Date: 20th May 2008 at 3:49pm
Written by:

It is my belief that this summer poor Mr O’Neill is going to be hounded, barracked and slated by quite a few Villa fans. Significant numbers of people couldn’t contain or control themselves when we signed Zat Knight and in particular Marlon Harewood – accusing Mr O’Neill of undershooting the expectations of the club.

I’m one of the O’Neill fans, and have written about this before, but when I try to express my belief that he has a plan and we should trust him, I sound well….less than convincing. So, the only way I can relate to Mr O’Neills task this summer is through playing Football Manager. [Bear with me on this] I have a process I go through regularly in that game to satisfy myself that I have depth in the squad. It’s pretty simple really, I write down the major positions, and who can play in them. If someone plays two positions, I call them a ½ player for each position. If someone doesn’t normally play, but might get a few chances a season I call them an (R). Similarly with youth players, I call them an (R) too.

So what do we have at the Villa then? This would be how I assess the current squad – you can argue it if you like, but this is my assessment.

GK
(R) Taylor


LB
Bouma
(R)O’Halloran (Out until Feb?)


CB
Laursen
Davies
Knight


RB
½ Gardner


LW
Young
½ Maloney

CM
Barry
½ Maloney
½ Petrov
Reo-Coker
½ Gardner
(R)Osbourne
(R)Salifou
(R)Steiber


RW
(R)Routledge
½ Petrov
½ Gabby


FWD
Harewood
Carew
½ Gabby
(R)Delfouneso

This is how I’ve seen the team this season.


Let’s add it up, and I’ll also put down what I’d personally like for each position, and how I would breakdown the composition (ie in Centre Back, I’d like 3 big name first teamers and 2 reservers)

Total [I`d Like] plus breakdown

GK 1R [3] 1 + 2R
LB 1 + 1R [2½] 1 + 1R + ½
CB 3 [5] 3 + 2R
RB ½ [2½] 1 + 1R + ½
LW 1½ [2½] 1 + 1R + ½
CM 4 + 3R [5] 3 + 2R
RW 1 + 1R [2½] 1 + 1R + ½
FWD 2½ + 1R [4] 3 + 1R


I’ve written down what I’d consider to be a good squad – it’s 27 players in fact. There’s enough competition for places without things getting out of hand. So where are we short?


GK 1 + 1R
LB ½
CB 2R
RB 1 + 1R
LW 1R
CM
RW ½
FWD ½


So, if I was made boss tomorrow, I’d go looking for the following regular big name players

1x right back
1 x keeper
1 x right winger

The following backup/young players who are prepared to bench warm
2 x centre backs
1 x right back
1 x left winger
1 x keeper

The following utility players would be on my horizon though not top priority
1 x RW/FWD
1 x LB / CB


Now, here’s the thing.

That all assumes I’m not looking oust any of the current first teamers. This would give me the support function necessary for the squad to function within reasonable injury/suspension criteria.

For sure Mr O’Neill will be looking to improve the first 11 too, but he’s also sure to go buy less exciting players for the squad.

And I for one think it’ll be a good thing.