First off, let me say that just because this blog is called 'The Optimist' it doesn't automatically follow that I will fly in the face of criticising things that need to be criticised. Believe me, if I want to moan I will moan. But if I don't then I won't. I called it 'The Optimist' because in my years on VillaTalk I have come around to the realisation that on average I do tend to see the positive side of things more than most. So it seemed an apt name.
Anyway, on to Villa.
As a first post I may aswell give my $0.02 on what is happening this season and what I see happening from here onwards. I like it. I like what's happening. I think most people do. OK the results haven't been there yet in any consistent way, but then considering what has gone on in the past 2 years you wouldn't exactly demand that results change overnight. You'd like them to, sure, but you wouldn't demand it. In my view it would also be an unreasonably harsh (or blind?) critic that would try to argue that our style of play has not improved markedly over the past year. "Not hard" I hear you say. True dat. In fact it could be argued that we're trying to play a more expansive passing game now than we have since the days of Gregory or Little (the managers, not the players...) or even before them.
I also like what we are buying. Who they are, how old they are, where we're buying from and how much they are costing. Some are saying that Lambert is cleverly following the Borussia Dortmund model that he should know pretty well having played there and won the CL there and with it being where he allegedly took most of his coaching inspiration from. We can not compete with the monster budgets of the teams fighting for Champions League places and that leaves us with fewer options. You either buy the next tier of player who tends to cost more than he should and who; while playing for you; is thinking about where he'd rather be playing. Or you go lower down and cherry-pick the top talents who are gut-bustingly hungry to prove they can mix it with the big boys. And that's the key word - 'Hungry'. Something the 2nd tier players I mentioned can often lack if they see you as a 2nd option. We have a few in the squad right now ... Anyway, I digress. Bringing in players like Lowton, Westwood, Bennett et al is the way we have chosen to go. By supplementing that tactic with the kind of canny purchase like that of an up-and-coming Belgian national striker in Benteke, Lambert has created the kind of vibrancy, spirit and hunger in our squad that we have rarely seen at Villa and he is trying to align it with a playing philosophy that we hope will ultimately be successful but which will also be pleasant on the eye and frustrating on the opponent.
We will suffer bad days along the way. Indeed we are suffering bad days already. But we can see what we're trying to do and in some cases; Man Citeh away; it clicks and superior opposition on paper gets blown away. OK maybe that's putting it strongly, but I doubt many sides will go there this season and beat them 4-2 even allowing for the changes they made.
We are also going through this transition at quite a good time I think. There are poor teams in this league. This gives us potentially more of a safety net than you might ordinarily have. Of course it's not like you can go out and lose every game, but that's not what we're suggesting is required nor is it what we're currently doing. I think we will gradually click as the season goes on and we will pick up more than enough results to both keep our fans happy and keep us enough away from a fight against the 'R' word. Those 2 things being basically 2 ways of saying the same thing.
Anyway, I just thought I'd start off with that general overview of how I see it at the moment. Check back for the odd brainfart as and when they bubble to the surface.