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

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Aston Villa In A Nutshell

I have pleasure in announcing that my latest Villa book (Aston Villa In A Nutshell) is now available!

Where else can you obtain a small book (jacket pocket size) that contains all the main facts about the club in just 86 pages? And at only £7 (GBP) in the UK with discount for multiple purchases.

For more info please click here.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Paul Faulkner (2)

I have just seen this article:

It's well-written i.m.o. and gives a different and interesting perspective about PF.

My feeling remains that he was learning on the job, but there were/are certain traits about him that are entirely positive. It's just a pity he didn't come into the job with a c.v. that had football written all over it.

I wish him well.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Paul Faulkner

Mr. Faulkner, Villa's presumably erstwhile CEO, is moving on. I for one wish him well at a personal level, particularly as his very young son has a condition which will be challenging for his parents to deal with. 

In respect of his affair with Aston Villa, I believe this is a very good thing to have happened. With all due respect to him, Mr. Faulkner has been learning on the job, and you just cannot do that at such a level in a big sports operation that is Aston Villa. What has occurred in the four years he has held the post has seen Villa's standing plummet to a dangerous level - and I am sure that's not what we thought would be the result of Randy Lerner's takeover in 2006.

Now in bringing in Mr. Lerner's name I am bringing up the fact that it was he that appointed Mr. Faulkner after getting nowhere with two well-qualified CEOs - men that knew the game. The writing should have been on the wall for us to see then, for goodness sake! How come that two such men walked away from their jobs so easily? But, presumably because we had witnessed Mr. Lerner's very good work and investment in the refurbishment of the club, and that because he appeared to be backing his team manager, we became myopic. The result has been that the past four years have been a very painful time and I do not believe that it was necessary to go through all that. The club's fans have been given very short shrift in the main part during this time.

I hope - I really do hope - that we have the Bright Future that Mr. Lerner referred to in 2007. But we have to wait and see. However, I am sure we will not be quite so easily taken in by the new owner when he arrives. Would we be so foolish?

Saturday, 5 July 2014

What's Happening To '"The Beautiful Game"?

Last night, we saw two teams (Brazil and Columbia) who showed that they could play some open, wonderful, exhilarating, stuff.

But there was also another side to the game - not helped at all by the referee's lax attitude - and that was the sheer lack of concern by several players for the physical safety of their opponents. Appendages flew in from all angles with most being ignored by the referee and we now learn that Naymar (one of the few that has demonstrated real skill in the World Cup finals) has a broken vertebrae resulting from another, careless, challenge. 

And it exemplified how little the players knew about the rules of the game when James Rodriguez complained that he had been whistled-up for a foul but that he had used his shoulder. The trouble was that his shoulder had been applied to someone's chest. Do players' not know that the 'shoulder' rule applies to shoulder to shoulder contact? But he is not the only one not to understand this - many flout this rule and do not get disciplined for it. Pushing is rife.

For some years now it has made me boggle that players get away with so many fouls in the penalty area - particular when corner kicks are taken. Shirtpulling and pushing in these situations and in open play is rife and yet referees are tricked too easily. And many referees and their assistants seem to ignore their occurrence, particularly within the penalty area.

Last night's game could have been a a really great game. But it was so badly tainted by the rash challenges and referee myopia.

Added to the case concerning Suarez, I wonder what the likes of Pele think about what's going on? Sir Stan Matthews and Tom Finney would have been appalled.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

On The Matter of the Midfield

After the frankly many terrible displays during the 2011-2013 period and their continuation into 2013-14, manager Paul Lambert finally conceded that the team lacked quality in midfield. Specifically that Villa were missing a 'number 10' of the Cowans/Merson mould, so we can say that it's been a very long time indeed since we had a 'general' that could ping a few balls about to good effect, and to make us believe that football is not just about huff and puff.

The 1990s saw a trickle of fine players come and go but in the midfield area (after Cowans and Platt had departed) there was no further playmaker of great note until the veteran Paul Merson arrived in late 1998, despite the earlier contribution of Richardson then Townsend and then Draper.

And since Paul Merson left in the early 2000s, there has been no-one able to replace him in that particular role of his, as an inspirational playmaker. With the absence of high midfield quality since 2003, Villa's style has depended considerably more on speed and effort. During O'Neill's time in office, the presence of Barry, Young, Petrov and Milner had glossed over the need for a specific inspirational player. Indeed, they have become harder to come by, and a young one would cost a fortune.

So, in the arrival of Joe Cole we have a possibility that causes me to equate with the arrival of Peter Broadbent in the Autumn of 1966. Like Broadbent, Joe Cole is a player that has probably seen his best days and has suffered injury, and though he was never a 'general' in the sense that Woosnam, Broadbent Cowans or Merson were, my mind does boggle to think that Cole may just have that matured skill of being able to 'sit and ping' searching balls to his Benteke-led strike-force, exploiting their strengths and pace. It's quite a thought; I pray that's what transpires. Former midfielder Paul Lambert may have had that vision when he signed Cole.

But the cynic in me will of course say 'Well, what if Cole gets injured for some time. We're then back to square one, aren't we?'. And that cynic may well have a point. And, also, 'where is the player that will help stem the opponents' ability to break through?'

We have a potentially interesting season coming up. Let's hope the cynic will be shown just how wrong he is. As another Lambert (Wellington's divisional commander, General Lambert) said to my 40th of Foot ancestor at Waterloo: 'Go for it young man; go and ping those balls of yours and send 'em scurrying back to whence they came!'