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Football and morality


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The setting: The Premier League halfway through 2008/09 season.

The reason: Following the sacking of two managers at two high profile clubs today and the enormity and ridiculousness of the behemoth that is Manchester City, I thought it necessary to explore the current climate in the Premiership and Villa’s position in it.

Scolari gone. Adams gone. Greed and selfish ambition on the rise across the board in the premiership as demonstrated through Manchester City’s ludicrous pursuit of Kaka and Defoe’s switch back to Spurs. Is football losing its head and its soul? Unfortunately, on the surface, it very much looks this way. To investigate this further it is necessary to turn to a religious parable:

A Tale of Two Houses

Paul McGrath’s lesser known son, Jesus, once told a story that had more resonance to football than Cantona’s meanderings about sardines and trawler men:

There was once two men; the first man “builds his house on a rock. The man laid a strong foundation by digging deep into the earth. Then he worked carefully and slowly making sure the building was strong and secure on the rock. And then the rains and floods came and the wind blew hard and beat against the house. But the house did not fall because it was built on a strong foundation.”

But the person who hears my words and does nothing with them is like a stupid or foolish man who built his house on the sand. This man did not build a strong deep foundation and built his house very quickly. His tall house was built fast and he moved in feeling safe. Soon the rains and floods came and the wind blew beating against the house. The tall house without a strong foundation just couldn't stand up to the flooding and winds and it cracked and the whole house collapsed."


A house built strong stands the test of time and has certain qualities about it. Passion, durability, strength, pride, selfless ambition. This is what Aston Villa, our proud historical club currently represent. From the outset of Randy and the general’s coming to the club and the theories of Martin O’Neill, our club has been built on rock, slowly enveloping and improving its features with each growing season and making other clubs look over in envy at the steadfastness and resoluteness of our framework.

We allow a charity to “sponsor” us, we have a board member who converses with fans on a daily basis, a club that cares deeply about its supporters, a manager who has deep set values and a club with historical morals, a deep sense of pride and a team that has provided our national side with 6 internationals who could all quite easily make the starting XI. We have an identity that is not dressed in gold or dollars but in Claret and Blue blood.

We are becoming a model for what a club can do when wise decisions are made and a cautious approach is adopted. Ellis should not be forgotten for his part in this as he did handover his club to those he knew would not let us down and he is proving correct, He did not allow a Stupidly rich Russian or Sheikh with no clue buy our great club and send us sailing down the river after say a few years of instant success when they start to get board and look for new things.

This is what is happening to Chelsea, Portsmouth and what most dangerously awaits the fate of Manchester City should Hughes not be allowed to manage properly!

Portsmouth most aptly symbolise the house built on sand, as do Chelsea to a bigger, less obvious degree. They are built in the main on quick fix signings, money printing machine chairmen and players who move for the money. Leeds provides a good example of where only trying to buy success and having no long term infrastructure or care can lead you. Chelsea are looking for blame at every turn, are unsettled and angry the success they have had is starting to be eaten away by teams with more heart and planning. Scolari going is a panic move – they are hardly a club in crisis on the surface but what lies beneath when the storm sets in may mean their once great house is shattered into pieces.

What is most impressive about Villa is that we have given as much thought to the little things, the mosaics, the flags, the free coaches, the shirts and companies we affiliate with as MON has given to his shrewd transfer dealings. Whilst MON very rarely (touch wood) gets it wrong and pays a realistic price (or is proved to be a bargain – Ashley Young/maybe Jimmy?) The new billionaires are splashing the cash on players of questionable quality and turning their clubs into ridiculous fairgrounds that all other supporters want to see fail.

Mark Hughes is fighting an uphill battle against Manchester city’s owners to keep some pride and honesty about his team. The signing of Given shows Hughes is aware but City’s activity elsewhere is horrific and it will be them that ultimately suffer from the quest for trying to instantly buy success instead of evolve it gradually using players of potential world class quality like Richards, Onuha and Sturridge.

Our club

Let’s be proud of what Villa represents. Lets support our players and all their endeavours, let’s be fair and look at the bigger picture. Lets ensure we remain hungry and vigilant. This is a time for getting behind everything Villa stands for. This is our best chance to make a mark on the premiership in years. We need to take it and ensure our players are aware of our loyal support and how close they are to establishing Villa back where we belong

I would also like to say Everton and Sunderland fans should be proud too. We are three clubs who have all stood the test of time and realise what football is about. Of course I would love to win the premiership and Champions League but we will get there when we are ready and win trophies with a certain degree of professionalism and decency.

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Great Article, and it says exactly why I think that the RL/MON partnership is the way forward. Winning the premiership is one thing, but the real challenge is creating a club that can be fighting for the top silverware every year. Fergie has done it at Man U, every year they seem to start badly and people write them off, but by XMAS they are always in either first or second place.

That's what we must aim for if we are to regain our place again in the top echelon of English football, it's a long term goal and won't happen overnight, but with the current Board/Manager/Coaching Staff we have the best chance of achieving this. So if results start going against us don't immediiatley start booing or demanding change. Don't forget it wasn't until his 4th season in charge of Man U that Fergie actually won something (FA cup), before that the fans and the media demanded that he was sacked. However the Man U board looked at the long term, saw the potential and have become the biggest club in the world.

So ask yourself do you want to be a Spurs who change their manager as often as they change their underwear and pick up the occasional Carling cup or do you want to be an Man U who stick with a great manager through thick and thin and become the most successful club in the world.

I know my preference and I'll gladly buy everybody a pint as we celebrate our second consecutive Champions League Trophy

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Spot on Sir. This is the reason I still watch football, when in the last years of Ellis I was ready to walk away from the sport as a whole. That this approach has bought with it success is a truly wonderful vindication. Sadly I was going to turn to cricket and rugby to get my fill of solid sport for sports sake, played with honour and decency. However the undignified grasping for money that is going on in cricket now may have me looking further afield still for my third sport.

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A very sensible article and one every Villa fan should adhere to! I also think we should follow Manchester United in their transfer policy of having a fantastic scouting system abroad. Maybe even having a close affiliation with one or two foreign teams which would allow us to have a look at some of their most promising players and in return, we could then give our young players some consistant european experience! Hopefully this will come sooner rather than later and we can then spread our transfer net wider onto the european stage where we might even persuade MON to sign a potential Ronaldo, Arshavin, Messi or Kaka!

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I've only been following football for about 3 years now, outside of watching the US national team, and frankly not knowing anything when I did. To this day american football is my favorite sport, with hockey, baseball, and basketball all taking a lot of my interest as well. But sports are my life, so I had room for (soccer). I discovered the joys of football from playing FIFA on every game system possible. I decided I needed a team to support, decided on the Premier League, and looked for one that caught my eye. Aston Villa seemed an interesting name, I read the history on wikipedia, and bam I had a team. Over the last three years I've gradually followed the team more and more, and now that I am studying in London for the semester, my interest has become sky high. I will be travelling to Villa Park for my first game this weekend to watch us crush the Chelsea scum and I cannot wait.

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