Something For The Weekend (297)
It feels a bit like Christmas has come early, being a Villa fan right now, as there is a wonderful array of beautifully wrapped parcels glinting in the lights under the tree; and they could be anything. They could be remote-controlled helicopters and missile-firing tanks to scare the cat, and there could be fancy bottles of scotch guaranteed to tingle the tonsils to orgasm at the first sip. There could be all sorts of stuff you never knew you wanted but are in fact, the one thing your life is missing.
But who are you kidding - its a pair of socks and aftershave, noxious enough to ward off vampires.
So it is, with the waiting game, to see who Villa's new manager is going to be. The store has run out of Jose Mourinhos and there is just not a lot left and we know its going to be Alan Curbishley, or someone else who is not on the wish-list. It could be Gareth Southgate, which would be like buying us a present from a petrol station forecourt. Or, It could even be our very own Mac, which would be like getting last year's present, re-wrapped.
Whoever it turns out to be, it looks like we will be required to express our delight when the parcel is opened. We'll hear that age-old chorus of, all we are saying is give him a chance.
We understand the budget limits and constraints of the givers, so like finding out your Christmas present is sponsoring a goat in Africa, we might just have to satisfy ourselves that it might not be what we wanted but can console ourselves that we are being virtuous, in doing the right thing.
Sometimes getting a goat can really get your goat.
We all read the advert and we all know it is a money thing, from certain expressions about working with the current squad.
Depending on who is doing the adding up, and how they value Stephen Ireland, Mr Lerner's net spend on players can vary a bit but it tends to hover round the £65m, over the four seasons since the project began.
The question as to whether that was enough to make a confident challenge for a top-four place, is open to debate, depending on whether you believe in miracles or not.
But it is enough to shake a whole-hearted belief in Father Christmas.
So it looks like I will have to do my best to pull the right face, when I get to open my Christmas box, and show how much I appreciate my bottle of Saddle Sore for Men and a pair of cartoon socks, while knowing that the General's dad gave him real helicopters to play with.
I don't expect to be thunderstruck:
Thunderstruck, maybe not, but at least I am grateful for small mercies and beating Everton was the best present the Villa boys could have given me, as we entered a fortnight's International break.
The idea of a whole fortnight to dwell on yet another defeat, represented more misery than I am willing to own up to, and whether we have the blessings of the gods to thank, lady luck, or Brad Friedel; the three points were a massive relief for the club and the fans, and lifted a huge weight of gloom off everyone concerned.
It allowed the club's management to retreat behind some substantial flummery (look, we are fourth), while giving time and respite for the fans to work through the grief they are undoubtedly feeling, about the end of a dream. As every grief counsellor knows full well, it is not something which can be rushed, and we must all pass through the stages of, denial, anger, bargaining and depression, before we reach acceptance.
Some fans are still in denial but when the new manager is named, they will start their journey towards acceptance - we hope.
Every manager will arrive with a subtext and his appointment will make a strong statement about Lerner's vision for the club.
If the club is to horse-trade its way to over-achievement on a budget, then I would have thought that Curbishley would represent the most honest statement of intent, while the likes of Gerard Houllier would muddy the water a little, with his European appeal perhaps distracting Villa fans from the criticism he endured at Liverpool, for his one-dimensional play and neglect of the youth set-up. The appointment of Kevin MacDonald would look like an easy option, which avoided the almost impossible task of choosing a manager all the fans approved of. Appointing Southgate, would be demonstrating that perhaps someone was of the view, that having played for the club and been seen doing punditry on the TV, was qualification enough.
Ideally, a manager who was as adored as Brian Little and had the reputation for playing football like Big Ron, would be a shoo-in, but no such Chimera exists as far as I know.
It represents a huge test for Lerner and no one should be in any doubt that picking the right manager is perhaps the most difficult thing to take on. Doug Ellis might have hired some superb managers in his time but he had more
practice than most, and his early failures more than made up for his later successes.
And Doug never seemed to be bothered too much about being the fans' sweetheart.
It all adds up to an awful lot of pressure.
This is ourselves under pressure, under pressure, pressure.
Give Lerner one more chance.
Keep the faith!