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Something For The Weekend (404)



How do you solve a problem like the Villa?

A combination of the consequences of Villa's grand plan and the schedule of the Premiership fixture list, set up what looked like a rehearsal for what possibly could be a future Championship encounter, this week, as Villa hosted fellow strugglers Reading, on a chilly night at Villa Park.

It had all the characteristics of the Championship: poor football, where set-pieces were the main points of interest and a diminished crowd of less than thirty-thousand proper fans, who could never be confused with glory-hunters.

The attendance set a new record low for a Premiership game at Villa Park, and it can only be assumed that those who stayed away, were thinking, that if the owner can't be arsed to turn up, why should they.

But even those who preferred to stay at home and face their Villa reality on the relative comfort of their DFS sofas, could not have been unaware that this was a massive game, which could have dealt a serious blow to Villa and their manager, had they lost it.

With Villa stuck in the relegation zone and Paul Lambert inviting controversy by banishing Darren Bent from the squad; to suggest that he is out on limb, would be a bit of an understatement. But luckily for him and to the total relief of every Villa fan, Christian Benteke scored the goal which made the difference - a towering-header of all towering-headers. In the ecstasy of the moment most of the deficiencies of the Villa performance were gladly forgotten.

Even for those who caught up with the highlights on the midweek Match of the Day, there was a strong reminder of possible things to come, as they were forced to stay up late to catch the last game, just as they will, should they be forced to be followers of The Football League Show next season.

It was a chastening reminder, all round.

Sadly, despite the addition of the essential three points, there was not much relief to be had by contemplating the Premiership table, and although the extra points provided some relief, other teams' games in hand, had the opposite effect. So, as might be expected the debate amongst the fans returned to the subject of Darren Bent - a player Lambert both admires and loves, apparently.

For an old romantic like myself, the PR and spin has all been a bit disgusting. Paul Lambert told us that he relieved Darren of the captain's armband so he could concentrate on scoring goals, while making that impossible by dropping him to the bench. He then played a waiting game in the hope that his new signing would do enough to distract the fans, which he has done, and then he ratcheted up the pressure on Darren by removing him from the squad. In any other industry this would be considered to be unethical and deemed constructive dismissal.

But for cheating and dodgy management, you can't beat football.

Sadly, the club has a history of doing this over the last few seasons, and whether it was Martin O'Neill, who won his case, or the dismissal of minor backroom staff who won theirs too, the club's ethical standards are open to question. Start to add in the treatment meted out to any player whose contract they now regret signing, and the management culture of the club begins to look very shabby indeed.

But whether devious and unethical or not, the manoeuvring of the management has been brilliant and enough to bring a smile to the lips of even Machiavelli himself.

The owners have been so successful in flogging off everything with a value, that the team now looks so threadbare in so many areas of the pitch, that suddenly having a 20m striker looks like extravagance and a luxury the club can't afford. The fans are now queuing up to endorse the club's passion to cash him in. Who they think will score the goals, should Benteke get injured, I have no idea. Some unproven latter-day Guy Whittington no doubt.

Of course, working Bent out of the Villa door makes a lot of sense, if the perception that Villa's owner is running the club down is correct.

There is an irresistible logic about this and if followed through to its rightful conclusion, would suggest that reducing the size of the ground's capacity and replacing the ten-thousand empty seats with lucrative corporate boxes, should follow. If Jueventus only need a ground with a capacity of 41 000, then Villa needs less than thirty. This would increase Villa's income and avoid burdening the club with unnecessary debt, which expansion of the ground would entail.

So financially the club is heading in the right direction and is in the process of discovering some humility and a realistic grasp of their status in the modern game. Happily for Villa's owner, the fans are on board and realise that the club needs to find a modus operandi which avoids the complications and demands of Premiership football.

It is a fitting tribute to Lerner's contribution to Villa history, that in 1913 Villa was the greatest club in the world, and in 2013 it very much looks like the club will be a contender for a place amongst the second-raters of the Championship.

How much of a contender, we are about to find out, as Villa take on QPR, currently the worst team in the Premiership, and according to some, Villa are not favourites.

So yet another crossroads - will we ever get free?



Keep the faith!
The Journalist

Writer: Steve Wade Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Friday November 30 2012

Time: 4:55PM

Your Comments

First off, not a bad version, but you can't beat Cream's Crossroads in my very humble!

Strong words Steve, I can see the frustration for you is growing. MON didn't win his case, it was settled, which usually points to a tribunal actually going the other way, ie in favour of an employer (so I'm told by an industrial tribunal expert) But yes, I'm not keen on the way players are shelved. Don't think it is just Villa and I guess some players drop us / other teams just as savagely (ie Downing) It is certainly a tough industry, I guess compensated by very handsome wages.
The Fear
Oh and when I think about Cream I think of Witton Lane (Michael) RIP mate.
The Fear
Dear, Oh dear, Xmas will be a merry old time in your household (not) if Villa fail to beat QPR this weekend. But over on the bright side... a win for the good guys or Young Boys of Aston as they might be known could have the once mighty AVFC climbing to mid table. Hmmm, thanks for your offering, as always, but I will stick to my optimistic view and you can keep yours.
TelfordVilla
Fear, I think Steve's argument about dismissals and how conducted is a bit more global than merely MON's case. And certainly the "minor backroom staff" were not on "very handsome wages". In addition, tribunal cases usually go to the employer as they usually make sure their case is watertight before they enter the room (except in a certain person's case ;-) ) ... the cases where the employer has to cough up are usually settled before they go into court and are not included in the stats you refer to.
the_lergy
You're a happy chap aye? First of all,, we're not going down. Times are tough at the moment, everyone can accept that (hell we'll probably lose to QPR this weekend) but this young squad isn't half as bad as some of these 'pundits' try to make out and under PL they're only going to get better and better. Every realist Villa fan knew that the first half of this season would be pretty much a write off, but come january we'll start climbing away from that drop zone, mark my words.. so no more talk about the championship please and let's get behind the team! UTV
villaba8
We've met a few "crossroads" and we were probably meeting a few even back in the days of the original crossroads (by Robert Johnson) back in the 1920s, but they do seem to be coming rather regular these days don't they! Seems a few of "us" isn't that keen on your writings this weekend Steve, but I for one applaud you for saying it as you see it... which I go along with mainly. I thought as I was reading it, that this may rattle a few cages, but hey, the facts speak for themselves.... like it or not.
Pride of Lions
I don't think that Steve was necessarily saying that the Championship is in view, villaba8, more that the atmosphere and standard of play at VP on Tuesday was more akin to that of the Championship. The crowd was less than 30,000 for starters. I agree with the optimism about PL and his squad (though be nice to get a decent, experienced, midfielder) and ability to rise above mediocrity, but Steve has stated a truth i.m.o. In particular that the Villa faithful have been over-tried and tested in the last couple of years.
the_lergy
I have re-read the article and, in truth, it doesnt seem so gloomy this morning. It is true that Villas fortunes have nosedived since MON walked out on the eve of a new season. However we are always told to take each game as it comes. Last game was won hopefully todays game will be won. If you want to feel better about things, just focus on the last 5 games. 2 wins, 1 draw, 1 narrow defeat and 1 total capitulation against the 'champions'. It isnt that bad......is it ? Keep the faith. Support the boys. The Lion will roar again.
TelfordVilla
People need to remember that I am merely expressing my personal view and my personal perception of how things seem. If my own experience is anything to go by, negative opinions about Villa are more likely to stimulate a protective reaction, than some anodyne reassurance that things are fantastic despite the evidence. I try to avoid attacks on individual players because I think that is plainly wrong. As for my criticism of the management culture at Villa, I think they need reminding that their claim to be doing the right thing as far as the finances are concerned, counts for nothing if they are not seen to be doing the right thing as regards the people they employ, or their honesty to the fans. There is always a conflict between promoting the club and criticising it but I think that anyone who has endured the disappointments dished up by Villa over the years, has a right to criticise the club. I am obviously a hopeless case when it comes to my Pavlovian response to Villa but even if I can't prevent myself from salivating when the bell rings, I can still bark.
Steve Wade
Had to share this - Merson predicts a Harry Rangers win today.... going on about the Reading game on Tue he says, " I really dont remember them having a shot". Er, ever tried reading the stats, Paul ? What you meant to say was "I really dont remember anything after my first shot".
malacaxeta
Agreed Steve, you always say it as you see it, you don't round on individuals, if you did, I'd say it would be well deserved because you are very considered in what you do say (not just in Something For The Weekend) and I can't understand why some think we should be cheerful right now. They are tough times, as long as during a game we make the noise of support (which we all have this season, unlike some of the bile last) then talking things through after is fine and dandy. Why should we not dissect the situation and why should we be pleased to be fighting at the wrong end of the table for the 3rd season in a row?
vitalfootballadmin
Villa's Victor Meldrew might not provide the happy news people seem to want these days but I suggest that if knockers want something a bit more chirpy they might try writing it themselves. Mr Fear and his cohorts would love to have more Villa voices on their site. All you have to remember is that all the best stories start with 'Once upon a time.....'
OnMeHeadFred
sorry, vitalfootballadmin post was meant to be done via my personal username not the business one!
The Fear
agreed onmeheadfred, site is open to all views and opinions and we welcome submissions. Nicely put sir!
The Fear
I have said many times how much i enjoy Steve's article each week. Indeed, my weekend starts with 'something for the weekend'. I just dont echo his views at this moment in Villa history. The current Villa manager cannot do anything about the two previous managerial shambles. The last two seasons have gone and the first 14 games of this season have gone. If we keep looking back and raking over the old coals we are never going to make progress. The current squad will stay in this division and will climb the table as this season continues. We have to take each game as it comes and give 100% support, not get too down when mistakes cost us points and above all hope for improvement. Faith will be rewarded.
TelfordVilla
Well said Telford ;) Steve - I understand where you're coming from and you do make some good points and also you're right that you don't pick on any individuals (like other 'fans' love to do) it's just i don't share your viewpoint at this moment. i don't think it's all doom and gloom right now (last season, yes. but not this season) despite our poor league position there are signs that we're going in the right direction. There's no doubt in my mind that Lambert is the right man for the job,, some of his signings (Benteke, Westwood etc.) imo are proving to be very inspired ones and a couple of the same in January will certainly help! the signs are there that we're improving and moving in the right direction, but it's a massive rebuiliding project for sure, and it will take time. as fans all we can do right now is stick together, stay patient and support the team and manager 100%
villaba8
Can't see where he suggests the manager is not doing a good job. He just dared to be disappointed which is not allowed.
OnMeHeadFred
 

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