“We are Aston Villa, We are going up, We are going up”.
I’m gutted we just missed out on promotion, but now I see hope again. Yes, we nearly did it, but ultimately trying to buy our way back up with big players by Championship standards, whether bought or on loan, was always a gamble. Now we must face the consequences of taking a risk that didn’t quite come off.
All this means is that we now must do what we should always have done in the first place. With our money, our crowd, our facilities, there was no need to gamble. A more balanced approach, spending less, and blooding one or two more of our own talented youngsters might even have got us straight up. No one knows, because we didn’t try it. But even presuming it would have failed, it would have left us now with a bit more money left in the coffers, and the likes of O Hare, Bree, Davies, and to some greater extent Doyle-Hayes, RHM, Lyden and Clark, all with more games under their belt, and better prepared for the season after.
We now have to start that more realistic approach. Whether it leads to promotion next season or not, I know we will get there in the end – because we are Aston Villa. If we budget sensibly, play tactically aware football, and have the right management and coaching team in place to bring the best out of our younger players – then all the other inherent advantages of being Aston Villa, will win through in the end.
So, here we go. We need £40million I hear, and a fire-sale, asking only for some of our money back on most of the players, but not accepting silly bids. There is no need to. Ok, it may not be easy to deliver – but even at much reduced prices for the likes of Kodja (£8m), Hogan (£8m) and McCormack (£3m), along with nearly everybody Bruce bought bar Bree, £40million seems very achievable.
I’ll not flatter or insult the rest with possible transfer fees, but if we got £19m for our attacking threesome, along with already £3.5m for Gollini for starters, that would leave £17.5m to raise from Elmohamedy, Taylor, De Laet, Elphick, Whelan, Jedinak, Hourihane, Lansbury, Tshibola, Bjarnason, Adomah – just do your own maths – it seems do-able to me – and along with savings in wages (even if we have to continue to pay huge chunks as part of any deals), it soon mounts up.
Of course, not all will choose to go, instead choosing to do a Micah Richards. Not all will be easy to sell. Not all will we even get half price for. But some we will get decent money back.
There is no other option for me. We simply have too many players on too much money. Just cashing in on the likes of Grealish (even for £50 million), and Chester, is the exact opposite of what we need to do. It is not just about raising money. It is about keeping our very best players (who will remain financial assets in the longer term anyway), getting a less bloated squad, and building a team for promotion and for the future, with an increased emphasis on a much better balance of experience and youth.
So who would that leave us with? Steer or Bunn, Bree, Chester, Clark, and offer Hutton a new contract. Midfield – Lyden, Doyle-Hayes, Grealish, O Hare. Up front Davies, RHM. I can hear some screaming now, that lot is a recipe for disaster. Where is the experience? We would get out of the Championship, but the wrong way, and do a Sunderland!
But look again. That is a decent Championship defence, perhaps with one addition or maybe keep Elphick. I have every confidence despite its youthfulness, that the midfield would be an improvement on this year’s. And up front, there is potential. Yes, it would be a gamble – but a gamble on youth, rather than a gamble with money we do not have and cannot afford. And this would only be for starters. Maybe one of Hourihan or Adomah would not need to be sold. And we would still be Aston Villa, and we could then add a couple of quality experienced loan signings to replace a couple of the ones lost – players that would still be much more readily attracted to Aston Villa than almost any other Championship club.
All in all, I am confident this set of players properly motivated, coached, and managed, could compete in the middle of the Championship. Also they would, like Fulham, get better as the season progressed. We would be building for our promotion, whether next year or after. We would entertain our fans, who will back a young footballing team. And sooner, rather than later …. we are going up, we are going up!
Now all we need is the right manager to set that in motion?