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

Monday, 26 January 2015

Did Someone Find A Spanner?

The machine was in need of fixing, so someone found a good engineer and now everything's fixed - some might say!

Having scored two goals, and fine ones at that, and again seeing a Villa defence being mostly well-organised and well-led by Clark, we could be forgiven for thinking that the season has turned. For goodness sake, even Delph has put pen to paper and will be with us until at least the end of the season.

At least we had a day that ended with Villans having a smile on their faces.

Now for the downside.

The match yesterday was against lower-level opposition, but an opposition that has got a reputation for scoring. And eight against our Small Heath neighbours (earlier this season) can't exactly be sniffed at. Not only versus lower-level opposition, though, but a performance from Villa that did not auger well at the end of the first half: the sound of boo-ing was discernible at the end of the first 45

It took a magical goal from our new signing to put life into Villa and their game. And when it became 2-0 there was a temptation to relax and say everything's fine now.

But ... and there has to be another 'but' ... our supposed star talisman is not clicking. Christian Benteke seems not to like being a conventional striker, to put himself in where it might hurt. There were two occasions in the first half when he could have done better - he should have found the anticipation (the sign of a good striker) to get in there and at least make it difficult for the opposing defence. Some say he's lost his confidence, but why should that be the case? He has scored three goals since he came back from injury - and fine ones at that - but in the last few games has shown signs of being moody and wanting the ball exactly where it suits him. And not exactly using the benefit of his height and weight to good effect either.

And though Gil looks promising, he hasn't yet shown much sign of an understanding with Benteke to bring the best out of him.

Villa's next two games - against the Gunners and then the Pensioners - will be big testers for this renewed Villa. I await with baited breath to see the outcome of those two fixtures. From those games we will be better able to gauge the club's outcome this season. For me, I feel Villa are still short of a quality player - and need Benteke to be scoring once more.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

When There Was Width ... AND Quality!

We have heard, have we not, of how the prowess of Aston Villa used to lift the workers in Birmingham so that the following Monday produced an improvement in production.

Just folklore or not, I believe that the idea of it is not a daft one. After all, if you were physically working in a hum-drum and repetitious activity for very long hours in the days of non-TV and (until the 1920s) no radio, then you’d want something to lift your spirits. And investing a tanner to visit Aston Villa would provide that lift, both through their quality of play and their achievements, aided by a pint at t’ pub. And the Blues and the Albyun in those days usually had a good team, too, to ensure that when Villa were matched against one of ‘em there was plenty to talk about after. What days they must have been – I missed nearly all of that era but remember elements of that atmosphere in the days of packed terraces in the early 50s. Including that guy who, every home match, would walk on his hands from the centre-circle to the goalmouth. Different times; different people. What fun.

Days that have all gone now. The old-type heavy industry is no more, the cloth cap has gone but the trams are making a bit of a come-back. The culture of the country is vastly different from what it was 40 years ago, let alone 100 years ago. And Aston is no longer the district of local Villa supporters.

Sadly, the claret and blue colours look rather insipid these days: once they seemed to have a rich hue about them but now the colours look to me as though they are (literally) all gloss with a bookmaker’s name scrawled across the front. It’s all about money now – the so-called ethos of knowing the price of everything but knowing the value of nothing.

Where has the quality gone? Quality in the kit, yes, and the quality on the field in particular. All has gone downhill, it would seem, apart from the prawn sarnies (perhaps). But are our expectations of the club too much? Some supporters of other clubs took drastic action when their clubs went down unwanted roads, like Wimbledon and Man U, but is Villa a different case? Way back in 1936, Fred Rinder, that grand old bastion of the Villa (and even in the days of the club’s first real depression), still opined that Villa were, and always would be, a great club. I always believed he was right, until about 5 years ago when I started to feel that things were not good at the club. And in Villa’s history, 5 years of downturn is a very long time indeed. The length of this period in the club’s history can only be compared to the latter half of the 1960s. And it then took more than 6 years for the new regime to get things back on track: but they did – in grand style.

‘Where there’s life there’s hope’, they say. Can we have a 1969-type resurgence all over again? I now have me doubts, even though relegation has not yet taken place. The game is now a different creature to that which many of us fondly remember, and the money element is seen as what drives it along.

But it is people that have historically really made the difference, so where are the kind of people that really feel for the club and could help in another resurrection … the new Harry Parkeses and Eric Houghtons? And the fact that Villa could once draw on the then recent club experience of Vic Crowe and Ron Wylie. It’s that intimate connection that still existed back then, but I cannot see that level of connection and commitment in existence today.

Perhaps there’s a message here, about a broader picture. Premier League football now consists of precious few teams of real talent; the so-called top players live in a totally different world it would seem, and the lower league teams have really suffered since 1992. Perhaps we should examine the question whether top-flight professional football has passed its sell-by date; or perhaps we are content to go along with this ball-game within a ball-game and wait just to see what happens.

“The times they are a-changin’.” (Dylan, but best sung by Brum’s Ian Campbell)
Peter Paul and Mary version.

Friday, 2 January 2015

Boo, boo .... boo-hoo!

To quote some other fans...

It is now a fact that no club in Europe or USA or South America have scored less goals than Villa.
The Aston Villa FC goal of the month competition is taking on a life of its own now. 

It's also a fact that many old supporters are getting very ashamed about what is taking place on the pitch. Though the type of football lately being played is technically an improvement, it is played at such a pace and without variation that it is no surprise that chances are not created.

To think I spent a lot of my time encouraging would-be supporters to follow Villa when Randy Lerner took over (and I succeeded) and to now see what has developed over these last near 5 years ... I am appalled. The whole club should hang its head in shame.

It's enough to make you weep...

When the club had the temerity to sack me in January 2010 (5 years ago) I said then that the club would go backwards. It has. So far back that it's almost sunk.

What McGregor, Ramsay or Rinder would make of this lot I hate to think... 

We need a cure for this sickness ... and quick.