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

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Is Villa Aspirational?

Well, a season or two back, we would have considered ourselves to be every bit as good as Newcastle or Everton - or even Spurs - and probably better than any of them. But a year or two is not long in football for one's aspirations to be brought right back down to earth.

This week-end, we have seen the Magpies turn on some absolutely magical style to provide pleasure to their fans and some measure of help in the economic suffering that many are experiencing in the north-east. At least the Geordies' sufferings are a bit ameliorated by the pleasure seen at the ground I will continue to call St. James's Park.

Yes, Everton conceded four goals at Old Trafford (as did the Villa), but what a finish they produced and confirmed the suspicions of many that Man U's defence has its weak points - none of which were tested by the Villa last week.

The final insult of all in this remarkable week-end is that we had a lead at Anfield that Villa allowed to drift away from them, only to be shown today that perhaps the Baggies have a bit more idea on how to go about it.

Now, let's for a moment think about the fizzogs of the three managers of the clubs just mentioned. The Magpies' manager's face is generally cheerful, and he manages to generate cheerfulness in his team's play. Moyes and Hodgson, though they can produce a worried brow, also seem inspired to produce the best out of their teams. All these managers, in fact, have not needed big sums to produce satisfactory results. Add into that equation many of the performances from Swansea and Norwich this season, and we can all see that money is not the be all and end all of the game.

But I have hardly ever seen McLeish able to raise a full smile - anywhere. Does that not indicate something in the attitude of a manager, and thus on the style that the team he manages is going to produce? For me, what Villa has been producing all season seems to be born out of worry - not remembrance of "the beautiful game".

Birmingham (and Villa Park in particular) needs something to cheer about!


Thursday, 19 April 2012

Has He a Ticket to Ride?

News is creeping out from the woodwork that the current forecast at Villa Park is for 4,000 season ticket sales for next season. Well, if this proves to be the case (even as little as 12,000 would be very worrying for the owner) it would be on one hand a very, very sad situation, but on the other hand if that lack of support proves to be the reality and it helps the current managerial incumbent to depart early in the summer, then perhaps that will be progress.

But under Randy Lerner, I am learning to wonder just what is going to come next! For example, Randy might just stump up funds in the summer to buy good players in the effort to attract fans back into the fold, and yet leave McLeish in managerial control. The development of that scenario may well be that Villa might succeed in getting back into the top-10, but perhaps with a team that should have been challenging for top-6 and/or a domestic Cup trophy to boot. I'm beginning to see McLeish as a manager that will always produce a lower return than the squad at his disposal deserves - and, perhaps worse, playing uninspiring football. I remain convinced that it would be a disaster for Villa for McLeish to remain in any circumstance. If he were to stay I would see Villa being in perpetual mediocre mode.

On the other hand, if Randy Lerner does replace McLeish, just who will he appoint? Will it be an imaginitive manager, one already with a proven track record or one with star potential? Again, unless Lerner seeks sound advice from someone who understands Villa and its supporters, I see another wasted appointment taking place.

The year 2012 has indeed proved itself to be the end of a calendar. Just what is going to happen next? The answer is indeed in the firmament.