Date: 27th February 2009 at 10:30am
Written by:

Villa went from proud flag flyers in the home tie against CSKA Moscow to white flag wavers in Moscow. Hopefully the man making the decisions won’t come to regret such actions, it certainly calls into question what is the point of the UEFA Cup and more especially what was the point of us entering the Intertwobob in order to qualify. Martin O’Neill admitted himself the irony that the focus all of last season was to qualify for Europe only for us to decide to rest the sort of players who need European experience in order to – hopefully – make a good account of themselves IF (WHEN?) we qualify for the Champions League.

The opinions in our forum and I’m sure all other Villa forums has been mixed to say the least. I understand football has changed and everyone is now in love with the cash rich Champions League and that to gain qualification (remember, if we finish 4th we go into the qualification stage not the group stages, think that is the case with 3rd as well) and that we would be able to attract a higher caliber of player – if indeed that is what our manager wants as he has shown little to no sign of wanting ‘big names’ before now.

For me it does leave a bitter taste in the mouth. I’ve only just received my copy of Claret and Blue and within it there is a big splash about how great it is to be in Europe once again. Why the fuss when squads like last night are played against a quality opposition? If we aren’t going to take these Cup games seriously, lets at least declare that at the start, if I’d known I might have saved myself a good few quid going to the intertwobob game and the home UEFA Cup games. I’d certainly have calmed my dreams and not worried so much about the excitement and expectations which have been raised time and time again with the constant talk and quotes on the official site from players and management.

Maybe I’m just struggling with modern football – or some people’s interpretation of modern football at least. Coming 4th years ago used to be called losing the league. Now it is apparently more important than lifting some silverware. No, not for me. I know the politics, I know the importance of raising our profile, I know we need top class players (hopefully MON does as well), I know the Champions League is now the holy grail but I also know how it feels to see a Villa Captain lift a cup. I know the rush of adrenaline. I know the emotion and forcing back the tears of joy. I know the pride and swagger that follows.


THAT is kudos.


THAT is football.

A few changes to rest a few players is a great idea, to surrender the game before it starts – to me – is an insult to the history and heritage of this club and a major mistake. If the players are that tired, how come they are rarely if ever subbed or rotated? I’ve had so many texts, calls and emails in the last week from others just as downhearted and de-spirited.

It has saddened me greatly and I can’t help but question what football is now all about. Not about what I thought it was, WINNING. COMPETING. DREAMING.

Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate – under just as much if not more pressure with where Boro are in the league – on their cup game the other day:

‘It’s important because football is about dreams and we’re keeping the dreams of our supporters alive….It’s something to look forward to, it keeps some enjoyment in the season and gives us some confidence for the league.’

How nice, how true, how exciting would it have been to have progressed? Today I’ll be mostly gargling to take the bitter taste away. The threads in the forum are fascinating as some are saying it is the lowest they’ve ever felt as Villa fans and others are sure what was done was for the greater good. Hopefully the latter day Saints (!) are correct and we do have the messiah in charge. With 6 transfer windows now under his belt, I can’t help but wonder why we don’t have the strength in depth so obviously needed for our apparent ambitions.

Ho hum.

We’d best hope Arsenal don’t win the Champions League this year if they fail to catch us: Rule 1.3 states: At the request of the national association concerned, the Uefa Champions League title-holders may be entered for this competition … if they have not qualified via the top domestic league championship. If, in such a case, the title-holders come from an association entitled to enter four teams for the Uefa Champions League, the fourth-placed club in the top domestic league championship has to be entered for the Uefa Cup.’

If we finish 4th and they win but don’t finish in the top 4, we go into the UEFA Cup. Maybe I could suggest a few songs to have the players run out to, we might as well be honest?

Now at least we have the focus of the league, hopefully starting with a blistering win against Stoke.



15 Replies to “From Villa Flags To White Flags – Modern Footie?”

  • Wonder what the reaction would have been if DOL or GT had done this? 100% bile I’d guess! Now lets thrash Stoke eh?!!

  • Re: ‘If we finish 4th and they win but don’t finish in the top 4, we go into the UEFA Cup.’ Part of me hopes this happens in a twisted yet deserved twist of fate…teach the speccy one a lesson.

  • From what I’ve heard, this is what our players wanted too. They want champions league over everything else. Unfortunately that’s the reality here and a few of the fans are ignoring this fact. The cups only come into play if we slip down the league. The domestic cup competitions and UEFA cup have become a shambles. It’s a shame. The only way to make this work would be to provide entry to the CL via these other competitions.

  • I’m 51 today so perhaps I am really becoming an old fart and I don’t understand the game any more! I remember Dennis Mortimer being interviewed either just before or after the European Cup win. He said that he loved playing two games a week – you just got into a rhythm and that he preferred it that way. Is it just the mentality of the players that has changed? Two games a week just doesn’t seem to be asking too much to me.

  • That would be a great way to ‘up’ the cup competitions Tarzan, totally agree. The European Cup used to be for champions only. Maybe the CL should be for league and cup winners instead of a top four in a league? Never happen I guess but it would make every cup essential and far more interesting.

  • Agree chesh, players should try working 10 hours days 6 days a week on a building site, two games a week my heart bleeds. oh and get paid peanut then spend it on a cup competition that we sudeley decide were not bothered about.

  • Most other teams fans I’ve met this season have been really complimentary about us this season. Saying “I really hope you guys break into that top 4”. Let’s give it our best shot. Come on you Lions.

  • I?m afraid I have to agree with you Mr Fear and maybe it is an age thing (even if I?m not quite 40 like some!). A Clubs history and ultimately standing in the football community comes down to honours for me, not taking part. We do still have a good accompaniment of honours but recent history is poor and the vast majority of the honours were won before 1900. Hopefully we can break the top 4 and get entry into the Champions League to prove the doubters wrong, but for me the big sting in the tail is are we as a Club ready for that step up? Not only haven?t we looked too great this year in Europe but can we build a squad this summer to compete at the next level? I don?t think we can, which begs the question is the possibility of being steamrollered in Europe good for the Club? Taking part will be an experience but at what cost for the long term. We keep being told by the same people who tell us the Holy Grail is the only priority that steady growth is key to success, yet we are now in a position of punching well above our weight. This begs the question what is the point of football nowadays if the only concern of fans is to qualify for the Champions League? We have no hope of winning it and for all the riches that is poured on those Clubs that take part, success has still been few and far between for most. Maybe attracting top players is an ambition for some or even the majority, but for me the few trips I have made to Wembley to watch us lift a Cup have been some of the most memorable experiences in my life as I?m sure they are for many Villa fans. What we want is a Club that cares about challenging for honours to give us the memories and history we all crave, not qualification into a competition we don?t yet have a chance of winning. We all agree the Club is going in the right direction and everyone wants success, however, just because we disagree on the way we reach that goal doesn?t make any of us wrong or whingers, it just means we are all craving success.

  • totally agree Hoss, just because we have questionned what has happened does not make us bad supporters, wrong or whingers, we’ll still be there shouting the team to victory on Sunday! Must admit pretty much everyone I’ve spoken to ‘in the real world’ are feeling the same. Must admit the sheen has been taken off this season, hopefully come Sunday when I’m getting my pie in the Trinity the excitement will replace this disappointment!

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