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

Saturday, 27 October 2012

I Pity Lambert

I did try to see sense in the Benteke sub, but couldn't other than that PL perhaps feels obliged to play Bent to keep him happy, but I cannot see that Lambert is the real reason why Villa are in this state.

Trying to grow a new team in the Premier League, on the cheap and without on-the-field leadership of quality, is not a thing to be recommended. I think that Villa would have scraped home today but for the sending off, but that's not really the point. We're now in for the trickiest of periods and we'll be lucky if we come out of it with any morale left. Unless the team somehow raises itself. Somehow!

PL hasn't complained about lack of support from the board, but he should i.m.o. It now seems clear that Villa need one or two quality players to lead a young team through this, but you only get those if you're willing to pay the appropriate wage. Lerner is plainly not willing to do that, and to have paid up to £24m. for a striker who now cannot get the kind of ammunition he feeds on, is (and has been) an utter waste.

No, I do not see PL suddenly becoming a bad manager. He may be panicking a bit perhaps (hence the sub he made) but he showed at Norwich that he had the nous to do a good job. What he needed when he came here was some experienced Prem players of quality - just a couple. That he didn't get them is not his fault. Or perhaps he thought that he would get the quality out of Ireland, or was persuaded he had to try that. Surely it's commonsense?

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Old is Gold

A bit of wry news came my way this week. I learnt that Peter Lupson's and my book 'The Inspirational William McGregor' is sold out at the Villa stores and is being discontinued as a line in their catalogue. We are both surprised at this. Very surprised.

Now, some may say "Well, so what?" But this point is not just about the discontinuation of a book, it appears to be a reflection of the official attitude towards the club's heritage and traditions.

After all, the story of William McGregor is one that I would have thought we're all proud of - it's timeless. If the club was as proud of the club's tradition as we are then surely the management would ensure that at least some copies of this book would always be retained and visible in their stores.

Their decision comes after purchasing and selling just 66 copies. This compares to another 420 copies sold in the rest of the country - mainly in the north of England and Scotland - and overseas. The south (of course!) were barely interested. Even the Football League didn't want to promote it, but made sure they got 5 free copies.

As we had around 500 printed, we were left with about 16 copies and I offered these to the Villa stores at a discount. After all, William McGregor was a Villan I thought. But the offer was refused.

Meanwhile David Woodhall's books always remain on the shelves of the Villa stores. I have nothing against his books whatsoever, but in my opinion they do not really reflect the majesty of the club's history. Maybe his books have more of a commercial edge, regardless of the content.

And then we move onto the matter of the museum. It was part of the plans to re-build the North Stand and the car park complex, but the whole project has been mothballed - for now, we are told.

But I cannot for the life of me see why a temporary museum cannot be made available until the main development comes into effect. Even Doug Ellis did something in that direction. After all, 3 years have already lapsed since plans were drawn up. This development would not only help to promote the greatness of the club's history and its influence on the professional game, but would also bring in extra cash to help the club's finances. I feel that such an investment would help in changing the country's overall perspective of the club.

When I was at Villa Park (in 2009) I was asked to provide some financial arguments to show the sustainability of a Villa Park museum. I did some research into the museums of Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal (and one or two others as I recall) and discovered that Man U sometimes achieved 300,000 visitors in one year - but more typically 200,000. Chelsea and Arsenal were of the 100,000 annual visitors variety.

So, I put forward a conservative figure of around 50,000 annual visitors for Villa and, at an entry fee comparable to Man U's, there would have been a substantial financial return. And the Villa stores would have benefited in the process. The idea seemed to have been accepted at the time but, surprise surprise, I found myself sacked within 3 months and the idea of a museum was no longer a priority.

I understand that the state of the world economy has changed very significantly since 2009, but football somehow marches on and refreshing ideas do need to be implemented to improve the club's image. The way the club is promoted now is as though it is just another football club; I feel that the aspirations of the Children of the Revolution have been removed.

It is said that 'old is gold', and I for one believe that is a good description of Aston Villa.

The club's history may be in the past - but what a history! And what a history to be made something of.

And, since we have a fan by the name of Tom Hanks, I would have thought he could make a very good movie to help his favourite club along! I wonder who would play the roles of George Ramsay and Archie Hunter?