Date: 2nd September 2009 at 11:45am
Written by:

Martin O’Neill, my father by Saurat

What I mean is, he reminds me of my father. My dad was a tv addict, every night he’d come home from work, lie horizontally on the sofa and stare at the box, every night until the day he died – of a heart
attack, surprisingly enough. But he would only buy the cheapest tv sets and he’d always be amazed when the set exploded after a year or two. Even as a young boy I couldn’t understand why he didn’t buy a better quality tv that would last longer, but he’d only get angry when I suggested it, and continued to buy cheap ones. He wasn’t a stupid man, he worked at Aston University for over thirty years, he just had a blind-spot with money.

The result, of course, is that he ended up spending far more money replacing rubbish tv’s than if he had bought a quality set to begin with. I think you can guess where I’m going with this.

I understand that MON was interested in Thomas Vermaelen but was put off buy the price, £10m. Vermaelen has been in terrific form for Arsenal and already that price tag looks like a bargain. He perhaps would have been a genuine replacement for Laursen. Of course the player was always likely to prefer a CL club, but who knows, if O’Neill had acted quickly enough and paid up smartly, perhaps we could have nicked his signature before Wenger expressed an interest.

So instead of paying £10m for a top grade CB we have spent £11m on two middling CB’s. MON is probably right now sitting in his office congratulating himself, but ‘value for money’ is difficult to quantify in football. The money we paid for Ash now looks cheap as chips, whilst the nominal fee for Salifou was an utter waste. O’Neill has unprecedented power at Villa but surely he is not the club accountant as well as manager and chief coach? The manager shouldn’t worry about getting ‘a good deal’, that’s for Randy, the finance department – and history – to decide.

I’ve no doubt we have a better squad than last year, tiredness can no longer be used as an excuse for a trailing off of form, but quality wise the improvement has been incremental. We will be doing exceptionally well to hang on to a top-six finish, 7-8th is more likely. I think a lot may depend on players like Milner, Ash, Gabby, Davis and Delph stepping up their game, with the World Cup looming next year they certainly have every incentive.

It’s just a shame that instead of choosing the Sony Bravia, MON, just like my dad, went for the Daewoo at Argos.