16PM


For once I'm inclined to agree with Doug. When you consider what has been paid for West Ham and Liverpool, Randy Lerner got Villa on the cheap and with no debt to service, resources can be directed at the playing side. May be, just may be, Doug really did sell in the best interests of the club!!! A statement that I can't quite come to terms with but, could be time to cut the old boy some slack?
13/03/2007 07:42:00
Nah. Glad he's gone. Doug was nothing more than an egotist and a liar, and he held the club back. I agree that his selling the club was in the club's best interests, but then again his ownership and direction of the club was never in the best interest of Villa.
The Usual Suspect
13/03/2007 14:22:00
These articles need to be compiled into a book. They are well worth reading, re-reading, and then reading again.
06/08/2007 16:49:00
Page 1/1
  1. 1

Login to post a comment

Recent Aston Villa Articles

More Reliable Than A Championship Octopus? (22/2/17)

Time for the new special computer that crunches the numbers to determine the final Championship positions for 2016/17.

The Villa Times - 21/02/2017 (Aston Villa News Round-up)

The latest Aston Villa news and views via the fishy one..

Video Highlights - Fans/Bruce Reactions - Stats - Tweets

Post match ... arrgghhhh basically. Video, stats and the rest.

Villa Fans Not Exactly Happy At Yet Another Loss (Reactions)

Post Newcastle loss Villa fan reactions.

Archived Vital Villa Articles

Vital Villa articles from

Site Journalists

J P Fear
Editor email
Mike Field
Editor email
Steve Wade
no email
no email
Turkish Penguin
no email
no email
Chris Heath
no email
M Calucar
no email
JuanPablo Angel
no email

Current Poll (see more polls)

Staying Up
Suggested By: JP Fear
yes, staying up43%
no, going down27%
too close to call at the moment30%
ScoopDragon Publishing Entire League Network of Sites

League Table

# Team P W D L Pts. GD
1 Newcastle 32 22 3 7 69 37
2 Brighton 32 20 8 4 68 28
3 Huddersfield 32 20 4 8 64 8
4 Reading 33 18 6 9 60 5
5 Leeds Utd 33 18 4 11 58 11
6 Sheff Wed 33 17 7 9 58 10
7 Norwich 33 15 6 12 51 11
8 Fulham 31 13 10 8 49 15
9 Barnsley 33 14 7 12 49 4
10 Preston 33 13 10 10 49 4
11 Derby County 32 13 9 10 48 7
12 Cardiff 33 13 6 14 45 -2
13 Ipswich 33 10 11 12 41 -7
14 Brentford 32 11 7 14 40 0
15 Q.P.R. 33 11 7 15 40 -10
16 Birmingham 33 10 10 13 40 -14
17 Aston Villa 32 8 12 12 36 -8
18 Forest 33 10 6 17 36 -12
19 Wolves 31 9 8 14 35 -4
20 Burton 33 9 8 16 35 -13
21 Bristol City 31 9 5 17 32 -4
22 Wigan 33 7 9 17 30 -10
23 Blackburn 31 7 8 16 29 -13
24 Rotherham 33 4 5 24 17 -43
Vital Football Comment
Latest F1 News
Allison announced at Mercedes
Latest Vital Boxing News
Washington Aiming to Beat Wilder this Saturday
Write for Vital Football

Recent Aston Villa Results (view all)

Aston Villa Fixtures (view all)

Feb 25 2017 3:00PM : Derby County (H)
Sky Bet Championship
Feb 28 2017 7:45PM : Bristol City (H)
Sky Bet Championship
Mar 4 2017 3:00PM : Rotherham United (a)
Sky Bet Championship
Mar 7 2017 7:45PM : Huddersfield Town (a)
Sky Bet Championship
Mar 11 2017 3:00PM : Sheffield Wednesday (H)
Sky Bet Championship
Mar 18 2017 3:00PM : Wigan Athletic (a)
Sky Bet Championship

Vital Members League Table

1.The Fear354
5.Melon Donkey178
The Vital Football Members League