Thoughts and issues regarding the past and present of a great football club by "The Chronicler".

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Where to now?

The feelings of the typical Villa fan are currently probably akin to the feelings of the bride spurned at the alter. She thought that her future was laid out, but she was cruelly cheated.

1982 was a year that resonated strongly in the Villa camp and has done ever since. It has been the constant reminder of what can be achieved given the right ingredients, but, significantly, the manager that effectively took Villa to their climax was also lampooned at one stage during his team re-building. Despite his achievements to 1979, he found that the Villa fans expectation was high (and totally expectant) despite the fact that only 5 years before the club was stuck in the lower division. But he (and Tony Barton) won out in the end.

Since then, Villa’s fortunes have waxed and waned, and, because a new owner emerged in tandem with a manager that somehow was seen as having charisma a-plenty, Villa’s following thought that a repeat of the 1982 success was just around the corner. In the three years culminating in 2010, expectations were maintained, only to be dashed when their hero manager walked away – and at a deadly moment.

In stepped a former Liverpool champion. He was virtually the only manager available with any significant pedigree, and was given the job of turning around what may well have been something resembling a debacle. I presume the highly-qualified M. Houllier has seen something drastically awry at Villa Park, including the scouting system, the players’ reward structure, the fitness regime, the attitude of some senior players and the style of play. In a brave move, he has chosen to try to attack all the deficiencies from the outset and during this process encountered one player injury after another. Furthermore, he has still not had the chance of buying-in new talent.

AVFC have already used 27 players this season, and there have been hardly two matches in sequence when the same team has walked out onto the pitch. Nevertheless, I feel that M. Houllier knows what is needed and is trying to build on rock rather than the sand that characterised the previous manager’s period in office. In January he has the opportunity to sign a couple of players with the iron in the soul necessary to keep Villa afloat this season.

Yes, we all know that Aston Villa should not be where they are in the League, and all Villa fans want the matter sorted. There have been troubles before at this great club, the most serious of which occurred years before the current younger generation of supporters. There was a way through those former troubles, and there is a way through them now. However, no knee-jerk reaction is going to get it ‘sorted’; the manager has a very difficult job and, really, the only way of fans helping the club is to acknowledge that promise has been shown (take the Manchester United match as an illustration) and to vociferously back that promise and M. Houllier’s work in moulding a basis for a better push next season.

The solution to the current situation is partly in the hand of the Villa supporters. Encouragement is what is needed right now, nothing else. Let's get through January (and the transfer window) and see what has happened before judging.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

From Disintegration to Re-integration?

Yes, matters are looking serious. But for some reason I felt some weeks ago that the matches leading into January would be potentially a slippery road and that I could not see where wins were going to come from. However, Villa did get that 2-2 draw vs. Man U (when Villa should have finished the game in the ascendancy) and then beat Albion, but it's now 6 defeats in 7 matches and everyone is getting worried. Worried did I say? ... Frantic is perhaps the better word.

However, the defensive problems were there before GH came … 0-6 at Newcastle? The 1-7 at Chelsea last season was a signal that things were not right. This season has seen also many injuries and the fact that some senior players who should possibly know better have not shown the proper example.

But at this stage, the only way forward is to get behind the management of the club … to bring in some 'iron' during January as a stop-gap may well be the only solution, but at least that solution is available. The skill is otherwise in the side, and with players who've been out for some time still trying to get back into their game, 2 or 3 weeks more may have to elapse before we see a resurgence.

Getting rid of GH is not the sensible option.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

I Like Gerard!

It's alarming that so many so-called Villans are jamming the forums with complaints about this and about that, regarding Gerard Houllier. The name of the game these days (it would seem) is "Instant Success", much in the way of Newcastle who seem to appoint a new manager every six months.

Houllier has inherited a squad without (yet) any opportunity to purchase what he wants, and has several times been without the availability of key players.

And then he gets reviled for showing his totally understandable Gallic feelings at Anfield. Good for him, I say.

As a Gaul he would only express himself in the way he did. I think there are too many Brits that have never tried to understand the French/Latin mentality, and it's about time they tried to adjust.

What happened at Anfield has nothing to do with his level of professionalism. He is Villa's manager, and if the fans will let him, he will show what he is made of.

It is clear from his press statements that he is applying his own approach to how Villa should play, and that includes matters of discipline and training. Players who are primarily concerned for themselves are not going to find the conditions are congenial at Villa, but it doesn't matter who they are, if they can't fit in then they shouldn't be with Villa.

Good luck, M. Houllier!! I have faith in you, at least, and know it will all take a bit of time.