Date: 21st June 2009 at 10:23am
Written by:

It seems to me that football fans like things to be very black and white (no, nothing to do with Newcastle), almost the archetypal good vs evil depicted by religions throughout history. By the very nature of our status as football fans we are tribal and the acts of labeling, stereo-typing and prejudice are mechanisms that help us to function and even survive.

There are some that are not able, apparently, to disconnect these mechanisms. I’m tired of being labeled anti-MON or an MON hater. Personally I think he seems like a nice guy but this has absolutely no relevance to his status as the manager of Aston Villa Football Club.

I am a fan of Aston Villa not of any one individual, as Fear likes to point out, players, managers and even owners/chairmen come and go, we remain!

I was delighted when we got MON as manager of our great club and very pleased that he was able to stabilize the club so quickly and even impressed with his consolidation leading to our 6th place finish last year. This last season was his opportunity to push on and show that he was more than a man capable of creating a team that was hard to beat (remember Villa never beat an MON lead Leicester City).

He had built a strong foundation and set the scene to bring in the right players and push on. Not too many of us expected to break the top 4 but many were hopeful of displacing Everton, what we all expected was a consolidation of our top 6 status and progression in terms of the squad and playing style. Most are realistic enough to know that to displace any of the top 4 (or even 5) would take more than just a flash in the pan but in fact a club looking like it’s going places in order to attract even more top players, those on the fringes of playing in the CL but perhaps looking to get more 1st team football early in their career.

Instead we got mainly older players and/or from teams below us. Players who can do a job for us but will not help us to move on in anyway other than by grimly hanging on to our top 6 status. Credit where credit is due, MON created a buzz about the club which drove us from season’s opening to overachieve until just after new year. I say overachieve because, if you look at our playing style and the playing staff used, most of our success was down to us outworking our opponents rather than outplaying them. Our work ethic and speedy players made up for any lack of craft, guile and tactics but sadly, as history confirms, this could not last. Players tired, became injured and received inevitable bans which halted our momentum and made many, including the players (I believe) start to lose faith.

Then came Moscow, the ultimate destroyer of any momentum and faith for many. Later in the season it looked like MON became desperate, trying questionable substitutions and even more questionable, bizarre even, tactical positioning which at one point left Milner as right back and Nigel Reo Coker as left back, apparently hoping to stumble upon some magic formula that would result in him being hailed as some sort of misunderstood genius, the mad professor type. I believe he was becoming weary of tarnishing his reputation as a tactical genius and imho he only made things worse but that is the risk when accused of having no plan B, especially as the accusations appear to be correct.

I would argue that Aston Villa’s limited success, this last season, was due to MON’s ability to build up the player’s belief and use this fact to motivate them to achieve at a level that they could not maintain for an entire season. As I said earlier, credit where it is due, MON got the players playing at a level beyond themselves for over half a season but I doubt he will be able to do this again as the players have seen what he can do and will see his limitations, limiting their faith in him and thus themselves, as a team if not as individuals.

My point? I too can see what MON has achieved and I do believe that he was the right man for the club when he came in. His downfall has been his success, in that he has achieved his limitations, imho, in a much shorter period of time than anyone could have expected or even hoped for.

I’m not anti-MON, I’m pro Villa and I believe that it’s time for both Aston Villa and MON to move on. Aston Villa are ready to move on to the next stage of development thanks to MON. MON needs to move on while his reputation is still relatively in tact.


27 Replies to “Villa Fan Says No Black & White In Footie”

  • I’d like MON to stay for at least 2 or 3 more seasons. Unless you have an insanely rich arab backing you, the premier league is a marathon, not a sprint. Look at Newcastle and Leeds sacking managers of clubs after unrealistic expectations, (where are they now). We need managerial consistency and very few other managers in the Prem have as much respect from peers and players alike as MON. Let’s give the man the time that PL managers should expect, not what people demanding instant success do. To mention that MON isn’t TRYING to get the players in to take is to the next level is quite frankly laughable.

  • Not that i’m actually quoting you on that last sentence of mine, I just think eventually MON will get it right and will finally get the players that are going to take us forward.

  • A thought; 1989-90 (i think possibley 90-91) Villa 3 Man U 0. United fans all demanding Ferguson’s head on a spit(Tony Daley had sat Clayton Blackmore on his arse all game! Brilliant day) United go on to win FA Cup, the rest is history. Speaking of History, Ron Saunders success = experience + potential, Graham Taylor = experience + potential, Big Ron = experience + potential. Until we break into the top 4 consistently, that’s the future. Question is how much time do we give MON. If we can see the cracks, surely he can. Lets see what type of filler he uses and how he applies it. Get behind the team and be patient I say. Starting again will achieve nothing. How great is MON pulling power and tactical know how? We’re about to find out. The history of claret and blue has always been this way since I became a fan in 1970’s. Only a consistent period of success will change it. Keep believing!

  • I have to say i find the qoute: “MON needs to move on while his reputation is still relatively in tact” quite staggering. Are you seriously suggesting that MON should “do one”? Other managers, at Villa, may have got higher finishes than ONeil, but he is still in the building stage and when the team gets it right they are as good a side to watch as anything else the premiership has to offer. Unless you have some managerial mastermind up your sleeve i think you should be grateful for the manager that we have

  • I’d like to echo part of your sentiments, VotN – I totally agree that football is (or should be) all shades of grey. There are no absolutes. And my position is also like yours: I’m not a MON-lover (!!) and nor do I think MON is the Messiah (I’m not even sure the Messiah is the Messiah!), but from then on we differ somewhat. I believe, like a lot of other people, that consistency is the key to long-term success. Not short-term fixes or fu**ing up your salary structure for the sake of expediency, but doing things like the (old) Liverpool used to. Quietly. In the background. No player bigger than the club. Etc. One thing especially strikes the football fan who looks at the history of the game: not many managers come into a club, achieve instant success, and then go on to build long-term success too. Most legendary managers (SAF, for instance, but he’s only one) have built slowly over an extended period, and have been given time by their board. Do I think MON can move us on to the next level? I’ve no idea. Nobody can tell that in advance. Do I think he deserves what you’re throwing at him? I don’t think so. Compare MON and Moyes last season. Their teams ended up 1 point apart. They had some horrible injuries, but so did we (i.e. Freddie and Laursen). Moyes is being feted by their fans simply because they ended up on a high, rather than starting on one, while MON is being told he should maybe walk. Your opinion is one I respect and I see your arguments, but I have to say I don’t agree this time around.

  • I agree with a lot of your sentiments there BtB. The biggest issue I have with MON is something beyond his control, it’s his age. If I could see the possibility of him being at VP in 10 years time, having built a legacy, I’d be more inclined to give him more time. As it is he’s 57 years old and few managers carry on beyond 60. If we don’t believe he can deliver the clubs potential in that time surely we should say thanks for a job well don, for stabilizing and helping our club regain respectability and move on to a younger man who CAN give us the stability that we crave. Ferguson was 45 when he took over at MUTD having already achieved success at Aberdeen. When the board decided to persevere with him they did it in the knowledge that if he brought success to the club he would be around to consolidate and build on it, MON won’t be. David Moyes is still only 46 and has been at Everton for 7 years already, having started his managerial career at Preston some 4 years earlier. Moyes is giving Everton the stability they need, where is the stability we crave going to come from when in 3 years MON will, quite probably be the oldest managers in the PL, certainly one of the oldest. Nothing against the man personally, I just can’t see how he can be expected to give us this stability so many are calling for.

  • For a 57 year old he still has the hunger and more energy (especially on the touchline) than most players!!! I do agree however that maybe his time has passed. New techniques and tactics etc are being used all the time and unless he’s capable of keeping up with them, he will be left behind. Think this season will be his last unless, as an old dog, he can learn new tricks (preferably starting with “how to win a game in March!!!”)

  • A few recent premiership managers under 50 odd:
    O’Leary Sacked
    Hughes-Heaven help us
    Mourinho-No chance
    Moyes-No chance
    Benitez-No chance
    A few older managers:
    Wenger – 59
    Ferguson – 69
    Redknapp – 62
    These “I’m only trying to be reasonable” and “I just want the best for Villa” arguments really get on my t*ts. Which of these “stunningly successful” young managers would you install at VP? You say that you are a supporter. The clue is in the name. Your role, and mine, is to support, not to sit in your ivory tower criticising every move the manager makes. Your article purports to be thoughtful and reflective but in fact it is just full of prejudice and bigotry. Clear off and leave this site for real supporters.

  • VOTN – I am not going to agree or disagree with this article but I do have a two issues with people saying O’Neill should leave Villa as you have not addressed either. It is very hard to take any article on this topic unless both issues are addressed. Firstly, from day 1 the words ‘five year plan’ have been mentioned by Randy, MON, the fans etc. etc.. Why does O’Neill not deserve to see this out – you do hover around the point talking about tactics, lack of invention etc. but none of these ‘mistakes’ are any more than other managers make throughout the season (bar the Moscow game). Secondly, at not one point do you suggest a manager who could do a better job. In my opinion – YES O’Neill has made mistakes BUT there is no-one out there who is likely to take us to where we want to be at the moment. Who do you think is??

  • I’ll happily answer those points Deano. 1.The General has denied that there ever was a 5 year plan, although it has been said by others (I don’t recall who) that the 5 year plan was a business plan involving all the off field affairs and had nothing to do with league placings etc. 2.It’s not my job to suggest alternatives, I can if you like but I’m sure opinions would be just a split as they are on MON. I have made suggestions on the forum and I think it’s best to leave them there where they can be debated properly.

  • I dont really use the forum VOTN but am generally interested in who we reckon should be next boss. It is something I worry about because I am such a fan of the current management structure but have always been concerned with what next?? When O’Neill goes so do a lot of the coaches, physios etc etc so I would love O’Neill to ‘groom’ someone to eventually take over. I would love to hear a few suggestions for next boss, I really dont know who it would be??

  • Id love to see O’neil finish his career with Villa, but i think it is a given that he will probably be the next England manager if Capello doesnt end well. I agree with Deano tho, id like to see a number 2 at villa for O’neill to groom. U never know, kevin mcdonald might step up to the plate in the future, he is doing wonders with the reserves/academy etc. But im pro O’neill and thinks how could any1 who has seen our progress say that his time is up. He deserves our support and im giving it to him. If our season ended on a high like Evertons, this discussion wouldnt be happening.

  • As you say, it is all about opinions. However you show your displeasure at buying players who are older or who are from below us in the league. I think it is this very argument imho that shows your lack of judgement. Like all managers his signings have been hit and miss. However the core of Englishmen at the club shows good strategic planning considering the value of English players will soar astronomically if/when the 6+5 rule is introduced. But to critisize him for not buying players from the top 4 is ridiculous. It is pointless explaining the reasons why, because if you can’t understand why, then you never will. However your overall argument is logically put together. The downside is that most succesful clubs have a togetherness of fans, players and management. A soon as there is an argument between fans of ‘should he stay or should he go’ then we all lose. Is that what you want?? You sound like a fan stuck in the Ellis years. Surely the fact that the 4 of the five teams above us have stuck by their managers and have continuity, should strike a chord. There isn’t a club below us in the league (apart from Stoke possibly, I am unsure of how long Pulis has been there) whose manager has been in charge longer than M’ON. The facts are fairly simple, swop and change your manager and you are likely to do a Charlton, Norwich, Leeds, Newcastle, Southampton. If you have somebody who is respected throughout the game, keep him at all costs. I suppose the fact that he has won more trophies in England than any other manager outside the top 4 should also be a reasonable indication of his quality. And as for last season. The last 3 months were disappointing, the first 7 months were brilliant. We finished up with more points than the previous season despite playing 14 extra games. It is progress. It might be not what you want. And maybe there is an element of madness. But every season we have progressed and you want to change???? Whilst seeing the logic of your points, I actually think you are as mad as a box of frogs.

  • Excellent article and brings up many points currently being discussed by many Villa fans,IMO he has this summer to get 4 players and if he doesn`t we`ll struggle.

  • Honestly, no one has yet named a manger yet!! Try completing this sentance: “I think that Villa would be much better in the next 2 seasons if they hired __________, rather than let O’Neill complete the 5 year plan. I think ________ would be very likely to join us and of course the likes of Ashley Young, John Carew etc. will not get itchy feet and want to move somewhere else because they will be just as happy with ________ as they were with O’Neill. Overall, we will be in the top 4 in a few years with _________ at the healm” TRUST ME – WE ARE AVFC WE HAVE O’NEILL – IT DOES NOT GET BETTER THAN THAT!!!!! Mourinho, Sir Alex etc. will not be interested yet.

  • five year plan was the initial business plan being actioned by the likes of Richard FitzGerald. Not a managers five year plan.

    I think this debate will gather pace IF we are in similar situation next summer, MON will have at least this season (including htis summer transfer window which could prove crucial to his and our short / medium term futures.

    I would say within the argument, those saying MON isn’t up to it obviously have the right to that opinion but aren’t really expected to come up with a list of alternatives surely? That would have to be done via applications and proper research/headhunting as/and or when the situation arose. No one can possible know who is available at the time.

  • Aspinall, none of the above have won as many trophies in England as M’ON. Redknapp has relegated clubs and Moyes has had two relegation scraps with Bluescouse (one the year after qualifying for the Champions League). Bilic has no record whatsoever. Redknapp, along with Bond and Allardyce refused to sue the BBC after they alleged he took bungs. That in itself tells you a story. The fact that that is the limit of your replacements just proves that we need to maintain the status quo. But your replacements have probably give us all a good laugh. I can see the headline now. M’ON sensationally sacked by Lerner as Villa go for big name. Randy says Hodgson and Bilic are in the frame. I am sure the Holte end would agree with that. NOT!

  • Spot on voiceoftheholte, ASPINALL, hand on heart would you take ANY of those you mentioned. From that list Moyes and Redknapp would NOT go to Villa full stop. Redknapp happy in a ‘dream’ job and Moyes will wait for Man Utd. I understand your point Fear, but I am a positive supporter (possibly bias as an Ulsterman) and am delighted O’Neill is our manager. Few managers in Europe are better in my opinion. Sure he is not perfect but no manager is. My point is that anyone who draws the conclusion that O’Neill should leave (now or next year) should have some idea of WHAT they want to see. Same with players – I may not think Friedel is an awesome keeper but unless I can think of one better, I am happy with Friedel to be our number one for a few years yet. At this moment in time O’Neill is the best man for the job!!

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