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Glad (it's) All Over


bickster
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Now the Villa European dream is all over for another year, I think it’s time to reflect on what European competition actually means to us. You see, for me I really couldn’t give a damn.

It’s odd, as a person my politics are quite pro European integration. I enjoy my holidays in Europe, France being a particular favourite. There’s nothing like experiencing a bit of European culture every now and again, in fact I’ve often said that If I had the money I’d be off like a shot as this country often depresses the hell out of me. But European football? it leaves me cold. It really doesn’t excite me one bit. And given the attendance at Villa Park on Thursday, it seems I’m not the only one!

Now on a personal level it’s quite easy to explain why I’m not a big fan. Living in the North West, every game is an away game and midweek games themselves are usually too much trouble to consider going to in the first place. And if I’d made the effort what would I be rewarded with? Well usually I’d be watching a second string eleven with a few first team players thrown in for good measure (Villa aren’t alone in doing this) who would be trying their hardest not to concede a goal and possibly sneak one or two on the break. This is the nature of the Euro-game, such is the emphasis on the very silly away goals rule. European football is generally a tense but dire spectacle in the UEFA Cup (sorry Europa League, I forgot the bigwigs re-launched it and made it even worse again). If I don’t go I still get messed around, our league game will be moved to a Sunday and travelling from up here on a Sunday by train is a pain. I don’t particularly want to drive because I like a drink and that for me is part and parcel of the appeal of going to match. Going to the pub before and after, having a chat with the lads before the game about how we see it going and the post match post-mortem over a couple more is part and parcel of the ritual for me. I get to see old friends from school and my other Villa supporting mates. Quite simply being totally selfish, European football messes with my ability to enjoy going to watch football.

But it’s not just that, as I’ve already said, the football on offer is usually substandard anyway and I’m not knocking the manager here, he because of the commitments required for the modern day game has to juggle his squad, younger players need experience and there’s no better way of giving the youngsters some Euro experience because generally speaking the game is played at a slower pace, it provides a decent springboard between reserve level and Premier League. The flipside of this is that because of the pressures put upon the modern day manager, some of the first team also have to play, they have to assume more responsibility too as they are playing with less experienced players, this makes for more fatigued first team players. Come Sunday half the first team are rested, the other half are the opposite. We as a football club, simply aren’t at the level where we can sustain a large enough squad to be really able to cope with a sustained European campaign and to compete in both domestic cups and the league effectively. Something has to give and for me, it’s the Eurodullard I could do without. I’d much prefer to see us playing a gritty but tense affair away at Macclesfield in midweek than have to put up with playing likes of FC Timişoara, who I have no connection with whatsoever, to the extent that I couldn’t even tell you which country they play in and I’d like to think of myself as quite widely travelled especially in Europe.

But what about the great European nights down at Villa Park, I hear some of you scream? Well they don’t happen much in the early stage of this new competition by which time a team like ours has completely messed up its season with players getting over played and tired from all the travelling and by the time they might come round, the squad isn’t really that capable of a sustained attack. Then again, those big European names, why exactly should we be playing them in the later stages, they are only there because they’ve messed up in the Champions League - a competition where failure appears to mean, you get to play in a different competition, which because you’re a Champions League team, you don’t care about either! UEFA simply has this more is good philosophy when it comes to European competition. Well that might work for the top four and the other Euro giants but because the second UEFA competition doesn’t really provide the extra finance on a scale that justifies having the large squad to cope it doesn’t work for the rest of us, in fact, to my mind it keeps us further apart from the top clubs. It acts as reason to inhibit our challenge on the top 4. Before we can can start dreaming of those Great European Nights Down Villa Park (© some marketing imbecile) we need to start having some great domestic days down Villa Park against those teams considered to be above us. When we get to their levels of income, then and only then can we think about having great European adventures again.

Is the Europa Cup the main draw for all players. Sure I can understand the Champions League, but do footballers really like all these games in far flung places midweek? They end up being away from home for three nights, it must get to you at some point. Those clubs not in the Europa League hardly seem to be saying, we can't attract the players, we're not in the Europa League. I haven't heard a single player say, "I've moved to (Insert club here) because of the fantastic opportunity to play in Ventspils on a cold Thursday night". I simply don't think the appetite is there for this

I hate the Europa League and to be honest, I’m glad we’re out of it. It messes up my social life and it messes with the team’s primary goal and that is achieving something in the domestic game. We don’t yet have the finances to compete in such a long winded European competition and the competition doesn’t provide those finances from what I can see. We’re better off out of it!

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Wrong on so many counts for me.

European nights, they still happen. Look at last year when Ajax were in town, a great atmosphere, a great result. The fact that so many fans were rightly pissed off with MON's attitude in Moscow, shows that luckily there is still a desire for us to do well in the competition.

We missed that Champs league place and going on what we see now at the club that was most likely a one off opportunity to break into that select group. Serious money to be made and high profile etc. So what is the aims and expectations for this club? Do we not bother with anything now just be happy with avoiding relegation each year?

The Europa cup this year has some big name teams and if MON had taken it seriously we could have enjoyed it, but that has gone now, and it is disappointing.

This club needs european football and european footballers - both it would seem are not on the radar for some

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What is more important, breaking into the top four or having some nice Thursday nights when fading or obscure European opposition come to town (disguised as top European opposition). I'd argue you can't have both. You can take this tin pot Euro minor TV channel league seriously and always be also rans or you can have a crack at the top four, I don't see how a team in our current position (or is that predicament) can realistically do both. If UEFA really took this competition seriously, they'd award a place in teh Champions League the following season as a prize, they don't and that speaks volumes about this competition, its contemptuous in the extreme. It's ok for the failures for the Champions League to be relegated to it for half a season but not OK for the team that wins it to be promoted?

It's ill conceived and only serves to distract us from the real aim.

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I agree with all of the article, for the same reasons, too.

The Europa league is a bloated contortion of a competition, an ugly sister of the even more grossly money based "champions" league.

Football on a thursday night! why for God's sake?- well it can't be on a wednesday, because that would clash with TV scheduling for the Champs league - there's your answer - it's a TV competition. It's not a straight knockout, it has rejects from Champions league dropped in at various points. It has mini leagues where teams don't play each other home and away.

I accept that there can be some, few, mouth watering ties, and AJax last year was very enjoyable. But the other ties weren't.

IF it were a straight home and away knock out, IF it was played on Wednesdays, if it wasn't seeded and mutated, then I'd be fine with it. I travelled to many away games in the old UEFA cup a decade or whenever it was, ago, and enjoyed that hugely.

But right now, it's not worth the candle.

And given the cost of English football, many people just don't want to, or can't afford to, pay for more games.

Sure the Club has done well with ticket prices and offers, and it's maybe churlish to knock them on pricing, but any "gain" on a cheaper ticket for Vienna is countered by increased costs or inconvenience for getting to Fulham, say, on Sunday, for many fans.

It's a shame that money has become the driving factor in European competition, Champs league, Europa league, whatever, they're there now to feed the clubs and the TV companies at the expense of sporting merit and competition.

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Champions League?

If we finished fourth, we could of ended up playing Celtic (or some one similar) the other night ?

Pardon my ignorance, but is that so ?

If it is, I don't think we would have progressed to the group stages anyway.

Villa got knocked out by Rapid Vienna after all.

This squad is simply not ready for european football.

I think we are better off out.

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It's a shame that money has become the driving factor in European competition, Champs league, Europa league, whatever, they're there now to feed the clubs and the TV companies at the expense of sporting merit and competition.

But that is an easy argument that you can throw at the Premiership. It's a TV magnet, worldwide coverage of the premiership is massive, probably the biggest football tournament coverage. To do that costs a lot of money which then starts the whole Glenn Johnson 120 grand per week thing.

Football worldwide is a 7 day per week thing and I can see why UEFA have done this in terms of the timings and the format. The desire for people watching it still justifies it happening. What we are seeing though now is that the fan attending matches is not the major impact that they once were in terms of the monies that games generate. As a club you have to decide which market place you want to work in and all premiership clubs are looking at making the big bucks.

We have **** up in this competition last year and I would argue did so again this year by not being ready for it. Nothing you or Bicks has says Pete though convinces me that I am wrong in not wanting us to win this competition. I appreciate both of you have to travel, but that gets back to how you can see the matches now with the whole TV thing.

The only thing I would agree with I suppose is how I like the whole cup format as opposed to leagues, but football just aint run like that with the exception of the FA cup, and we had numerous people arguing before (wrongly IMO) that was a nonsense competition.

So do you just have the Premiership and one European Cup comp and nowt else?

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Wrong on so many counts for me.

European nights, they still happen. Look at last year when Ajax were in town, a great atmosphere, a great result. The fact that so many fans were rightly pissed off with MON's attitude in Moscow, shows that luckily there is still a desire for us to do well in the competition.

We missed that Champs league place and going on what we see now at the club that was most likely a one off opportunity to break into that select group. Serious money to be made and high profile etc. So what is the aims and expectations for this club? Do we not bother with anything now just be happy with avoiding relegation each year?

The Europa cup this year has some big name teams and if MON had taken it seriously we could have enjoyed it, but that has gone now, and it is disappointing.

This club needs european football and european footballers - both it would seem are not on the radar for some

Yes the Ajax night was great, but its hard to see the excitement for some of those other teams. And from the turnout last night perhaps some of the fans find it hard to get excited as well.

As I ve said elsewhere I have real problems about this new European brand of football. I don’t think that winning the trophy is a small achievement, but I am unsure that the nature of the competition is a good one. Do you?

MON made a decision about Moscow; many fans were pissed off. Many weren’t. Amazing when we lost out earlier at home to the worse team in the group people weren’t pissed off, even though this led to us playing CSKA Moscow, or the fact that maybe the first team failed to do the job at Villa Park.

We have so many things we can aim at; doing better in the league. Winning a trophy that won’t kill our players. Playing better football. Do you really think that the clubs aim is just to avoid relegation?

And as to European footballers? I was under the impression Britain was in Europe or have we got lost again between France and the US :D Is Gabby not a European footballer thus?

I didn’t want Villa to go out last night. I am annoyed. But its not the end of the world. If come the end of the season it helps Villa do better domestically I will be very happy.

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Wrong for me for one simple reason:

This was something we could have won.

There are five teams in our league who would be clear favourites to win this. Those teams will also be in both of our domestic cups. This tournament (shoddy though it might appear) represents our best chance of glory.

I only hope we get the chance to get another crack at it soon, if not next season then in the next few years.

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I think that the whole aggregate score, away goals structure is broken.

MLS may have been onto something with their first to 5 points over three legs format, since each leg is a separate game. In that format, you received three points for a win/one point for a draw as in a league and if the first two games were drawn, then the third game would be winner-take-all.

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I still have mixed view about it all if I'm honest. If you'd have asked me how I felt on Thursday after then game, I wasn't overly fussed about going out, but ask me now having seen the draw, I'm a bit gutted.

You said that "There’s nothing like experiencing a bit of European culture every now and again" Having been to Prague last season the main attraction of the Europa League, for me, is the away trips. I agree that the home games can sometimes be crap, but going into Europe to watch the Villa is what being in Europe is all about. If I'm honest I think that is what it boils down to. I can't get excited about the competition overall, but will miss the away trips, if that makes sense!!

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Villa are lucky to be out of Europa League - News & Comment, Football - The Independent

Martin O'Neill will not lose any sleep over Aston Villa's early eviction from Europe this season and neither will his club's accountants. When you're a member of the world's most affluent domestic division – the Premier League – then Uefa's Europa League is a tin-pot distraction that doesn't even come with the solace of a fat cheque.

Supposing Villa had beaten Rapid Vienna and got through the six-game 48-team group phase, and then won five more ties over nine games to lift the trophy, they would have picked up total prize money from Uefa of just €6.06m (£5.36m).

This would have been supplemented by money from the "market pool" of TV cash, shared out using a formula so complicated that when The Independent asked Professor Stephen Hawking to explain it last night, he said: "The un-i-verse is less com-pli-ca-ted." The bottom line is it might add another million pounds or so to the haul.

In short, the Europa League winners will get around £6.5m in prize money and TV cash. The Champions' Leauge winners get the thick end of £50m.

Teams that do not make it past the group phase in the Europa League make an average of £800,000 each prize money, amassed via payments just for being there (£531,000), for each group win (£106,000) and for each draw (£53,000).

Those teams reaching the last 32 get an extra £159,000, the last 16 get £270,000 more again, the last eight £319,000, the last four £558,000, the runners-up £1.77m and the winners £2.65m. To clubs of Villa's stature that is not a lot of money these days, and it is not all bankable because taking part in Europe costs money.

If they had beaten the Austrians, they would have had to play eight more away games to win the tournament, and therefore shell out eight times for chartered jets, hotel bills, security, extra insurance and the rest.

Home games can earn a few quid, if the crowds come in big numbers (unlikely), but staging matches costs money too. It has been whispered in more than one club corridor that the Europa League can actually cost money if the fans stay away. (Good luck, Everton and Fulham, by the way).

To use an economist's term, the opportunity costs can also be high, in sporting and monetary terms. The sporting cost from participation is being distracted from the serious business of the Premier League, where the aim is a place in the top four and a slot in the Big Cup (aka the Champions League). The monetary opportunity cost is a knock-on from the sporting cost. If you fail at home because of a schedule overloaded with the Europa League, you diminish the chances of Big Cup (and big money) next season.

Speaking of Villa's exit, O'Neill said yesterday: "In the cold light of day it is not the end of the world what has happened." He added he was going to use it to give experience to his youngsters. That tells you all you need to know.

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It's a shame that money has become the driving factor in European competition, Champs league, Europa league, whatever, they're there now to feed the clubs and the TV companies at the expense of sporting merit and competition.

But that is an easy argument that you can throw at the Premiership. It's a TV magnet, worldwide coverage of the premiership is massive, probably the biggest football tournament coverage. ...

It's true that the Prem is money mad, too, but for me the difference is that it remains a simple format - a league. It's not a cup comp, that then morphs into a league, with other teams parachuted in, then goes back to a knockout. That's why so many people were so against the 39th game drivel. For the reason that sport comes before money in terms of why people follow football.

The prem is very popular and rakes in fortunes, it has many flaws caused by the effect of money and desire for money, in my eyes, but it's still essentially the same format it was when football first became organised in the late 19th century.

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I'd agree with the integrity of the league Blandy.

I was horrified to realise that the Champions league draw is arranged so that more than two teams from the same league (I believe they actually said TV market!) can't be drawn so that they would play on the same day, purely and simply so that the TV coverage is evenly spread in that country.

Teams actually get ruled out of being drawn into a group so that we don't have three playing on Tuesday and one on Wednesday, which for me is shocking.

On the idea of the UEFA cup making money; well I'm guessing the League Cup doesn't either, but they are the two competitions that we've the best chance of competing for and my reasons for following the game still remain about the dream of winning things. Fourth don't do it for me.

(Although I'd take it in a shot.)

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While I appreciate all the good points made above, there is I think an old fashioned part of me that just loves European football. There is something about the status, something about the fans (I thought the Rapid fans in both games were brilliant, the atmosphere at their place really something else, as it had been in Prague last year), just something about the ambience of European football that I love. it probably stems from trips to places like Brussels and Rotterdam, and it probably hearkens back to the days when playing in this competition meant real "status", when fans all over the country would be watching a rare live TV game and it'd be us!

There is still a part of me that believes that a decent team would do well in this competition, regardless, and that winning it, or at the very least doing well, would help elevate the club to a new level and would be really great experience for the likes of Young and Gabby

So I'm going to be a little envious watching Fulham and Everton and even Celtic this year, especially if they go far and have a big match or two.

Good luck to them

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Guest Ricardomeister

It seems like a lot of people have taken a very defeatist view here imo. If we are not bothered with European football then we should not have bothered to enter it. Maybe my attitude was wrong, but when I played sport I did so to win and every defeat hurt me. If you take the attitude of the original post then you will get no success imo. All you will get is mediocrity. To say we can now concentrate on getting in the top 4 is laughable imo given the lack of quality and depth in the squad. However, I think you defeatists will be having your way as I doubt there will be any more European nghts for a while.

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I don't think it's defeatist not to think much of the Europa league. I didn't think much of the inter-toto either. I don't think much of the league cup, to be honest.

Personally, and I accept few will feel the same) I follow football for the enjoyment. I'm not demanding of winning something, though I'd love to, but what I like, is each weekend to be able to go and watch the Villa at saturday 3pm and have a good time. That's it really.

Anything else is a bonus, and anything that takes away from that is, for me, a drawback.

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It seems like a lot of people have taken a very defeatist view here imo. If we are not bothered with European football then we should not have bothered to enter it. Maybe my attitude was wrong, but when I played sport I did so to win and every defeat hurt me. If you take the attitude of the original post then you will get no success imo. All you will get is mediocrity. To say we can now concentrate on getting in the top 4 is laughable imo given the lack of quality and depth in the squad. However, I think you defeatists will be having your way as I doubt there will be any more European nghts for a while.

Pretty strong to call people ‘defeatist’; next you will be sending people white feathers.

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Guest Ricardomeister
It seems like a lot of people have taken a very defeatist view here imo. If we are not bothered with European football then we should not have bothered to enter it. Maybe my attitude was wrong, but when I played sport I did so to win and every defeat hurt me. If you take the attitude of the original post then you will get no success imo. All you will get is mediocrity. To say we can now concentrate on getting in the top 4 is laughable imo given the lack of quality and depth in the squad. However, I think you defeatists will be having your way as I doubt there will be any more European nghts for a while.

Pretty strong to call people ‘defeatist’; next you will be sending people white feathers.

That is my opinion..if people don't agree then that is up to them....if you are happy to accept losses and mediocrity then losses and mediocrity is what you tend to get. When I played sport I refused to just accept losing and maybe that is why I had the success that I did.

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