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

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Are we Keane?

The arrival of Robbie Keane through the portals of Villa Park did not end up in a dream start when Villa played at home against Everton. Instead, Keane came on to play a cameo role for some 10 minutes and everyone was left waiting for the next match to see whether he still had any magic in him.

Magic? It certainly looked like it judging by the method employed in his scoring brace at Wolves, both from outside the penalty area. He certainly has not forgotten where the goalposts lie and hit two first-class strikes, leaving little doubt that he’s earned his lolly already.

Already I am wondering what is the longer-term gain if he’s only going to be available for another six matches. If something about his scoring skill were to rub off onto the likes of Gabby and Ireland (both of whom have scored some beauties in their time, but have been short on regularity) then his sojourn with Villa will have been of great value. On the other hand it could leave the players feeling that they have something to prove on his departure and that pressure could be negative in its effect. We’ve had enough negatives for one season, thank you!

Going by his display at Wolves, and though I had doubts about him before, it seems only sensible to me that every attempt should be made to keep Robbie for a couple of years. It will no doubt cost Villa’s owner a packet, but if the return is a collection of match-winning goals, then it will have been money well spent during this period of transition and re-grouping that has been thrust on Villa’s faithful. Keane certainly seems to still have skills to offer the Premier League and it will only raise the morale of the club’s supporters with, presumably, a restoration of the attendance figures. The argument seems to be augmented by the rumour that Heskey is to leave in the summer. Though Heskey has been disappointing, scoring-wise at least, his experience will be a loss and needs to be replaced by someone who is preferably better. Is Keane that man?

There is, of course, a further corollary to this argument. Hitherto we have been seeing Bent as virtually out on his own up-front. With Keane’s additional presence it would mean that opposing defences will have double-trouble to worry about. And Keane (I hear) is not slow on telling his midfielders how he wants the ball. Perhaps he will wake up our midfield a bit.

I kinda look forward to Ireland, Keane and Bent playing together. How about you?

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Villadom in a Cloud

When I look back over my previous posts about the season, the board and the manager, I read in them my sense of shock that Villa has become simply one of the other teams, and just in the space of the past 18 months.

For the entire period of the 90s, a new generation of Villa supporters had grown up thinking that success was Villa's prerogative - after all, Villa had been top dogs as recent as the early 80s, and the 90s had begun with two runners-up spots in pretty quick time. By the end of the 90s, a series of seasons finishing in around 6th place and a couple of League Cup wins seemed to indicate there was only one matter that was blocking Villa's route to reinstatement of the club's status in the early 80s; one Doug Ellis. After all, it was Deadly that had caused VIlla's demise after the early 80s (wasn't it?) and therefore it must be him that was to blame for not getting back to the top spot.

Simple logic, and it seemed to fit. Get Doug out, bring in a wealthy owner and all would be fine. In 2006, Nirvana seemed to have arrived, and for a couple of brief years all seemed to be going swimmingly well towards Villa's re-instatement. Yes, MON did a few funny things, but we initially forgave him his weaknesses - especially when SHA got smashed 5-1 and some other team was thrashed 6-0. Even I was carried away with the euphoria - I allowed myself to believe that the owner was a good guy and was taken onto the Villa staff. Well, after being spat out from a near-idyllic employment, of course my views changed a bit and I have to say I am not too surprised that matters have since developed the way they have under the guise that Randy has been having financial problems.

Having read the Times' interview of Randy and just now the epistle from AM to the season ticket holders, and also the interview of PF before the disgraceful Spurs match (particularly his bit about ambitions for Europe), I can only conclude that the Villa management (board and team manager) are living in a cloud cuckoo land.

Yesterday Villa avoided equalling the record number of successive home defeats, but still failed to win against an Everton that may be going through worse internal problems than Villa. It still leaves Villa without a home win in 5 matches, and only a couple of goals scored. That (plus the standard of football) is the faire that is supposed to keep the faithful flowing into Villa Park, right? Ugh.

Villa have a manager that must have some kind of quality - he has kept faith with Ireland, for example, and the result of that has been producing some decent play from that player. But then Nzog has been showing improvement of late and now is shoved onto the bench. He didn't even get a chance as a sub. And the player that this week came in with a clarion call - Robert of Keane - is given a 10-minute cameo. For goodness sake, if he's only on board for 7 weeks Villa might as well use him - right?! At least a 30 minute spell on the pitch would have been more understandable.

Meanwhile, a manager who was a defender still cannot get his defence to deal with straight-forward defensive issues. Some manager; some coach. At least he seems to have trained up Warnock to give our keeper some useful on-the-field training!

Less than 30,000 Villa fans turned up yesterday, it seems. That seems to be a definite indicator that the fans are getting fed up. The only people still taken in by AM now seem to be the board, as I read it. Well, as they clearly have no notion of what football is about, and particularly seem to know nothing of Aston Villa (despite their assertions), the future is definitely not bright. I see it as being particularly murky.

Still, the world is changing in such a way that perhaps in 12 months' time football may well be at the very bottom of our concerns. Not that I am pessimistic about life - I'm definitely not. Energies used on football now have to be transposed onto something more positive, despite 60 years of the Villa.