Date: 23rd February 2009 at 4:50pm
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Martin O’Neill has again used the ‘prioritise’ word ahead of our second leg clash against CSKA Moscow. Hard hat at the ready.

Speaking to Sky Sports O’Neill has admitted that he will have to think long and hard about which side to select for the Moscow tie because of us chasing a Top 4 finish this season.

O’Neill definitely sees the Champions League as the Holy Grail for Villa this season, and maybe we are closer to reaching that than he ever imagined but for a focus fans seem reasonably split.

‘The irony of it all is that we spent all last year breaking our necks to get into the Uefa Cup. We started in July in the Intertoto just to get into it.

‘Now we are in the final 32 and we are maybe having second or third looks at it.’

I’m not sure that’s true myself. Some of the selections for the UEFA ties already have left things to be desired, same as the selections for the domestic Cup’s since O’Neill arrived. So I’m not sure I follow that he’s now taking second looks at it, he seems to have done so all along really.

Which, if the Champions League is the be all and end all this season, was the UEFA campaign simply to give our younger players European experience without ever intending to really make an effort to win the competition?

‘I have to try and please Villa fans and I think they would look at that and think the Premier League, which can eventually drive you into the Champions League, is the Holy Grail.’

Maybe I’m selfish, but what’s tiredness really when you’re on £20-30+ a week? I know it’s starting to have an effect on the squad now and legs will be becoming heavy when matches come as thick and fast as they have done last week for example but I don’t see the Champions League as the Holy Grail worth sacrificing everything else for.

I think we should make a genuine attempt to win everything we are within a shot for. In fact I’d go as far as to say if he wants to play the second string, then it should be during league games and not Cup competitions. You only get 1 shot, maximum 2 shots in a Cup comp to secure a result. You’ve got 38 games to rectify mistakes in the league.

It may be the Holy Grail financially thesedays, but I’m traditional.

‘It seems strange we are in that position. Had we been seventh, eighth, 10th in the league, it might have been a different outlook.

‘Football has changed and chasing a top-four place in the Premier League, to get you into the Champions League, is everything.’

And therein lies the problems with todays ‘beautiful game’. I’m just pleased that we are now trying to live in the real world of football whilst retaining as much tradition and history as we can.

The financial fan in me says blood the youngsters and those who need to work on their fitness in Moscow and secure Top 4.

The Villa fan in me says, don’t rest a single sausage – at least give them 45 mins – and let’s put the tie to bed and look forward to the next round.

If anyone is tired, they can avoid the bar and go straight to sleep after our comfortable win on a cold dark night in Moscow.

Ok, yeah well, I’ll let them have a couple to celebrate first, I’m not that evil.


7 Replies to “Selection Policy Is A Headache”

  • anything other than our strongest side would be madness, we are out of the domestic cups, surely winning is a habit and one that our players are getting quite good at in the league but experience shows that the second string just isn’t good enough in the cups?

  • “what’s tiredness really when you’re on £20-30+” – it’s the same as tiredness when you’re knackered after a day down the pits on 30 bob a week. If you are getting less rest than other players/squads, then you will be more tired, relative to them. Earning £40 million a week won’t make a difference then. You can’t buy energy …

  • i say rest a few also. keep em on the bench incase we need a late winner. would love to go through but its all about top4landness

  • Here’s a great quote from our favourite cheerful cockney, ‘appy ‘arry: “We’ve got to play Monday and Thursday and we’ve got a cup final on Sunday. It’s ludicrous. It showed why I rested players. People should understand that is why I do my job and that is why they do their job.” Managers are paid to look at the big picture and to evaluate where their main goals lie, while we fans have the luxury of wanting it all, however realistic (or not) that may be.

  • Disagree 100% with the article. PJVilla is spot on IMO – if we don’t make CL this year i’d say our chances are going to get a lot slimmer next year. Can you really see Chelsea and Arsenal having such a poor, inconsistent season again next year? Not me. And what do you think Man City are going to do in the summer – spend spend spend and they’ll be a major force next year. We have to put ourselves in a position to compete. It’s now or never, and it’s not the financial aspects that are driving this – it’s the prestige. Top players only want to come to clubs that are competing at the highest level – and that’s the CL. Until we get there, we are always going to struggle to attract the top top players. UEFA can wait.

  • Only the winners get remembered, and it’s too long since we won anything. Whenever you talk to an opposition fan the scorn issue is “and when did your lot last win anything?” I would like to be able to say “2009, the UWFA Cup!” next year. So let’s win that thing! UTV

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