Aston Villa - Something For The Weekend (403)
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Something For The Weekend (403)

Hand in hand...

As Villa sank into the bottom-three and took on the look of something strange in the toilet bowl which might or might not flush, despair ran through the Villa ranks, as the reality dawned, at the true predicament of a club which has learnt to take its Premiership status for granted, since relegation was an all too familiar experience in the bad old 1980s.

Worse still was their team's defeat at Man City, where no amount of outrage at the decision of an ocularly-challenged official could cover up Villa's deficiencies, it became clear that the Villa owner's decision to play fast and loose with Villa's elite status is reaping the nemesis it so clearly invites, as once again a club suffering from self-destructive tendencies, found that match officials are all too willing to help them complete their project.

With no other mechanism to punish his failure and no other way to acknowledge his responsibility, Paul Lambert took the only recourse available to him; he gave the guilty official a blast of Scottish invective and took his eight-grand fine and one match ban, as proof that he was responsible and cared. And a finer piece of pragmatism, will be hard to find.

As a piece of strategy it certainly seemed to work, as at least a few Villa fans were happy to spend their week raging about the injustice of the idiot with the flag, rather than the shortcomings of their team's performance.

Man City are not great these days, as they proved by exiting the Champions League in mid-week, but even with their obvious problems against good teams, their 400m squad was always going to have too much for Villa. But obviously, when Villa deliberately deny themselves the use of 30m worth of talent due to the club policy of cold-shouldering the high-earners, the gap between the Premier League's zillionaires was always going to be greater than might be expected, and it showed. But obviously the damage was done to Villa when they were drawing and losing to lesser teams than Man City.

Just as it is said that the Chinese are apt to utter the phrase, 'May you live in interesting times', as a curse, so it seems that things are going to be quite interesting for Villa for the rest of the season.

It seems certain that the fans are definitely behind the manager and are surprisingly positive about the players. After all, the players can't be blamed for not being top class and the only thing the manager can be found guilty of, is repeating the same terminological inexactitude as the last manage, by his failure to make it clear to the fans the true plans of the boardroom. Like every other manager he encouraged the fans to dream and cough up their dough, when he knew that there was quite a disparity between what he knew those dreams were and what was possible given the amount of money allocated by the owner.

If we judge the club by its actions rather than its rhetoric, we have to assume that the club has decided that it cannot afford to buy any player now playing for a Premiership club. That the club with the 7th highest turnover in the Premiership (2010-11) can only afford to compete with Championship clubs, when it comes to buying and paying players. Sadly all this has been obfuscated by the club's claim that it is merely responding to the financial fair-play regulations. All this at a time when the club's income from television is set to grow by at least 60%, in 2014 (should Villa still be a Premiership club).

The really astounding thing about this is the willingness of the fans to believe that all this still has something to do with money spent by Martin O'Neill in 2008-9. The fact that every single one of those signings, except Brad Guzan, has left the club, is not enough to persuade them that Villa are not still paying their wages.

So when a club like Villa with a turnover of 92m (last figures) claims that it is only capable of competing with Championship clubs with turnovers which typically, for the bigger clubs, range from 20m to 30m (Leeds United), no one can be blamed for being slightly sceptical. If a fan was to conclude that someone is taking the wee-wee, it would be difficult to dispute their conclusion.

Therefore, as the fans are left to bet the farm on beating Reading on Tuesday, having rather less hope of getting anything from the Arsenal game on Saturday, no one can be blamed for wondering what exactly is the owner's vision for Villa.

From the evidence Villa's owner does not lay awake at night dreaming of Barcelona, or even Everton. It looks like whatever vision he had, and he certainly had one a few years ago, has been replaced by the idea that Villa can be run like any other business and performance should be judged by the bottom line and nothing else. He certainly isn't turning up to many matches these days and so it seems he just wants the club to tick over within an accountant's comfort-zone, where come what may, no one is going to be asking for funds outside his financial plan.

What it looks like, is that Villa are geared up for Premiership survival if possible, or for panic-free relegation, where the loss of revenue would fall comfortably within present financial parameters. Like an owner of some classic or vintage car he has set Villa up as an interesting exhibit in a museum, with instructions to give it a gentle run round the block to keep it working, but don't do anything to strain it.

If this is true, and it looks likely, then the fans can at least feel reassured that things are going exactly to plan, and there would be no point in making a fuss about it. The club is perfectly safe and they can face the possibility of relegation with perfect equanimity.

The thing about a club going into gradual decline, is that the disappointments build and build like a form of mithridatism, and gradually you find yourself gradually more and more immune to the shame and humiliation, which every memory of former glory, pride, boastfulness and condescension brings.

Almost certainly the worst, is having to endure the sympathy. This has already started and it is noticeable these days, that the pundits don't argue about whether Villa are a good team or bad, they just ask whether there are three worse teams.

So it seems that there is just no point in moaning about a situation which looks so similar to situations in the past, and just do what Villa fans have always done, just leave the rich men to do what they tend to do (let people down) and get on with supporting who ever is wearing the shirts.

Yep, it's what we do...going down...hand in hand:

Keep the faith!
The Journalist

Writer: Steve Wade Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Friday November 23 2012

Time: 5:35PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

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Agreed, said the same, players are putting in the effort, not their fault if they aren't good enough (or aren't good enough yet) seems a great amount of patience about, not something we are used to seeing in footie is it?
The Fear
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23/11/2012 17:40:00

Patience not something in huge supply in football, absolutely. Does it always have to be that way? No. I have never understood fans who go into paroxysms of elation or despair on the turn of a result. Surely the joy of being a football fan is to support a team blindly. Then you generally get a lot of disappointment but occasionally moments of sheer pleasure. Sometimes decisions are wrong, witness the CoE's debacle over women bishops, but will this mean that all of a sudden people are going to become atheists? Which brings me back to patience: It's not expensive and all fans can afford it. Lambert is good manager, Randy, despite his recent penury, is a good chairman and we have good players. At some point we are going to produce a string, 2-3, of wins, we just need the patience. The faux punditry of some contributors who slag of Lambert and Randy, always makes me ask the question: When did you put your application in for the job? It's not blind loyalty, I could never reconcile myself with the Scottish Voldermort, going back to the earlier analogy, he is the Church laity, backward looking and obsessed with tradition, but these things pass. Looking forward to the future because it's the only thing we don't know about and you never know it could be a bright one.
Mervin King's Pocket
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24/11/2012 10:46:00

It is true that fans are amazingly loyal but there is such a thing as burn-out and although fans will always have their club in their hearts, they are not above deciding they are wasting their money.
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24/11/2012 11:57:00

Normally I enjoy this weekly offering, but not today. I disagree with most of the content and certainly the tone. Villa are no longer a big spending club, that much is true, but I believe the policy has been stated often enough. Villa will continue to buy youthful players with the potential to be top quality players. We will hopefully mould these young players into a very good team and as they reach their potential they will be sold on to big money clubs and the next young player will take their place in the Villa side. In this way Villa will continue to be a prosperous financially self supporting club with a long and bright future. I prefer to support a team of young prospects rather than a Man City team of overpaid showponies.
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24/11/2012 14:44:00

Stop telling the truth...
Report Abuse
24/11/2012 15:17:00

Thinking back it's difficult to think of many Villa players who might be described as 'showponies'. I suppose David Ginola perhaps and he definitely looked out of place in a Villa shirt. Villa have always preferred cruder and more robust players. It is no coincidence that the two ex Villa players Man City have in their squad are the least technically able, in Barry and Milner, who often look out of place amongst the thoroughbreds. The tin-bashers of Witton tend not to aspire to sophistication in their football players.
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24/11/2012 21:27:00

This quote sums up modern football; (RIP R. di Matteo). 'There was this kid I grew up with; he was younger than me. Sorta looked up to me, you know. We did our first work together, worked our way out of the street. Things were good, we made the most of it. During Prohibition, we ran molasses into Canada... made a fortune, your father, too. As much as anyone, I loved him and trusted him. Later on he had an idea to build a city out of a desert stop-over for GI's on the way to the West Coast. That kid's name was Moe Greene, and the city he invented was Las Vegas. This was a great man, a man of vision and guts. And there isn't even a plaque, or a signpost or a statue of him in that town! SOMEONE...put a bullet through his eye. No one knows who gave the order. When I heard it, I wasn't angry; I knew Moe, I knew he was headstrong, talking loud, saying stupid things. So when he turned up dead, I let it go. And I said to myself, this is the business we've chosen. I didn't ask who gave the order, because it had nothing to do with business!'
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24/11/2012 23:18:00

Villa are now a club with aspirations to be Swansea or, perhaps, West Brom. Bloody Marvelous!!!!
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24/11/2012 23:35:00

Would you rather Villa were Portsmouth or Leeds ?
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25/11/2012 08:21:00

obfuscated! Blimey
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25/11/2012 11:58:00

Swansea and West Brom are progressive sides actually. Good luck to em'. Particularly admire The Baggies.
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25/11/2012 18:51:00

a tad too negative...even by your standards Steve
Bangkok Villan
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26/11/2012 05:28:00

Difficult times yes impossible to turn round NO! We have a manager who has the backing of I believe the majority of our fans, who appreciate just what a tough job he has taken on (yes I admit some of us are gratefull for PL given the idiots this board as previosly appointed) The big questions will be answered I feel over the next few weeks if we do not produce decent results then I am sure PL will enter the transfer market in January at this time we will find out if he is getting financial backing from the board and not before.It could be worse we could have Benitaz what good would a cheque book manager be without a cheque book?.
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26/11/2012 11:40:00

It is a bit negative and really you would think that those who labour in the Vital Villa sweatshop would have a duty to tell us what we want to hear.
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26/11/2012 11:54:00


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