Jump to content

Owned!


GarryBarry
 Share

Recommended Posts

The pre-season round ups, Soccer Saturday debates and, most of all, the Milner-Ireland transfer have highlighted the stark differences between Man City and Villa. While City are touted in some quarters as potential title-chasers or at least fair bets for top-four Villa have hardly been mentioned other than as a club in crisis.

This last week has polarised fans and brought back the debate as to how far we can push on given current finances and the lack of a multi-billionaire owner (or two) to compete with City, Chelsea and so on.

But if you offered me the chance to change history, to switch owners with Man City so that we were the club bankrolled by oil billions while City had Lerner in charge would I do it? What matters more? Success at literally any cost or the style that a club operates in?

For me, while I may be envious of the team City are assembling and frustrated at seeing some of our best players lured there, I couldn't stand to see Villa operate with such a fundamental lack of class, or becoming as hated as City are starting to be.

The last four years have seen some immense feel-good factors around Villa Park: The Acorns sponsorship, improving the training faciliites, the European Cup celebration night and game against Sheffield United the next day (the hairs on the back of my neck stood up, and my older brother literally had tears in his eyes when Morley and all did the lap of honour).

At the same time, the attitude of many of my friends towards the Villa changed noticaably. From writing us off as a tired, whinging set of has-beens I was stunned at the number of people who had us down as their second team, or who just enjoyed seeing us play. There was a genuine respect from other fans for what we were doing with a strong spine of young English players. Everton fans, after our 3-2 victory at Goodison, were talking excitedly about the game rather than complaining about being robbed. In Young, Gabby and latterly Milner we have some genuinly exciting players and while the football has become a little more predictable there are still periods in many games that are just thrilling. Add to that two Wembley appearances and a regular return to Europe and it just feels like a different club. The media also seem to have warmed towards us.

Yet for all of this, we remained a 'nearly club'. Semi finals and finals rather than 3rd round, true. But no winners medals. Three top -6 finishes in the last three years but frustratingly falling short of a champs league spot. This was accompaied by a growing awareness that any window of opportunity might be closing, as City embarked on their own version of fantasy football and Tottenham's steady investment over the previous decade started to pay off.

This season will be tough. Spurs, City Everton and Liverpool look stronger than last while we look set to lose the PFA young player of the year, without strengthening significantly. We've also lost our manager.

I liked O'Neil. I like the team he's built and think in terms of a first 11 he has left us in a strong position. However, I'm also glad that the salary gold-rush has been stopped. I would have preferred for Lerner and O'Neil to have been able to make the necessary changes jointly and I'm angry that O'Neil left when he did. For what it's worth I don't think O'Neil was protecting his own reputation or 'spat his dummy out'. More likely he had doubts for a long time (since the end of last season by the sounds of it) but wanted to continue. He likely dwelt on the problems throughout the summer, constantly running things through in his mind (just think what he's like with transfers) until it was clear he just didn't think he could do the job with the new approach that was rquired. So hugely frustrating and undoubtedly one of O'Neil's character flaws (procrastination, over-thinking things) but it doesn't change my opinion of him as a principled man who contributed enormously to the club over the past four years.

I also believe that it is the salary position that prevented further signings coming in, not a lack of willingness to spend on transfer fees. As such, an incoming manager should be able to strengthen in January if they can trim the wage bill. Crisis doesn't feel like a label that will stick.

But back to my question. Looking at City now, with £100 million plus of players joining over the summer and a genuine chance of competing at the highest level, would I swap our position for theirs?

No. I'm proud about the way our club operates. Whatever you think about the Lerner/O'Neil partnership of the past four years, it has left us with a strong team (if not squad), with promising youngsters coming through. Most importantly it has given us some pride back. Something I suspect rings a little hollow at the City of Manchester. Any success that comes this season will surely feel a little tarnished, a little undeserved? And what sense of team for the group of mercenaries in the dressing room there? While I'm not naive enough to believe that players play out of love or loyalty, Villa have built a reputation over the past four years as a place to develop, as a place to build your national team chances (at one point we contributed joint-top number of players to the England team). We can attract players because of what we offer other than £s alone (the wage bill is surely reflective of highly-paid benchwarmers rather than overpaying across the board).

I also suspect that City are storing up some major problems for themselves. The disquiet from Robinho, Bellamy and Ireland and the demand that their contracts are honoured when moving on to other teams on lower wages is a sign of things to come. If Mancini isn't successful and another manager replaces him what scope to change the team or bring in new players when you've spent £20 million odd on individuals the season before.

City's transformation has been a corrupting one. Ours a redemptive one. If you told me now we would remain outside the top 4 for the next five years unless we 'did a City' I'd shrug. I'd much rather push on gradually from where we are and maintain our soul and our style. A cup win, a sustained run in Europe and cementing our place in the top six. If you'd offered me that in the Taylor or O'Leary years I'd have snapped your hand off. And with the debt facing some of the biggest clubs I wouldn't be surprised to see the landscape shift again.

The decision on the new Manager is going to be critical. Jol would be fantastic but any manager who can build on what we already have and continue to build the pride in the club will get my backing.

Form (and wealth) is temporary, class is permanent.

UTV

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My only complaint: O'Neill! He was manager here for four years and you can't spell his sodding name (although I sense many on these boards wouldn't care as he is history)

Aside from that I thought it was a reasonably balanced argument but fundamentally flawed by the fact that every football fan wants success. Sadly no matter how poorly done it would appear that Man Citeh will achieve that, however if they don't and we do, it will make it very very sweet to see certain ex player(s) faces

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My only complaint: O'Neill! He was manager here for four years and you can't spell his sodding name (although I sense many on these boards wouldn't care as he is history)

Aside from that I thought it was a reasonably balanced argument but fundamentally flawed by the fact that every football fan wants success. Sadly no matter how poorly done it would appear that Man Citeh will achieve that, however if they don't and we do, it will make it very very sweet to see certain ex player(s) faces

There have been many examples in the past of money not bringing success, although in Citeh's case, it's a lot of money, but Mancini has to get all these highly paid individuals to gel and that might be more difficult with all the egos.

Certainly, they didn't look too good against the Spuds, but early days yet.

For Villa, lets see what KM can do while he's got the chance, I'd hope the youngsters will get more opportunity than under MON.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I also suspect that City are storing up some major problems for themselves. The disquiet from Robinho, Bellamy and Ireland and the demand that their contracts are honoured when moving on to other teams on lower wages is a sign of things to come. If Mancini isn't successful and another manager replaces him what scope to change the team or bring in new players when you've spent £20 million odd on individuals the season before.

I suspect in a couple of years' time we will all be saying "how true that front page story from GarryBarry was."
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...
Â