Date: 12th May 2009 at 2:52pm
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Well next season hasn’t even started yet but it seems we are laying the seeds for prioritisation again.

Martin O’Neill has Europa issues, apparently ‘those in charge’ haven’t paid enough attention and have failed to reduce the number of ties teams will have to play.

The obvious outcome of this failing will be that fixtures will become congested and the new shiny UEFA Cup replacement will become devalued by managers fielding weakened teams.

Hey hold on a minute, isn’t that what we did!

Anyhoo O’Neill has argued that the review of last seasons competition gave Uefa the opportunity to reduce the number of matches required by simply removing the round of 32 stage.

However, Uefa instead decided to reduce the number of teams from five to four per group, but increase the fixtures by making it a home and away format.

Quoted in the Telegraph our manager said:

‘There are too many games. One thing they could have done was that whoever comes out of the group stage would be in the last 16, like the Champions League. The last 32 is a round too many. I accept there are more teams and that there are teams that drop out of the Champions League and go into it, but you can devise a system that those teams that come out of the group should be in the final 16.

‘It should have been redesigned with that in mind because you can see the problems teams in the Champions League have had. Manchester United, going all guns blazing for every single competition, go to a semi-final of an FA Cup and play a weakened side. United can possibly get away with that but there’s fixture congestion at the most important time of the season. And that’s the Champions League. So you can imagine what it’s like with the extra Uefa Cup games.’

The new format means we will have to play an additional 17 games if we are to win the competition so next season, unless we spend all summer signing quality players, what will suffer?

Will it be domestic Cups again, Europe again?

God forbid we ever qualify for the Chumps League, that would probably be too many games aswell. What happens if O’Neill gets his way and Celtic and Rangers are allowed to join the Premiership – that could be four more matches we’d have to play.

Oh well at least we have a few more derby games next season to look forward to!

Failing that for you gamblers you should get decent odds on us from the bookies, if the media are starting to write us off before the season even begins maybe we can lower our expectations so much over the summer that finishing in the Top 6 would be like winning the World Cup?

I quote from the Telegraph:

‘Unless O’Neill brings in a large number of new players this summer – something he is not expected to do – it seems unlikely that they will have the squad depth required to compete in both the Premier League and Europe next season.’


18 Replies to “It’s All Europa’s Fault”

  • God forbid professional footballers who are payed millions to play football have to actually play it more than once a week.

  • Of course he’s talking about prioritisation – he’s a professional manager, not a terrace hero. There isn’t a decent manager in football who wouldn’t make that decision given the same situation. I’d like to know how it would have suited the critics if MON had played his strongest team in Moscow, won, and then had precisely the same results as we’ve had since? You all act as though it was guaranteed that we would win the Uefa Cup if we had got through Moscow. Let me tell you that I would have been VERY pi**ed off that we had ‘thrown away’ our chance of breaking into the top four just to take a gamble on winning the Uefa Cup, especially given the quality of the teams left in it. I for one STILL believe that our manager’s GAMBLE was the right one, and I’m glad he had the guts to make it. But if you believe we should act like the Scots at the World Cup, and fail gallantly every time rather than doing a balanced risk assessment and prioritising, that’s up to you.

  • As for players being able to play more than once a week, Lerner, you are as usual entirely missing the point. Of course they could play more than once a week if they were playing parks or semi-pro football. We’ve all done that haven’t we? But nobody, no matter how much money you pay them, can compete against people who have more recovery time between matches.

  • Agree with the sentiment of prioritising the league BTB but having made it so clear to everyone, it put too much pressure on our players and other teams could see that and used it against us. We have fallen at the penultimate hurdle dramatically!! Still have the faith that the team and MON have all learnt from this dramatically and am looking forward to next season even if we do have an extra couple of games….

  • Think Mon has a point, to many games, i prefered it when it was just a knockout. UP THE VILLA.

  • To be fair, Villan, MON had no choice but to ‘make it clear to everyone’. He made his decision and the press quizzed him on it, so what could he say other than agree that he had prioritised. I sometimes think he is too honest for his own good, but I prefer that to the other sort …

  • Yup, MON is spot on here. FFS, as he says there are more games in the Europa than in the Champs League and even United struggled this season playing in a competition with less matches (FA Cup against Everton). If it comes to a point when a team like Man Utd need to field a team of kids in an FA Cup semi final to prioritise the league and champs league something is seriously wrong.

  • Maybe if clubs constantly field weakened teams, gates will fall, sales from TV rights will fall etc, then UEFA will realise that this format is just completely stupid? Or am I just being very naiive?

  • I don’t think that’s stupid Beo. In my opinion, top football clubs (owners) are generally too greedy for the survival of the game as we know it. Let’s face it, it is a far cry from the Saturday afternoon and occasional night match (jumpers for goalposts, etc) that we used to know and love. It’s a bit like having strawberries any time of year – no great thrill any more like it was when they had ‘seasons’ … Oops – showing my age again :o)

  • * “top football clubs (owners) are generally too greedy” – apart from our own good man, who is a gem, I might add!

  • Bit of an agenda creeping in to these articles isn’t there? I read the (more balanced) article on other sites and thought – yep, spot on. It’s a ridiculous amount of games to play, and I fully expect us to de-prioritise it again to focus on the Premiership. Another excuse to knock MON for what….stating a fact?

  • If O’Neill thinks the Europa Cup will get in the way of our bid for “Glory” of finishing in the top 4 of the Premiership, why doesn’t he just tell UEFA that we don’t want to enter.

  • Well said Yatesy. I’ve not bothered coming on here as much lately due to the amount of negativity around the manager. You’re comment is refreshing for me to read though. You’re spot on, there is an agenda building towards the manager and players and its typical of Villa fans. I don’t know if its a case of the minority being louder than the majority or what, but its a bit silly and I think people need to take a step back and calm down. OK, O’Neill threw the UEFA, get over it. The fact that we still had a good push for fourth is something I’m proud off and enjoyed, I’m looking forward to next season to have another go. Its been a long time since I’ve been able to say something like that coming into to pre-season. O’Neil is spot on regarding the new UEFA set up as well. Its pathetic and pretty much means we have to play another half a season within one season if we’re to get to the final. Simply, a joke.

  • The answer is quite simple, enlarge the squad with decent players. If we are going to finish in the top 7 year on year then we will have half a season extra to play each year. No good bleating about it, do the sums and get whatever players we can afford – but make it sustainable. I don’t expect mega stars this window, but I think there will be a steady stream of good quality coming in, and I expect more rotation next season.

  • I agree with PBAVFC. Sooooo much negativity. The fact is that there are too many games, because football is run by greedy people who cannot see that more games equals more money but dilutes the quality. The only ones who lose out are the fans every time!!

  • “We could ave won it” – yeah, and we could have won in Moscow and gone out next round to one of the many great clubs that remained in it. Get over it, please get over it. Bored now …

  • “If O’Neill thinks the Europa Cup will get in the way of our bid for “Glory” of finishing in the top 4 of the Premiership, why doesn’t he just tell UEFA that we don’t want to enter.” The answers pretty obvious, isn’t it? When you enter the competition you don’t actually know how your Prem season is going to go, so you enter everything. It is only as the season progresses that you know how you want to prioritise. Every major team prioritises, including those with huge, expensive squads that we can’t (yet) hope to compete with. I’m happier to leave that sort of decision to Martin O’Neill and Randy Lerner than I would be for the fans to make it.

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