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Is it 5, 10, or more...?


JohnCresswell
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The much fabled five year plan! We all wonder what it is; are we on schedule, ahead of ourselves or behind? The Tubster takes a comparative view of the Villa and the "big 4" to decide whether our long-term plans will get us up there.

Ah, the five year plan! We all wonder what it is; are we on schedule, ahead of ourselves or behind? Much can only be deliberated from the outside looking in, although a few snippets of information may suggest that qualification for Europe this past season is in fact beyond the original schedule thought out by our new board. Ultimately the goal is surely to reach Champions League qualification by the end of year five, so how does that compare to the so called “big 4” over a similar period of time?

I have taken a look back at league form for Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool to decipher what exactly is needed to break into this dominant group of teams, and if we have the tools to do it.

Man Utd

The last two seasons have seen them win the league on both occasions, in what I would call pretty convincing circumstances. They are a great team with key players in every position but can also boast a more than adequate second string that could likely hold their own amongst the Premier Leagues second string. However, looking further back, they failed to record a league win for the three seasons prior, finishing third twice and second in 05/06 although they were pushed closely by Liverpool. Man Utd set themselves very high standards and quite right too considering they have won the league ten times since it was formed.

If you only consider the previous five years then it could be suggested that they have improved year on year although they have remained fairly consistent with end of season positioning; a mean position of second. But to progress from a weak third to a strong first in a table of four is an improvement that can be acknowledged in this analysis.

Chelsea

The perennial; how to buy a title in only 2 years! Personally for me, the Chelsea way is not the way to achieve sustained success. Yes they have the best finishing record in the last five years with a 2nd, a win, a win, a 2nd and another 2nd, leaving them with a mean position of 2nd, but they have no progression from their youth team and are constantly buying players to compete with those around them. I agree that the pace at the top is such that if you want to achieve something you have to keep improving your team, but they are buying players just so no one else can. Key flops include, Shevchenko, Sidwell, Malouda, Boularhouz, Tal Ben Haim… to name but a few and that is at a guesstimated expense of near £50m.

Much like ManUre, they are where they are because the core of their team keeps performing. Cech, Terry, Lampard, Drogba etc. allow Chelsea to remain consistent and strong. Remove at least two of these and I believe they struggle, though they can be replaced with Cudicini, Carvalho, Ballack and ummmm (name another Chelsea striker) and can still remain competitive against the Premierships also rans.

Arsenal

The Arsenal, le Arse, The Gunners. The team that could achieve so much yet rarely does. They certainly play the best football of the top 4 on their day, potentially some of the best football in the World. Add to that their focus on youth and a great manager who only rewards players who perform, you could probably start to think that they are the better version of us. However, they lack the consistency needed to make it at this level. This season past they led until they totally capitulated and were swallowed up by ManUre and Chelski. One win, a 2nd, two fourths and a third - with a mean position of 3rd - show that Arsenal are on the way down.

For me, this is down to one factor. The players they buy are full of quality and together can play some quite magnificent football, but they are all as good as each other. If you look at the two teams above, you have players who stand out and do a job. Ronaldo at ManUre and Lampard at Chelsea. But I would struggle to agree with anyone that Fabregas is best player at the Arse, or that Gallas led by example or that Adebayor could score from anywhere. The only player they have had in recent times who could change a game was Thierry Henry, but without a superstar, a leader, they are seriously a long way behind what is needed.

Liverplop

I think by now we have all built up a certain level of hatred for the plop. Personally, Fat Tom Jones and his hot dog munching dictators will all get what is coming to them. I am glad to see them with no money to buy players, especially a certain captain of a team from B6. It just shows that you can’t put monkeys in charge of a boat full of bananas as they just keep all the bananas for themselves! Regardless of the politics involved, Liverpool is a team looking vulnerable. For me the rotation policy employed by Fat Tom Jones has ruined any chances they ever had of winning the league. They lack consistency in their performances and rely heavily on only two players; Gerrard and Torres.

Over the last 5 years Liverpool have finished 4th, 5th, and then three 3rd places, a mean position of 4th. That might sign to progression, but in my eyes they got lucky once when they begged UEFA to be in the Champions League, and their past three 3rd places have barely shown any genius. I don’t see them making the assured signings needed to improve their position and thus remain a long way behind, just the same as Arsenal.

Villa

So we have seen the “big 4” - so named by the media and self promoted by the clubs. The darlings that could only be broken by the under-performing Newcastle and Tottenham. But what about the Villa?

Of the team we currently have (written before any occurrences with Gareth Barry), we have similar qualities to all four. Like Chelsea, we rely on a core of players to perform and when they do they cause many a problem for anyone. Like Arsenal, we invest in our youth and promoted teamwork as our strongest attribute. Like Liverpool we can over rely on the said core players and teams get wise. However, unlike each of these three teams, are core players aren’t arrogant, self obsessed tossers who won’t get out of bed for less than £100k a week. Our core, our team are full of relatively unknowns who have worked their way to where they are now, by working hard and by learning constantly. Our core is home grown and we are proud of that association with the national side. And greatest of all is our management both at boardroom and team level. Since the arrival of Mr Lerner and Mr O’Neill our club has been transformed into a professional outfit with clear and achievable goals – A place we have never been before! Let’s not ignore the fact that we were 16th when they took over and in only two seasons we have turned potential relegation into nearly qualifying outright for the UEFA cup once again. In my eyes, Arsenal and Liverpool are vulnerable and we would be more than happy to take their place if we make the right additions to our squad.

You may have picked up by now that I have failed to praise (anymore than slagging their name) let alone criticise ManUre to this stage. My reasoning? Well think back to ManUre’s great team of the 90’s. The young, hungry, home grown core of a team that set the precedent for the next decade. Ok, so now they are owned by money grabbers and exploit their fans, but on the pitch, the consistency of their manager, the remaining players from the 90’s, the team ethic they instil throughout, to me screams an example to compare ourselves to.

Martin O’Neills Aston Villa are the team to bring back to the Premier League what it originally had – a home grown side that wants to be there. Mark my words, the five year plan of which we are in year three, is not five years at all. In my opinion it is a ten year plan, potentially even 12 or more. I put to you, if I can happily compare the Villa to the ManUre team of the nineties now, what will I be doing in 2015?

Watch out World, here comes the Villa.

Up the Villa

Jon

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Jon, A very persuasive view of the future, backed by some good analysis.

We were very lucky that Randy chose the Villa and that despite what Ellis would have us believe, that MON joined because he liked the view being put forward by the soon to be owner.

Their combination, backed by a shrewd management team augers very well for our future, plus Randy doesn't need all the jam today, unlike certain foreign owners. He seems happy that our progress is steady but well planned, and despite the more pessimistic of Villa fans, success WILL be achieved.

UTV

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Jon, A very persuasive view of the future, backed by some good analysis.

We were very lucky that Randy chose the Villa and that despite what Ellis would have us believe, that MON joined because he liked the view being put forward by the soon to be owner.

Their combination, backed by a shrewd management team augers very well for our future, plus Randy doesn't need all the jam today, unlike certain foreign owners. He seems happy that our progress is steady but well planned, and despite the more pessimistic of Villa fans, success WILL be achieved.

UTV

so thats the villa faithful convinced..... now for the rest of Europe.

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