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

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Blast the Premiership!!

I wonder whether the Premiership has proved to be the scourge for all Midlands teams?

Since 1992, the Villa - even without winning anything League-wise - has been leading the Midlands as the area's Pride (an epithet I like as it's associated with lions!), yet it's a false-placed pride in one way with no league silverware to go with it - and just two league cup triumphs.

At the start of the Premiership in 1992, Villa were equal with Man U on the number of championship wins. Twelve Man U championship wins later, look where Villa are now in the pecking order of top clubs. Yes, Villa are still overall the fourth greatest club ever in terms of overall results. But, since 1993, we've not even finished in the top-3, and Villa can now just about regard itself as a top-8 side. Rather as Houllier described the club, really.

But at least Villa are still (comparatively) financially well-managed and look to be pretty safe in that way. In short, the philosophy is not much different to Doug Ellis' days - all that's happened with the Lerner takeover is that the Villa now have the ability to maintain the level they had in Doug's days. That is all.

But now there's no ability for supporters to have a concrete say in the direction the club should go.

Randy Lerner has refreshed the club beyond question, but unless he has a magical wand, we all know he's now not going to be able to effectively challenge the top-5 and perhaps not even the top-6. Unless - and this is a very big 'if' - Villa can somehow start playing the sort of stuff we saw Barca play yesterday. That kind of play is virtually unbeatable - and it would fit in the Villa's tradition of long ago when our club were top dogs.

But can Villa start playing a la Barca without spending trillions? I think it's possible - Barca has a sense of unity about it that is developed from the nursery upwards. Villa have that structure. Barca play for one another; everyone is a potential striker - look at the quality of their three goals from three different players. Villa can do it.

All we have to do is get the defence sorted out and we're there aren't we?!

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Still Pride of the Midlands!

It is strange (isn't it?) how we can be looking back on the season to observe how Villa are still the Pride of the Midlands, despite the Mail's attempt to claim the title for the Baggies a few weeks ago! Not that the title applies for just one season, of course, and it is clear that Villa remain greatly ahead of the other Midlands' competition.

Blews, as always, are all talk and no testosterone!

But I am pleased that the Baggies and Wolves are still in the Prem, and in the charge of two managers I have a lot of time for. I wish them well.

It's so significant though that the real control over English football lies in two centres - London and the North-West. It's about time that all changed.

Villa's last two matches gave a taste of what might be possible to work from next season. However, end-of-season matches are not too much of a guideline; I particularly think that 'Pool did not want to qualify for the Europa. But I see 'Pool being a force to reckon with next season ... there really will be a big 5, i.m.o.

As we have been saying since 2006, "these be interestin' times". The way this last season finished leaves us with a taste of hope, at least. But the real hope should be for success in the cup competitions. We have lacked pride in those and it is 54 years and 15 years since we got success in either domestic cup.

That - according to Villa's tradition - is way too long.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Anfield is a great place! ('Arry Redknapp)

'Arry Redknapp happened to let it slip in his post-match interview that he regarded Anfield as (paraphrasing) probably the best place for football in Britain. I wonder if 'Arry is now going to get castigated by Spurs' fans for that statement? Probably not - they won there!

So ... this surely puts Jez's regard for his old club in perspective. I can thoroughly understand his affinity for Liverpool having been connected with the city as a teacher as well as in football for much the greater part of his working life, and apparently studied Shankly's tactics.

However, Villa lost badly at Anfield on the occasion of Jez's comments, and (in the context of that) he was berated by Villa fans. I still say it was an innocent (slightly foolish - we all do 'em) mistake on his part, and it was not worthy of Villa fans to go for the jugular as they did. Their behaviour was a lot worse than Jez's i.m.o.

The best thing to happen now to put the unsavoury matter into the past is for Villa to soundly beat 'Pool this week-end!

Notwithstanding all that, 'Arry's words do cast an interesting aura over Liverpool FC. What's so wrong with Villa Park, I ask myself.

How Much Further Can He Bend?

The balance and accuracy of Villa's number 1 striker is quite amazing. Nay, devastating!

His ratio of goals to clear chances must be 90%+; he is a true 'sniffer', and one that is becoming to be in the same class as Allan Clarke of yonks ago. I questioned why Villa should pay so much for this man, but if it had not been for his goals since January, just where would Aston Villa be today?

I would love to see him get his tenth Villa goal versus Liverpool next week.

The key question now is, what is to happen next season? And it's not just one matter up for consideration with the question of the manager's health and the decision to be made by a certain Ashley Young.

Putting aside the matter of the manager for one moment, I now feel that Mr. Young's departure, on balance, would be an error at this time. The club has seen Barry and Milner go in successive years, and for a third one of reasonable quality to go in a third year would just not be enabling the side to develop and, very importantly, not encouraging Mr. Bent to stay either.

Though it is feasible to say that Mr. Young is dispensable, the Villa need to develop as a cohesive unit, and there are going to have to be changes in the defensive area as it is.

It might all still come good for Villa this coming season. ... I hope!!

Sunday, 15 May 2011

The Villa At Wembley!

There they were, one ex-Villa player after another paraded on and around the pitch ... I was trying to convince myself that it was Villa grabbing the glory at Wembley!

Sorenson ... Barry ... Platt ... and then (only he could do it!) ... John Carew - and, in the wings, Milner.

Just why did Villa let Sorenson go...?!! He made a couple of world class saves.

14th May 2011 must be the only day since that famous Villa day in 1897 when the nation has come to know the winner of both the main domestic trophies on the same day, as Man U are confirmed champions with their result on the same day.

In reality, the day was nothing to do with Villa, and, just now, Villa seem a million miles from glory. But there is next season.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

The Throstle Sings!

The Villa and the Albion have been at it now for nigh on 130 years, and the Baggies have always been capable of pulling off a surprise against the Villans. Many a time before 26 years ago did the Villa supporters slink home in dread of facing their Albion-supporting colleagues when they went back to work on the Monday. Luckily, this Monday is a bank holiday - it gives an extra day for the potential wise-cracking and cajoling to lose its edge.

This latest defeat against them has something extra unsavoury about it, though. Given a gift start after just 4 minutes and ending up the match with a reported 59% possession, several more shots at goal and the Albion reduced to 10 men at 1-1, just how could Villa not have won this one? What has happened to the Villa shooting (?) - it cannot all be left to Bent.

It looks as though the Villa defence again went to sleep in the last 10 minutes (this is happening so often that I almost wonder whether they are paid to do it!) and Villa's attack could not find anything to at least come away with a draw.

As readers will know, I am always very willing to let the management team have a very fair crack of the whip, but I've now run out of excuses. There have just been too many times where late lapses have cost, and the Villa are beginning to be seen as toothless, despite the passing football which I have welcomed.

We enter the last three matches probably safe from relegation, but will we drop more points against Wigan? And the apprehensive thought of being thrashed by the Gunners and Dalglish's Demons is all too real for comfort. A couple of games ago I was thinking that Villa might be psyching themselves up for classic clashes with the two red teams, but now I'm beginning to be afraid.

Of course, it's over the last two weeks that M. Houllier has been sadly sidelined, but the noise from the Villa camp has been all about his ailment uniting the Villans. Where (oh, where) is that unity?

I'm getting fed up with just words. We want the old Villa spirit back!