Something For The Weekend (387)
So another international tournament ended with another triumph for the Spanish and they certainly seemed to be worth every troy ounce of that silver trophy, even if the reportage tended to discount Italy's bad luck, as they heaped on the superlatives and transmuted fact into the preferred mythology, which always tends to sweep away the vagaries and uncertainties which was the reality.
Really, it was not certain that Italy would not score the goal which might have let them back into the game, until Torres's 84th minute killer, and it actually didn't transform into a foregone conclusion until the final whistle had actually blown.
I definitely wanted Spain to win because wanting anything else would have involved the perverse desire of wanting the lesser team to win, which I especially reserve for when Villa are the lesser team.
In the final at least, the Spanish were fabulous, with Iniesta and Fabregas being amongst the players of the tournament. Obviously, Pirlo was superb too and it certainly was strange to be so familiar with Balotelli, that he felt like one of our own.
Watching the Spanish snuff out the creativity of Pirlo was quite a football education, as it proved that even the best players can't do much if they are forced to play with their heads down, rather than heads up, when they can pick the pass.
Worthy winners as the Spanish proved to be, I didn't quite think Torres deserved the Golden Boot, because coming on late in the game, after your team has pummelled the opposition to a legless pulp, and tapping in a goal, just doesn't seem to be on the same level and import as Shevchenko's brace for Ukraine, Balotelli's semi-final-winning contribution or even Mario Gómez's three goals from less than a minute of possession.
Torres, appropriately played the part of the Torero (the matador) who steps in to apply the killing sword-thrust, after the poor animal has been broken by a troop of Banderilleros and Picadors. The strutting of the matador never seems quite right.
There were certainly more thrilling strikers who lit up the tournament, and no striker made me smile more than Zlatan Ibrahimovic. It was just brilliant seeing him bully the likes of John Terry, who are so used to doing the bullying, and his volley against France was a wonderful combination of technique and power.
Anyone interested in seeing Zlatan as a big soft lad might watch this series of videos (1st of 5)
The tournament was certainly an interesting one for Villans because there was a surprising number of present and former Villa players on show, from the majestic bearded one for Sweden, Milan Baros (most fouls in minutes played) for the Czech Republic, and Villa's Irish contingent, who managed to upset Roy Keane rather more than was reasonable.
Then there were England's Ashley Young and James Milner, who did us all a favour by playing in such a way, which might have made even their most loyal fans, wonder why we rated them so highly. Even so, as poor as James Milner was, he still remains the one player I would gladly welcome back at Villa, to energise the midfield and drive the team forward, like the Duracell rabbit that he most certainly is.
And while I am indulging my wishful-thinking, I would love Villa to sign Andy Carroll. There is something about the big gallute which I just love, and if Liverpool were to find him surplus to requirements now that they are in their new era of tiki-taka, I would love to see him in a Villa shirt.
Unfortunately that is not going to happen because Villa are not shopping at Harrods these days and Paul Lambert seems to be shopping for bargains, as he seeks to bolster Villa's depleted squad.
Villa are in a fascinating position as regards their finances and it certainly looks like the club are due to start making a profit come 2014, as the results of slashing the wage-bill, converge with the fantastically lucrative new TV deal the Premiership have negotiated, which starts in 2014. This amounts to 70% increase in TV revenue for the Premiership and means that even if Villa finish no higher than last season, they will earn £60m from television alone, which is as much as Man City got for winning the title in May.
This extra £20m minimum a season should bring Villa within compliance with the FFR's, and should give the club some fantastic opportunities and a number of options. Will they just waste it on even bigger wages, like most Premiership clubs have done, as their incomes have grown, or will they use the money to redevelop the North Stand?
Obviously this money increases the gap between the Villa and the top four, because of the way it is shared out, but it definitely consolidates Villa's position, because it increases the gap between themselves and the Championship. Villa's television income will be at least ten times that of Championship sides without access to parachute payments. So while Villa get their £60m, clubs in the Championship won't get into double-figures.
All interesting stuff and it would be fascinating to see if this extra money changes Randy Lerner's vision for the club.
Anyway, in the meantime, Villa probably don't need to spend too much on players because if they can get their best players on the pitch and with the fans behind them, Villa have a fairly decent side, and should certainly be able to finish in the top-half, this coming season.
Of course, we all dream of the excellence of Spain but after last season, most fans will settle for what they can get and take their consolations where they can find them.
So Spanish hopes but British weather..