By Chris Kemp
Another defeat, an old favorite confirms his status, a new favorite steps up his comeback and the club reportedly gets another price reduction….
We all know that money talks in the Premier League – and Villa did very little to disprove that fact. Long term success can be bought through transfer money and wages. It’s not hard to see that. The estimated price of the Villa team on the field at Stamford Bridge was £17m while the Chelsea team was more than ten times that amount at £180m.
Yes, yes. Villa beat Liverpool with the same line up that played Chelsea – even outplaying them at times. And what about Leyton Orient’s win in the cup? A rational Villa fan would see that if both those games were replayed ten more times, Liverpool would probably win more than half, and Orient would lose more than half. So there’s good news and bad news for the current spending policy, and it’s been evident in this season’s results: the new players have given us more of a fighting chance of winning games that might have been lost last season.
Without a sugar daddy owner willing to drop hundreds of millions into the team and restructuring (including, presumably a big name coach to control the superstar prima donna names that would be brought in), Villa will have to make do with a fighting chance and some stability.
That’s a good thing if you have a long-term view of sustainability and a sense of history. And a bad thing, if you want to see Villa move up to the next level of competitiveness overnight by potentially selling their soul. With no new owner in sight (at press time… though there are rumours… read on) it’s not like there are many options but supporting the team and keeping the faith.
The Chelsea game itself had its moments, but there’s no plan B to the tactics and without a big target man (read on)… there are significant flaws in the plan A.
Lambert has conceded he plays the way he plays through necessity, and it must be said that some of Villa’s most entertaining football has come after key players were sold to finance a new-look and a tweaked philosophy. David Platt’s sale to Bari gave Ron Atkinson enough money to bring in an entirely new team that played in a very different style to Venglos and Taylor, while the sale of Dwight Yorke to Manchester United brought in Dion Dublin and Paul Merson, both of whom are popular players among fans today.
Which begs the question, would the sale of Benteke, Vlaar and Delph be enough to bring in the players to transform Villa’s fortunes? Unfortunately, due to the length of contract left of the other two, perhaps Benteke would be the only one to bring in any real sizeable transfer fee.
Also, is it naive to sell our best players to teams already better than us and try and replace them on the cheap (see Ashley Young/Charles N’Zogbia)?
Stiliyan Alyoshev Petrov has emerged as a modern day Aston Villa legend, mainly down to the determination he showed on and off the pitch for the club. After a couple of seasons of adjustment to life in Birmingham he made more than 200 appearances for the team, became the club captain, set the record for the furthest-out goal scored (against Derby) and was the winner of player of the year, and player’s player of the year as Villa enjoyed their success under Martin O’Neill.
The (then) unique tribute to him in the 19th minute has inspired football fans in this country as a way to show their appreciation in a spectacular way.
But like very few players in the Premier League era, he continues to prove his passion for the club as was seen with his appearance in with the Villa fans against Chelsea. With this kind of bond with the fans, he is legitimately a member of an exclusive club that includes Paul McGrath and Ian Taylor of players that will be warmly remembered for generations – not even necessarily as winners but for their honest graft, their cool play and knowing that wearing the Villa shirt means something very special.
PEOPLE GET READY…
Not for some time has a reserves/U-21 game had as much focus as the game played against Bolton on Monday afternoon. Of course, all eyes were on the competitive comeback of Christian Benteke, who netted a penalty after half-an-hour to open the scoring. The big Belgian was subbed after an hour, which could indicate that he’s ready to make the squad against Manchester City.
Beyond the delight of hearing CB is coming back, it must be noted that Joe Cole also scored (the second in a 3-0 win) and that he is close to being involved and also that Jores Okore not only came through the game but was also active in supporting the attack (like he did in that YouTube clip we all saw of him for FC Nordsjaelland against Chelsea).
The other point to note was that Jack Grealish started the game and impressed again. Surely it’s not too long before starting Grealish in the first team switches from being a ‘brave’ decision to a ‘common sense’ one.
CHEAP AT HALF THE PRICE
Always wary of tabloid newspaper reports without attributed quotes, fans will have interpreted reports of Randy Lerner slashing the asking price of the club by a third in order to get a quick sale with some doubts. There would be some logic to this – selling high (as in league position) might twist the arm of a billionaire looking to snap up a bargain, but with Lambert signing a new deal and on the back of two league performances that reinforced the gap between the haves and the have-nots, this sounds a lot like a hack putting two and two together and assuming he’s close enough to four to write a story about it.
There’s a lot of assumption here and frankly, if the club didn’t have appeal at the asking price, does a discount really make much difference to a new owner who is serious about hanging around, taking the club into the Champions League and making a return on his money? Behind the scenes, there could be a nice surprise in the offing. But this “news” seems like speculation or “best guess” considering the evidence we were given in the stories.
MOMS Twitter – @oldmansaid