The Road To Nowhere?
A discussion in the forums got me thinking about where we now find ourselves, and the impact on our long-term prospects of getting mired in the Championship over the next few seasons. Say, for argument’s sake, we get promoted and manage to establish ourselves back in the Premier League? Will merely surviving, trying to become the ‘best of the rest’ and the occasional cup run be acceptable? Will we as fans be happy to settle for that, year after year?
The reality is that the Premier League is at best a four- maybe five-horse race. Chelsea, the Manchester clubs, Arsenal and Liverpool are the perennial front-runners, with Spurs now muscling in on the act. Leicester last season was a complete freak, and as much down to the ‘Sky clubs’ having very inconsistent seasons as Leicester pulling off unlikely win after unlikely win. Fair play to the Foxes, but this season finds them settling at somewhere near their true level.
Order has been restored this season, and although Spurs have crashed the party in the last couple of years, it’s still the big ‘5’ of United, City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool fighting for the title and European places. Seriously wealthy owners, the Champions League riches and huge stadia (with Chelsea and Spurs on the way) have seen to it that the gap gets wider and wider with each passing season.
Everton (who are also heading for a huge new stadium) are just about hanging on to the coat tails of 6th placed United, but the 16 (SIXTEEN!!) point gap (as it stands) to West Bromwich Albion tells us all we need to know. The best we can hope for on getting back up is to clamber above West Brom and try and become the best of the rest.
I’m not saying, by the way, we should look to expand Villa Park (we can barely fill it as it is) but the point is these clubs are taking advantage of the financial riches available and building on them. In the cases of the Champions League regulars, they are in a different stratosphere.
I’m also not saying we should settle for being the big fish in the small pond of the Championship, but the reality is we have fallen behind over the past decade (and before that, in the last throes of Deadly’s reign) to a point where we won’t be catching up any time soon, despite what Dr Tony might be promising. Let’s be honest, in terms of relevance, we haven’t been anywhere near the top table for the best part of 100 years. The odd cup win, one League title since 1910 and a European Cup have merely kept the flame flickering, hardly burning bright.
To be honest, I don’t really recognise football anymore in terms of my connection to it, to the clubs or to the players. Millionaires more interested in their new cars or their new ‘cribs’ just doesn’t resonate with me. All I really want, and seek, from the game is to watch some decent football, winning matches with a bit of flair and entertainment value, and spending time with family and friends watching and engaging.
Pessimistic maybe, realistic probably and depressing definitely. Oh well, onwards and upwards. Up the Villa.