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Rough Trade - The Milner/ Ireland Deal


blandy
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Warning, this article contains a whole bunch of disgruntlement, but I've been thinking about the soon to be confirmed transfer of James Milner and the incoming of Stephen Ireland and a number of things want saying.

The first point is the most obvious one - James Milner leaving. He's a very, very, good player and has the potential and attitude to get even better. Villa will be weaker without him. He's a player that the Club didn't want to see leaving, one that we'd said we had every intention of trying to keep at the club. But he's gone, or all but gone and although I wish him well there's surely a risk that his career could well suffer from this move. He'll be used as a utility player, or play a lot less games for the mancs than he would have done at Villa, just to keep City's ever growing crop of players happy. Sure the deal is on the face of it not a bad one by any means, and the total value of the deal at around 26 million is a healthy gain on the 12 million we paid for James 2 years ago. But as a fan I'd rather we'd managed to keep hold of him. Another of our best players is lured away by money. He's not gone to Chelsea, Arsenal, or Manchester United, he's gone to the dysfunctional money pit of Eastlands.

The second point is that Milner seemingly wanted to go from the off, but didn't not want to allow this desire to become public. He was apparently miffed when Martin O'Neill let it be known that he wanted to leave. Why? it was the truth. It might, for James Milner, in many ways be the smart, way to behave - to say nothing rather than to come out and say "I want to go, because they pay obscene amounts of cash and have as good a chance as Villa of winning something, maybe a better chance". But we all know that's exactly what any rational player would be thinking and I'd kind of like to hear them say it a bit more often. I think it's the being taken for a fool really that gets me, from players. There's a tick list of things that players are seemingly advised to do to win favour, and it's daft.

1. Say words like "Big Club", "do it for the fans" "great supporters" "Step up in my career"

2. Kiss the badge, or grab hold of the shirt badge and give it a hefty tug.

3. "Sorry to leave"

I could go on with the list, as could we all, but it's mostly tired old recycled load of tosh from some ancient manual of insincere player-speak and no one really believes it do they?

Thankfully James Milner hasn't done any of that (yet), but I feel that's only because he's a smart cookie, not because he's any different. If he comes out at his Man City preference and says "Look, they are paying me by the bucket load, just look at it all, who wouldn't, eh?, I mean I don't have any affinity with City or the manager, and they'll probably sack me off in 12 months or so, but bloody hell look at all the money. Wahey!" I might forgive the whole sorry mess, but more likely, even with his savvy, he's going to say "thanks to Villa..." and then spout some variation of the "career progression...Big Club going places.." standard spoff. Does anyone really believe this stuff is genuinely meant?

And what about the destination he's going to. Now in many ways City has been an admirable club. Very decent fans (mostly), a sense of grounded reality and attachment to their roots. But this is changing. Sure the fans will be the same good bunch (plus a load of new glory hunters, of course), but the way the club behaves now is devoid of the grounded in the real world type of class they have exhibited in previous times. They have so much money that they don't feel the need to bother with the pleasantries or incovenience of concepts such as decency and integrity. "Want that one"...."Don't want it, get that one" The throw-away society gone mad. Same as Chelsea (though they never had any class to start with, to be fair. Randy was spot on to call them for their attitude. Not that it'll make an iota of difference.

Number four in my personal list of grouches is that it's a player exchange deal. Why, when Aston Villa are operating under a temporary manager are we buying a player in, for a still sizeable sum (£8 million odd) when the next manager is still being sought?

What if the next manager thinks - "no, I don't rate Ireland at all". While Martin O'Neill was here and apparently OK with a part exchange involving Ireland, fine. But MO'N stomped off and we are currently (permanent) manager-less. So who has decided to go for Ireland, rather than straight cash? and why? We've publicly said that the wage bill must be cut, and rightly so, yet we're replacing one well paid player with another, and at the same time losing out on £8 million or so in cash. Something doesn't add up here. I wish I could work out what. And knowing who decided to stay with the player exchange deal, rather than change the deal as circumstances changed, and why they made that decision is the only way this concern can be answered, because for me, only football managers should be deciding who to buy, or at least have a chance to say "no" to someone else's decision. Always. If that changes then the sporting focus is gone from the club.

On what is becoming a monumental fit of grump, my fifth dislike is the background, where (it is said) Stephen Ireland stood his ground over his contract terms. From his point of view he didn't ask to be sold to Villa, or anyone else, we're told. He will get paid less money than at City, and City therefore owe him the difference. If he doesn't get it he won't leave. Fair enough you might answer, and it's hard to argue from one angle, but the other side of the coin is "Great, you can see how keen he is to play for Villa, from that". Is it standing up for yourself and your rights, or is it a very rich young man wanting to get even richer? Probably both. Whatever, it's unedifying. Add in City doing similar last season with Richard Dunne and you just get a picture of the way they do things and treat people again lacking class.

Another concern is that I have doubts about Stephen Ireland as a player. He's a tremendous talent, for sure. But he's got a reputation for a certain degree of flaky behaviour. Again, if we had a manager who was content to deal with, er, "characters" like Stephen, then fine, back his judgement, take the risk. But we haven't got a manager. So we've got a player who was not looking to join Villa, who reportedly would happily have stayed in City's rotting pool of unwanted reserves, rather than miss out on an extra million quid, who has not met the Villa manager, still joining the club. Surely this is not the way things should be? Does it sound like a recipe for success?

We don't know why Martin O'Neill left Villa, but looking at that lot above, I have some sympathy if he was becoming fed up of many aspects of the game and fancied a sanity break. The again if he hadn't dropped his bundle, maybe some of what looks like a bit of a muddle might be rather less muddled.

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would you rather we let a player of irelands quality, a player who'll walk into our team regardless of who the manager is, slip through our fingers when the opportunity is there to bring him in?

honestly?

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Hope it works out for Ireland. As of yet nobody really knows if he will make it. His record for his country is well confusing and his record for Man City does not prove that he has what it takes long term.

I just hope the change of club will mean he looks at his career and decides to get it back on track. I hope he makes himself available to play for Ireland and he uses Villa to show how good a player he is.

At the moment I find myself hoping for the best and fearing for the worst with regards to everything to do with the club.

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Hope it works out for Ireland. As of yet nobody really knows if he will make it. His record for his country is well confusing and his record for Man City does not prove that he has what it takes long term.

his record for his country doesnt come into it, since he doesnt play for his country out of choice

and his record for city is that he was fantastic when he got a good run in the team

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would you rather we let a player of irelands quality, a player who'll walk into our team regardless of who the manager is, slip through our fingers when the opportunity is there to bring him in?

honestly?

My point is it's not what I think about Ireland, it's that a fan, any fan, whether a CEO, Chairman, or a Holte End season ticket holder like myself shouldn't be deciding who comes in, the manager should.

If Kevin MacDonald has said "Yes" then OK, but even then, he's the caretaker and there's no guarantee he'll stay as manager. I hope he is a massive success, I hope if Ireland comes, that he is too.

But we don't know that Kev Mac will stay as manager, and then there could be problems with Ireland. I hope not, of course.

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Hope it works out for Ireland. As of yet nobody really knows if he will make it. His record for his country is well confusing and his record for Man City does not prove that he has what it takes long term.

his record for his country doesnt come into it, since he doesnt play for his country out of choice

and his record for city is that he was fantastic when he got a good run in the team

I know he doesn't play for his country, but he has never put forward a real reason for this. various crazy rumours have floated around, but he has never explained fully why he won't play for his homeland. To me it leads me to be unsure where his head is at. this is also backed up by some of his stramge off field antics.

In relation to his playing at City, the point i was making was not that he had not done well the year before last, but that this form had not continued and that the manager had not given him a long run sine. Plenty of players have done well for short periods, but this does not always lead to guaranteed long term success.

As i said in the post I hope he does prove a good buy

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One thing that I think most Villa fans seem to struggle with is that Manchester City are now much, much more likely to win things than Villa.

Yes, they may crash and burn in the long term. Yes, they may not even gel in the short term; Mancini may leave and they may remain trophyless for a couple of seasons. However, if they don't win anything, Villa probably won't be winning anything either - Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and possibly Tottenham will be winning things.

That's not to say that Villa might not gain a League Cup, FA Cup or even Europa League trophy in the forthcoming seasons. It's just that, even if it is all down to £££, only one club out of ourselves and Manchester City stands any realistic chance of winning the Premier League for the remainder of James Milner's career, barring some unforseen heavy investment into Villa or a complete City collapse. By extension, it's possible that City may even win the Champions League at some point in the not too distant future. I hope they don't, and I'd rather see them crash and burn. I'd have loved to have seen Milner stay at Villa, just like I wanted Barry to stay.

But Manchester City are going to offer these players - these human beings - huge amounts of money to play for them, with a significantly greater chance of winning silverware. Yes, Milner may be more likely to be dropped at Man City, but I'm sure that's a risk that such a hard-working and confident young man is willing to take. He may lose his place in the England squad if he ever is dropped, something which may have been much less likely at Villa. But if he does blossom at City, it will probably carry both James Milner and Manchester City forward. He could end up England captain; I don't think that would have happened while he was playing for an Aston Villa side who aren't in the top four.

Sorry if I seem pessimistic, but to me this is just realism.

At the end of the day, we have an excellent player in Stephen Ireland and I'd love to see us push on. I just can't see us pushing ahead of Manchester City, unless we manage to do so in a one-off season. If we do though, and do it through doing things the proper way - the Aston Villa way - then I'll be as proud as anyone. And I'll support the team in that push.

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I'm sorry Blandy, but what you just said is dribble.

If we think Milner is worth 30 Mil Ireland is worth more than the 8-10 mil we paid for him, we've got a fantastic deal. Every player will be looked at by whatever new manager comes in.....He could say he don't like a number of our better players and not play them....Atleast he will have that choice.

I'm really excited for the club this season.

Give Ireland a chance you've not seen him kick a ball yet in a Villa shirt.

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my view is that the £16m - £18m difference in value between the two players is all to do with their respective attitudes.

milner, what you see is what you get; 100% without fail.

ireland, far more likelihood of fluctuation in his performance and attitude.

talent-wise, equals.

so from a purely mathematical perspective if we get more than 40% out of ireland we have done well out of the deal. and i truly believe the setup here at villa will enable ireland to get closer to the 100% level that milner always gave us.

still sad to see james leave us though, i felt very proud to have him as a villa player.

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Very excited to see Ireland here. The thing people tend to forget about Ireland is that when he's riled up, he is raring to get out there and play his best. The lad has been essentially booted out of a club he's been at since 15. He will be on fire this season and be up for it. Watch and see. A bit of faith and support and he'll be fantastic for us.

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Firstly, Milner is a good player, that there is no doubt.

But he is so over-hyped it is untrue.

Yes, he was our player of the year, but come on, it was a hell of a close call. I personally went for Milner, then thought, I got that wrong, I should have gone for Dunne.

Improvement - Milner is 24yrs old, not 19. He will improve, but not THAT much. He has also been very very very mediocre for England so please don't tell me he is international class.

At this stage Gareth Barry is by far a better player than Milner, never mind Gerrard, Lampard etc..

Ireland - who knows, he may turn out like God, he may turn out like Collymore, only time will tell.

All i know is he is a far more talented player than Milner. If he plays 100% and Milner plays 100% - we have the better player.

Temperament has been brought up, yeah, maybe, but Rooney has a temperament, difference is, he has a manager that canmanage that. If we get one, then there is no issue.

I for one am sorry Milner is leaving, I would rather have Ireland AND Milner. But I gotta be honest,give me one or the other, and I'd pick Ireland.

And then you have a small matter of 19 million things that can get us the striker that would put one of the 10 chances our other one had on Saturday !

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That was so good I read it twice. Excellent piece. Thank you.

It was indeed a good read. I don't agree with some of it, but i do agree with quite a bit of it too!

If I have a few mins i might write a bit more. But good article Pete. I too have some concerns about the player we have just signed ... good be a steal, could be a complete clanger.

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There is no doubt in my mind the fact we have sold one of our best players for a second summer in a row was a factor in Martin O'Neill leaving. He must've been thinking what's the point identifying quality players and getting them to come to Villa only for the club, for financial reasons, to go and sell them?

I think at the beginning of the Summer at the meeting with Lerner they decided to try sell the 6 fringe players and hold onto Milner. Then go buy a striker and a new right back with the money generated and then give it a go again. Lerner's statements about not wanting to sell Milner and O'Neill's about not downing tools sound like that.

Then when we couldn't ship those 6 players on for varing reasons and O'Neill reluctantly accepted the sale of Milner but he was going to be denied the money for strengthening the squad because it would increase the wage bill. O'Neill then wanted to keep Milner. But the money was too good not to sell. It all just seems like too much to me, a horror summer basically for O'Neill.

If we just told James Milner you are under contract and we are not selling you this summer. What would he do? He'd get his head down and be the professional that he is and still give 100% for Villa.

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