Something For The Weekend (384)
Out of the dark abyss and onto the sunlit uplands of a new age of vibrancy for Villa. That's what they are saying down at headquarters but I am not sure if it is a promise or not. We've just endured the humiliation of a Dunkirk retreat and I suppose we have to expect some Churchillian hyperbole by way of encouragement.
But, to be honest, I am not sure that I am quite ready to be cheered up right now. The last two years have been too much of a souring experience to break out the party-poppers just yet, and even if Villa manage to get someone which a majority can agree is the right man for the job, its going to take a lot more than a smile and some winning rhetoric to transform the mood.
Even so, they can't really start the process of restoring our trust in Villa's upper-management, until there is a team manager in place and finding those willing for the Villa shilling, looks like it might not be as easy as we had assumed.
OGS decided he could not forsake his fjord, while it seems Villa were intent on not offering the job, unless acceptance was a certainty. So in short, Villa didn't offer the job and therefore OGS could not have declined it and the honour of all parties was preserved in a dance of diplomatic niceties, every bit as subtle as a royal offer of marriage .
We must assume that a similar ritual will have to be gone through, with other candidates, which seems to promise complications, as managers who are already employed have to declare an interest, see what Villa's package looks like and then risk appearing disloyal to the fans of the club where they are already working, even if they turn it down.
Whatever the financial inducements might be, all candidates know the fate of managers who are seen to have failed at Villa, and they must decide whether the Villa job is likely to give their reputation an upward trajectory or a downward. Even the fans have no real idea whether Villa plan to sign any players in the near future, or not, and I don't expect any putative candidate will either.
The mass exodus has left any new manager with a barebones squad, which might provide the basis of a first-eleven but what looks like insufficient resources, if a repeat of last season is to be avoided. The departing shot of Carlos Cuéllar seems to show that the Villa policy was to ship out the O'Neill signings, like they were trying to rid themselves of some kind of infestation. The Villa top brass had been trying to off-load Carlo for quite a while, as they implemented their purge and if he hadn't been injured he would have returned to Rangers last summer.
He will definitely be missed.
Villa completed the latest stage of their on-going purge by showing the door to Emile Heskey and Brad Guzan, who must now seek employment elsewhere. If Emile was judged by his willingness to graft for his team, rather than his goal-scoring record, he would be listed amongst the best, but as a striker, he must carry the striker's burden of being constantly judged by his goal-record, and if it was less than spectacular at other clubs he played for, where he consistently managed one goal every four games, it headed for the abysmal at Villa where it slumped to one in ten.
Brad Guzan had some memorable cup outings with Villa and looked quite decent at times, even though he was occasionally guilty of the odd rick. At 27 he really needs to be moving on and establishing himself at a club, he's getting too long in the tooth to be playing second-fiddle to the likes of Brad Senior or Shay Given, and I am sure every Villa fan will wish him all the best.
Although the departure of the old war-horses will excite the headlines and provoke the most debate, its not really possible to get too animated by the disappointments of some hardened professionals in their thirties. They have enjoyed their triumphs and have been richly rewarded; its the young academy lads who you can't help feeling sorry for. It's the lads like, Seb Jenkins, Reece Caira, Ebby Nelson Addy, Connor Taylor, Charlie Ward, Richard Bryan, Matthew Coton and Darious Darkin who were also released, and who invite the sigh.
No doubt the disappointment will be killing but they just have to think of the likes of Gary Cahill and Daniel Sturridge, who were discarded by Villa and a few years later are winning FA Cup and Champions League medals.
However, I am not sure who will feel sorry for the fans as they wait patiently for the plans for next season to be unpacked over the summer. There will be all the Olympics guff to put up with. There will be the chance to witness excellence in the European Championships, although probably not from England. There are the summer holidays to look forward to but we will just have to wait until September to see what Villa's prospects are likely to be for next season.
It's 60 years since HRH became queen and 30 years since Villa lifted the European Cup, on the 26th of May 1982.
It seems that none of us are quite what we used to be.