What Aston Villa Supporters Learnt From Paul Faulkner
After Paul Lambert’s meet-and-greet with season ticket holders last week, it was the turn of Aston Villa Chief Exec Paul Faulkner to chat to supporters, this time via the web. It’s all part of good PR as we enter into a new campaign, so only certain questions would be selected and while most of what was said was pretty predictable – “Christian [Benteke] loves it at Villa” – all such endeavours to have communication with supporters is to be encouraged. We take a look at some of the key Villa and football issues that were discussed.
1. Early transfer activity
As Faulkner said himself, the focus this term was to due the Villa transfer business, as early as possible in the summer. “New arrivals could settle in properly ahead of the season and there wouldn’t be question marks over other players possibly leaving, and also so the Manager had as much time as possible to plan fully for the season ahead,” Faulkner told supporters. The likes of Okore were no doubt identified as far back as January, explaining why Lambert did get a centre-back in during that window, as he only had eyes for Okore, who wasn’t available then.
2. Likelihood of more signings?
It’s no secret that Lambert has his eyes on an Attacking midfielder. The potential of Tonev growing into the role may lessen the need, but as Faulkner said, “There are still 3 weeks left in the window, so at this stage it’s still a case of wait and see.”
3. Do Villa view Lambert’s policy of youth, as a risk at all?
Faulkner may have had a different answer, if the question was asked last Christmas, but any such risk element would have passed, with the experience they gained and the mettle they showed in the second half of the season. “I don’t think that the Manager really considers any of our new signings as risks,” Faulkner told supporters. “He has faith in all of the players he has brought to the club and I think that has been justified. Don’t forget that he made his professional debut as a 15-year-old, so he knows himself what it is like to be a young player playing at the top-level”
4. Safe standing
MOMS attended the Parliamentary debate on the issue back in November (Faulkner actually pulled out as one of the panelists at the last-minute). When we asked the panel about a time-frame, the answer seemed to be ‘How long is a piece of string’. As Faulkner declared, “I do fundamentally think it would be a good thing if done in the right way, and so we’ll continue to support the campaign. Watch this space…” It’s a shame other Premiership clubs haven’t been as upfront and public as Villa on the issue, to help it gather some momentum.
Often vilified by some Villa supporters for the quality of last season’s kit, when it came to what happened to it when you washed it, from a design point-of-view, at least Macron have tried to do something different, especially when it comes to the away kit design. Faulkner was keen to impress that the club also has more input when it comes to the design process. “With Macron we now have a lot of input into the kit design, and they have been very open-minded with thoughts around new designs. Personally I think it’s good to have kits that are unique rather than just based off a template that you then also see other clubs wearing.”
6. He’s on the MOMS wavelength when it comes to the Qatar World Cup.
I’ve personally stayed in Qatar for a whole month when I was younger and I have memories of frying eggs outside on the patio floor; it was that hot in the summer! Serious backhanders/financial promises must have been involved in the decision-making process, as it makes no sense for it be held there. It’s as ludicrous as holding it in the North Pole. When somebody asked Faulkner about the prospect of a winter World Cup, he was refreshingly honest in his skepticism. “I think it would have to raise serious questions as to why FIFA awarded the World Cup there in the first place if hosting a summer World Cup was never going to be realistic.”
7. Faulkner’s favourite current Villa player?
To be fair to him, he could have dodged that bullet to give a pc answer. Again,I points for being forthright. His answer? “I love watching Ashley Westwood play, as I think he’s a really intelligent footballer, and I’m looking forward to seeing his first goal at Villa Park early in the season!”
8. He understands the mission of winning the damn FA Cup again!
It’s good he is conscious of the wish of most Villa supporters, who joined the earth from 1958-onwards to see Villa win the FA Cup, before they finally depart the planet.
9. We have a youth feeder club in the USA
It’s not common knowledge to most fans, but we do currently have a partnership with the Pacesetter Club in Ohio – a development team that fields U9 through U19 age groups teams. So far, a few players have made it in the MLS. The results of the venture in terms of what it does for Aston Villa can obviously only be judged over the long-term.
10. Paul Faulkner will never join Twitter.
You can’t blame him for that!
Follow MOMS on Twitter on @oldmansaid