Sunday, 10 August 2008
I am trying to make sense of the Barry-Liverpool saga. Last week, it seemed that Barry et al believed that Pool were within an ace of stumping up £18m or its equivalent. Perhaps Finnan was part of that deal, and that he seems to have declared he did not want to leave Pool has perhaps made the difference and caused Pool to retract from the £18m valuation. Pool's owners are asking (it seems) whether they should invest so much in a player who would be 31 in four years, at the end of his proposed contract. And they have decided "no". Well, they have just paid £20m for a 28-year-old (vs Barry at 27), who has a different but precisely equivalent affect on his side - he's positive, he's (sort of) quick, and when he scores he pulls the trigger - click! However, I would say that maybe Keane will only be successful for another year or two, whereas Barry could go on for a long time. So, are Pool fooling themselves - and everyone else?! And, what is worse, have they mucked up Barry's career? I'd suggest that for Barry to pick himself up now and perform well for Villa will take a lot of character. I would welcome his stay, but can he now do the business? And will he retain the captaincy?
Villa's latest signings set up an extraordinary situation where Mr. Capello need not go anywhere else but to Villa Park to find his team! A slight exaggeration perhaps, but with the two Youngs, Shorey, Davies, Agbonlahor and (still) Barry already having had at least England squad experience, and a wealth of other players waiting in the wings after development through the Vila's youth system, then, indeed, Villa possess a rare posse of England talent that has its equivalent at few (if any) other Premiership clubs. And the signs are that Villa could be adding more English names to their collection as Martin O'Neill looks around to see what he can add to the midfield and striking departments. Villa are on the UP!
Friday, 8 August 2008
Whilst the world will always give rise to opinions and interpretations that vary with impressive spontaneity, I am lost as to what has activated a negative view of MON's craftsmanship to date. Just what and who else were we supposed to get at Villa Park? And just what has gone wrong in the past two years? If it is mainly the absence of a proper right-back (and there it was a lot down to hard luck in Delaney's career being cut short), then still to be able to fill it sufficiently well to elevate the club to a well-earned 6th place has proved that a good craftsman can even get the best out of a piece of ordinary rock rather than seeking the glamour of a diamond. MON himself as oft-spoken about the shortcoming at RB, and this week he has gone and done something about it that is significant. We now have virtual solidity in goal and right through the backs and centre-backs, though one or two more in numbers will not go amiss. The strength in that department should now provide the base for the launch of counter-attacks that will be exploited by the pace of Gabby and the other Young, and if the attack could score as many as they did last season, how many should they score this year? OK I speak as though I'm high on ecstasy, and the reality is that it may well take 2 or 3 months before we start seeing the best of our team. But I do expect to see it, and in fact with the addition of more talent before this month is out. There's one more thing. Having had the fortune to be able to read in great detail about the building of previous great Villa teams, I am immediately struck by certain similarities of today with the Villa team of the early 1920s that mostly came together in a short period of time. The strength and guile of the old full-backs Smart and Mort; the indefatigable resilience and creativity of skipper Barson and his colleague Frank Moss, and the remarkable speed and thrust of York and Dorrell all strike home with me as having their equivalents in the team now coming together at Villa Park. In other positions there are similarities between then and now. We are short, however, of one major player. An equivalent to Billy Walker. Keep hoping and praying!
Saturday, 2 August 2008
"... He knows he's lost Barry and probably lost him this summer. But he's throwing down the gauntlet to clubs who think that next time they'll lure away Ashley Young or Gabriel Agbonlahor. Take me on and I'll fight you all the way, screw up your summer and hopefully grind you into submission. Many Villa fans say he should accept the situation, take the money and get a few new faces in. "But they overlook the point he's making about the size of their club. He's saying he's not at Leicester now. He doesn't need to sell to buy, and doesn't feel it's his duty to allow a player to move to a big club because they are already at one." See the rest of the article.