I’ve read this thread (JF: forum, containts adult language) with absolute fascination.
Here are more than a few observations from an ‘interested` outsider;
All fans of all clubs now throw the ‘fickle’ accusation around against anyone/any other set of supporters at every opportunity; it has simply become a cliché generic term of accusatory abuse. Empirically it is redundant, but that won’t stop anyone using it when they think it will cause the most harm. Repetitive users of it do so as they`ve run out of logical responses or are unable to articulate a meaningful response.
It would seem to me that the use of the ‘fickle finger of fate’ rises and falls in direct relation to your own clubs short-term success or disappointment.
As to MoN: from my perspective you’ve just come off a highly successful season, with two trips to Wembley to boot and in one you came mightily close to turning over the second best team in the land and winning a trophy.
It doesn’t matter who or what quality of teams you beat along the way, the whole point of Cup competitions is that over 90 mins teams there is always a chance a team from a lower division or of generally poorer quality will not only match you but raise their game way beyond any previous levels they`ve attained: this why it is labelled ‘the romance of the cup’ and is why Cup competitions exist. If you can`t grasp this simple truism then I`ll never understand why you`d ever follow football, let alone a team you purport to love. Any arguments against this is counter-intuitive i.e. we might as well all turn up on day 1 of a Cup Competition and simply hand them over to the Top 2 clubs in the land and be done with it.
So MoN`s had three/four years in the job to turn around an ailing club that was slowing sinking to either bottom of the league or lower-league mediocrity/obscurity.
He has spent alot of money, you all think that spending money should equal greater success, look around you, it isn`t that simple. I`d also say he`s had to spend money as he started with a lower base that some of your competition (such as us).
I believe that this season the competition for 4th was probably the fiercest in the history of the Premier League, and it`s likely to be just as tough, if not tougher next season. Man City can for the time being still spend money with impunity, but fortunately for both our clubs not for too much longer. Spending money does not give you or any club a divine right to buy a ticket to the Champions League ball.
In the meantime Spurs and Villa have invested in training facilities infrastructure (in our case some £30 mill for a state of the art training centre and academy that should be ready next year), but both clubs have done so as a priority for the future well-being of the club so as in the future to improve the likelihood of producing our own players that ‘may` go some way to addressing the monetary imbalance (which ultimately equals spending and wage paying ability) between us and the clubs above us.
We are hoping to build a new bigger stadium as future increasing matchday revenues will become critical in respect of spending power. It also has knock on effects on sponsorship deals, corporate deals and even the attraction for more TV picks. As I understand you too have plans to re-develop and to increase capacity. As far as I can see from reading your accounts, if you don`t then you will never have any hope of filling the ‘spending-power` gap that Villa will have should your owner ever stop subsidising your operations. Now I am perfectly sure that this investment in Villa will by necessity be curbed over coming years and that any Manager will have to maximise returns on non-playing players whenever possible, especially as squad sizes will remain restricted, it doesn`t mean however that any manager should stop themselves on investing on players that could potentially improve squad competition and Team quality, however, as we all know these investments do not always pay off. Every club and manager in the Premier League has from time to time made some howlers in this respect, and my bet is they`re keep doing so.
If there is one constant criticism I`ve seen here, it is the style of counter-attacking, long ball football you play more often than you should. I cannot defend MoN in this regard as I do feel that you are overly negative at times given the quality that you appear to have, having said that, I`d say some of the results you`ve gained against the ‘Top 4’ , were prior to the end of this season, results that we`d have ripped your arms off for…
My expectation is that now that Milner is in the middle, Downing settled and Young finally realising that it is not the number of crosses, but the quality that matters along with your defence and some of your fringe players you are well placed to make another step forward. Personally, I think the root of all your ‘supposed` negativity revolves around your Captain – but that`s purely a subjective view of watching you when I can.
As for the criticism in regards to a recognised RB not being used, all I can say is that Cueller has probably been one of the best defensive RB`s in the PL this season, but a top-notch attacking wingback he isn`t and is probably never likely to be, but then nor is Luke Young.
As for every other position that I see debate about here, all I`d say is you can only make improvements when all the factors come together to allow you to get your man, and I`ve seen a stack of people who ‘mostly` with the benefit of hindsight have pointed at Bent as a huge miss, personally I`m bemused by this as if you`d asked any Spurs supporter the season before if we`d have swapped him for Agbonlahor we would have probably ripped your arms off, and most still think that he`s a far far better prospect than Bent, but just needs that little bit more experience.
In ending, I`ll apologise for the length the post, it wasn`t what I intended when I started it! I also apologise for sticking my nose in to a ‘domestic` but as I thought you were our closest rival for 4th/5th/6th place finish last season I`ve followed you on and off the pitch closely.
I also happen to believe that there are more similarities between the clubs development on and off the pitch than some ‘hardcore` supporters understand or will ever agree with.
One final observation, be careful what you wish for; you have an Owner most fans would kill for, and if you honestly think that another owner is likely to come along that will invest even more in a business than he`s done and is doing, is I think the domain of the fantasists.
Purely from a business perspective you simply do not have (currently) the paying fan-base or overseas brand/following to attract the sort of billionaire owners some think you could get.
Stick with MoN, he gets it far more right than he gets it wrong, and he appears just as ambitious as ever – mind you, I freely admit I do understand why some get so upset at your style of play, but it seems to me that it’s transitional as by nature MoN prefers attacking flowing football, well at least he did at Celtic.
Full debate: this thread (Forum, containts adult language)