Something For The Weekend (374)
Villa made a bit of a meal of their tussle with Fulham but gladly Gardner dug one out, and Schwarzer laid it on a plate (a rare black mark for the Australian) and Villa's Viennese Wunderkind Weimann, arrived just at the right Harry Lime, to bundle the rebound into the back of the net, and prompt the Villans to break into loud choruses sung in full ultravox.
It certainly was a sweet moment for all Villans of a nervous disposition, as another draw would have equalled or surpassed some ancient record run of defeats, which was set by the depleted and shell-shocked Villa team, in the years after that oddly named slaughter, known as the Great War.
It certainly came as a big relief to Villa's much-criticised manager, and it certainly had a familiar McLeish look about the whole thing. Although the name of the goal-scorer was new, it was remarkably similar to Obafemi Martins' infamous winner against Arsenal, and one or two injury-time winners scored by Liam Ridgewell in his days as a bluenose. So it was no surprise that McLeish took so much personal credit for the goal.
But say what you like, it was a goal which certainly put a bit of meat on Villa's Schnitzel sandwich, in a game which looked, right up to Weimann's intervention, likely to offer no more than a clean-sheet and single point as its only consolation.
Even though it was an, oh so, desperately needed win and bought Villa a bit more of a safety-margin, it was not the sort of performance which is likely to change too many Villa minds. What many Villa fans still want, is the club to buy some cream and serve it up with a nice portion of Sackertorte.
Whatever, I can't say I have seen a player looking happier than young Weimann did at the end of the game, and from what someone told me, his Wiki page was updated within minutes of his goal, by either himself, some devoted Villa fan, or his proud folks back home. Unless, amongst Villa's ever-increasing number of staff, there is now a Wiki updating department?
Of course, what the lad probably doesn't know, is that there is a saying amongst Villa's old fart brigade, that the team is never quite right without an Andy in it, and whether that Andy happens to be a Gray, a Lochead (70 last week), a Blair, or a Townsend, Villa's most celebrated glory days have often been when there was an Andy in the team.
So welcome to the pantheon, Andy Weimann.
Judging by the list of loanees and Bosmans being offered up for the Villa rumour mill by the papers, it looks very much like Villa are to going to be highly dependent on youth, when they make their challenge for Europe next season.
Every player who is coming to the end of a contract in the summer is being linked with Villa, and the Holman deal suggests that Villa are determined to avoid paying a fee, if at all possible. Jean Makoun is still a Villa player and if he can't be sold, it would suggest that Villa are paying him big wages no one else can match. His meagre tally of appearances for Olympiacos suggest he's either injured or failed to impress.
Villa wasted a hell of lot of money buying and paying a few too many non-entities, for their own good, and sadly, according to my understanding, its not actually possible to spend the same money more than once, despite the claims of certain people I know.
No doubt we could all come up with some more productive projects for Lerner's £100m, than many of the players, who added to their personal millions by mainly hanging out with the stiffs. Certainly, redeveloping the North Stand, might have been a better investment but as mentioned above, not even billionaires can spend their money more than once.
Obviously, if Villa are going to follow Barcelona's example and create their own (Vil)la Masia, then any investment looks better value than enriching any number of bench-warmers and money-grabbers. It seems unlikely that Villa could produce three candidates for the Ballon d'Or in a single team (Messi, Iniesta and Xavi) but producing some players at least as good as some of the dross, Villa paid so dearly for, does not seem too much of an extravagant aspiration.
Barcelona's La Masia costs around £5m a year, which is less than the fee plus wages, O'Neill's collection of duffers cost the Villa every year. Villa don't need to spend that much but if their success rate is anything like Barcelona's, it still means that 10% of the graduates will be good enough to play for the First Team.
What's more any investment in the youth academy is not counted in UEFA's FFRs.
Now that every club will be frozen at their current level in Football's new caste system, it would seem that Villa are in desperate need of a brand new USP. Trying to emulate Barcelona would seem a bit delusional but learning a few lessons from Athletic Bilbao would seem a sensible route, if Villa are to escape the self-limiting money game, which keeps everyone in their place in the Premiership. The size of Athletic Bilbao's ground (40k) and the value of their squad (£115m), all seem to put them on par with Villa (£115m see Transfermarkt). The fact that they completely out-played Man United in their two-legged Europa League tie, seems to prove that a lot more is possible for Villa, than the present prejudices and orthodoxies suggest.
Whether it is Swansea's tiqui-taka on a budget, or the array of small clubs, who play in Europe and who look technically superior to the too many Premiership clubs to mention, all the indications are, that the Premiership is not quite as good as we allow ourselves to believe, or allow ourselves to be intimidated by.
Some club needs to break the mould and defy expectations and limitations, and that club could be Villa.
Keep the faith!
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