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Something For The Weekend (295)



My guess is as good as anyone's.



Its been a fascinating week, and a bit, since Martin O'Neill left the club, not least of which is that with speculation and guesswork being the only option on offer, its been a time for revealing the individual temperaments of each and every Villa fan.

As things stand, the Villa optimists prevail.

Like some extraordinary polygraph test, every aspect of individual personalities has been revealed. Levels of pessimism, optimism, loyalty, credulity and even the tendency to ignore what has been said, when establishing a personal standpoint, have become clear.

Its been amazing stuff and it is at times like this, that you learn exactly who you are dealing with, just by seeing how emotionally attached someone is to a particular view of events.

The biggest revelation is that the rumours that Villa fans are pessimistic Jeremiahs are completely untrue, and their ability to make optimistic prognostications based on very little indeed has been truly stunning. It has to be accepted that the Lerner charm-offensive has been hugely successful in washing away the cynicism, which was the mark of your average Villa fan, for as long as I can remember.

Its been truly amazing but I think I rather miss the old skool.

I have to say that I feel sorry for Kevin MacDonald, or, Albert as Lawro tells us he's called. He's just been put in charge of a squad full of moaners, who have had their wildest dreams come true, and he's stuck with the problem of picking a team, while not sending the message that moaning is a useful strategy, to those who think they have a divine-right to a place in the starting-eleven.

I suppose it has to be assumed that when every member of the senior coaching staff depart with the manager en bloc, and just leave the youth team coach behind, then they agree with the reasoning behind their man's departure. Normally, there is usually an assistant manager to take over the reins in the interim but not so this time.

So Villa's Prince Regent looks lumbered and I hope he's getting paid the going rate for the job and has had his parking place upgraded, so he doesn't have to walk quite so far to the ground.

Gladly, he's doing rather well but we know what happened the last time Albert met the Lion(s).



His team cruised to an easy win over West Ham on Saturday and one of his boys was the star of the show. West Ham were not exactly the worst team, with the worst kind of record at Villa Park, to test a manager's credentials, but a three-nil win brought a huge sigh of relief all round, as certain players had to prove that they were worth the previous manager's job, or at least the leaving-party they held for him, in his absence.

Kevin even managed to make the right kind of noises to welcome Randy Lerner's new signing, Stephen Ireland, to Villa Park, and spoke enthusiastically about the prospect of the future arrival of a quarterback and wide-receiver, some time soon.

The fans welcome young Stephen to Villa Park and note that his reputation, as being as mad as a sack of frogs, as compared with the departing James Milner's model professionalism, is quite refreshing. Grannygate and Stevie's egregious taste for pimped-up Bentley's, indicate that he is just the sort of role model Villa's youngsters have been crying out for, these past years. He has been known to play a bit, when in the right mood, so fingers are crossed for the Villa faithful.

Let's just hope he fits in with any future manager's plans.

By the time Villa turned up in Vienna with a team which looked weaker than O'Neill's notorious Moscow fiasco, of a few years ago, Kevin was looking quite the master of his domain, as he gave everyone who said they should play, a game. But no one can say that it didn't finish with a happy ending.

I am not sure whether the travelling fans will be demanding a refund this time round but it did seem like a worthwhile exercise. The kids were good in patches and Curtis Davies was asking for the German translation of pub player (Kneipe Spieler) in his post-match interview. He wasn't being modest either.

But Kevin's team did enough to bring a draw back to Villa Park, where presumably, most of Villa's best eleven will be available for the second-leg, unless they have another note from their mom.

In the meantime Villa must try and poop the party at Newcastle, as the barcodes hope to create some grounds for optimism for the season, in their first home game back in the Premiership.

Its a big challenge for our Kevin because should Villa win, he might find himself being threatened with the Villa manager's job, again. If he's offered the job, surely he would have to take it? What's the worst that can happen? He gets an enhanced contract to boost his funds, and if he fails he just returns to what the world knows he's brilliant at. No-brainer?

The going rate for a Premiership manager of a club of Villa's status, is probably about 1.5m a year - 12 months at that rate would do him quite nicely, I would have thought. The responsibility is daunting though and no doubt the workload is equally so. But he's still a young man (49) and so its unlikely to kill him. And presumably, now that someone else seems to be buying the players, the load has been lightened somewhat.

Amusingly, he has been a caretaker manager before and with a Villa connection - he took over from Brian Little when he left Leicester to join the Villa in 1994. And with another Villa connection - he was Stan Staunton's assistant for The Republic Of Ireland.

So his Villa credentials are pretty sound by any reasonable measure.

No doubt, with Villa's ambitions for the season being mostly about consolidation, Randy Lerner will surely take his time to get what he thinks is the best manager for Villa. He'll be keen to tread cautiously, as I am sure he will be determined to avoid the criticism he endured at the Browns, when Sports Illustrated's Joe Posnanski, described Eric Mangini as the worst coaching hire of the past 25 years. Obviously, this Posnanski fellah, has never heard of Billy McNeill's Villa career.

As we await to see which way that particular cookie crumbles, we can only hope for more of what we saw from Villa on Saturday.

More goals and more points.



Keep the faith!
The Journalist

Writer: Steve Wade Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Friday August 20 2010

Time: 5:47PM

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