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

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Are we facing a disaster - like previous disasters?

After sleeping on the (non-)events of the last few weeks surrounding Villa Park, my mind drifted back to the previous main downfalls in the club's history.

These were (as if we need reminding) the mid-1930s, the late 1960s, and the early 2000s' situation.

And I have to ask myself why was it that there was big change instigated in popular fashion then. And yet, when the club is approaching another dire situation, the current board manages to retain the affection of a segment of the fanbase and may well retain sufficient loyalty even if the club gets relegated.

I wasn't alive in the 1930s, but my feeling about the next two sad periods of history is that those downfalls occurred primarily because the board failed and because they had become too familiar to the fans. They had been in power for too long and, with the slippage, they lost the respect of the fans. In both cases it took some time for a revolution to occur.

What is the difference now? Simply that the current owner established an affectionate link with the fans merely by spending money for 3 years in a way never seen before by the current generations. So, despite his about-turn stance (for reasons we have largely tried to accommodate in our reasonable selves), we carry on thinking that a form of Eldorado will be found; that Aston Villa will succeed once more.

Indeed, until January I felt that if commonsense signings had been made then the board would be seen to be what we thought it was during its first 3 or 4 years. That nothing really had changed: that Premiership survival would probably be obtained and Mr. Lambert would have the time to re-shape the team into a basis for success in (maybe) 2 or 3 years time.

But those signings did not materialise in January, and I am afraid that Monsieur Sylla looks to me what he has been - a French second division player. He might well turn out to be a good purchase next season, but in the current state of things now is not the time to blood such a player.

Though we gained a valuable point yesterday, all the other teams around us did the same, or better.

And our home record is as bad as it could ever be. It's been like this at VP for two seasons now - never before has the Villa fan had to endure such a situation. The team has to make a significant improvement in its performances to succeed in the forthcoming home fixtures.

The Villan in me always wants to think positively, but I have to ask ... is the current board doing anything that is any better than we experienced in the late 1960s or under Doug in the early 2000s? Is it at least equally capable? I'd say not to both questions.

But what to do? I suppose we are to sleepwalk into the logical outcome - a relegation with no guarantee of an early return.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Looking forward to Spring?

January is over and the snow has gone - for awhile at least. Should we therefore be feeling a bit warmer and looking forward to Spring? Well that is a leading question, I believe.

Aston Villa-wise, we have been looking aghast at what has been going on down at the Aston Lower Grounds these last 2+ years, and if we thought that another Bent-like saving grace was to appear before the close of the 'window', then we have sadly been let down.

Just what has happened these last 2 years? In January 2011 a package of some £24 mill pulled in Bent to do a saving job and he just happened to be the final link that was needed to do that. But since then it's nearly all been downhill.

Just at the point when it looked to me as though some real experience is needed to be pulled in to help turn things around at the 11th hour, we instead get a French league two player and another who has tasted precious little Premier League football.

When Villa were in very similar circumstances in December/January of the 1955-56 season, Villa went out and spent a little fortune on players of real worth: Sewell, Dugdale, Sims and Smith. They proved to be the main basis of the Villa team for the next 3 or 4 years, so solid were they, and, importantly, they enabled Villa to fractionally scrape away from relegation for that season at least.

Will these latest two signings be able to help Villa to do a similar escape act, now? Well, if Dunne is not to appear again then Villa really are up against it as cracks are still showing, even with Vlaar's return.

So, we are left with these yawning questions - does the owner really care about the club and its potential dire position? Does he really believe that Villa - if relegated - will be able to bounce straight back up again?

Even if the answers to those questions is "yes", then it's plain that he has scant regard for the traditions of the club and the feelings of the real fans that are left, but are beginning to dwindle. We didn't welcome Randy Lerner to lead the club into this sort of position - it's partly for the reason that we thought Doug was leading Villa that way that we welcomed Lerner to bring back some hope.

This Odyssey is very close to hitting the rocks. But being the Villan that I am, I wait for that fair wind that the forecasters have not yet seen coming. The sails may be torn and holes may be appearing in the hull of the ship, but hope remains eternal.