A few quotes from Villa owner and Chairman Randy Lerner.
From The Daily Star he made it totally clear that Martin O’Neill will be our manager for next season.
He said: ‘I gave him the assurance I wanted to take the team forward. I was not worried he would leave. He wanted to know about my commitment. He asked specifically, ‘Where are you, Randy?`. He wanted to know what`s on my mind. There`s money there to be spent, but I`m careful not to simply say, ‘Here`s a brand new amount of money, go and spend it`.’ Adding, ‘And I`m not dismissive of the realities that a player that has received the attention and acclaim of James Milner is going to spark discussion about a move, but we are going to do everything we can to keep him.’
He also told the press he had assured MON that he did want to move the team and club forward and says the agreement to keep the manager shows good continuity for the players.
Must admit what has impressed me is – as a lot of us were asking for – the situation has been resolved very quickly so the speculation can stop.
Randy added that the relationship between owner and manager is ‘as close as ever – if not closer’.
Comments picked up by www.rte.ie are interesting as Randy says it isn’t just about money to break the top four: ‘The ambition and appetite to compete for the top four, qualify for Europe, is alive and as well as it has ever been. Exactly how to do that is a bit more of an open question than simply spend to get there. If that was simply the case, then the composition of the top four might be slightly different. Exactly what the path is, and whether it is as brutally raw as spending more to get there, is an open question in my mind but I don’t really have a tidy answer.’ Adding we have strength in the continuity of the manager and also his ability to bring in the likes of James Milner who went on to become PFA Young Player of the Year.
The harsh reality of finances do play a part though, the recession hasn’t helped and as most of us agree (?) we don’t want this club left with massive debts like others around us, especially with new turnover to wage/debt rules set to come in.
In quotes from www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk amongst others Randy said that money was available but warned ‘a £30 million striker would be out of our budget but there is money there to be spent on the team. I say that carefully in the context of knowing that the summer brings a very dynamic environment of players coming and going so I’m careful not to simply say ‘here is a brand new amount of money, go and spend it. I would prefer to say our ambitions remain to get better and we are not in some sort of mode where we are shutting the door on spending on players.’
He was also asked about the speculation that there is a sell to buy policy at the club. Randy answered honestly ‘there is a sell to buy policy in every organisation on the planet. On the other hand if an opportunity arises and the net ‘sell to buy’ doesn’t equal what is required to take advantage of an opportunity, then you may spend the money.’
Reasonable. This was never an Abramovich style takeover, they were very clear about that from the start and also said they were going to respect the heritage of this mighty club, something they have done in my ever so humble opinion.
On the big question, will James Milner be sold this summer, Randy said he isn’t worried and thinks he will be at Villa next season.
Then again, who knows what offers might come in and the decision, as always on player purchases and sales lies with the manager. £20million bid? No way. £30million bid? Hmmm. More? What would that do to build the team? Very difficult decisions as Milner is a real fans favourite already and has been great in the centre of midfield. One thing Randy has proved though, he’ll not be bullied into selling a player.
‘I’m not dismissive of the realities of the situation whereby a player who has received the attention and acclaim of James Milner is going to spark discussion and debate about whether or not he will move. But I don’t worry about him leaving because he is wanted at this club. We will do everything in our power to keep him.’
And finally on Villa he says he is still very ‘excited and privileged’ to be at Villa. He promises ‘Next year will be exciting and worthwhile and I look forward to it.’
So say a budget of around £15million to £20million? On top of that, there will be departures, some of which – Luke Young and maybe even Curtis Davies could generate £10million or even more (Davies cost between £7.5m – £10m according to which report you read and Luke was £6m ish) + a few other fringe players, so there would be scope to wheel and deal and bring in some quality to add to the starting line up you would think.
Roll on a great transfer window and roll on next season!