Date: 9th July 2007 at 10:37am
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Having a decent manager and a board we all trust is still something of a novelty to a lot of Aston Villa fans – not in a bad way, of course, but it does raise some potential problems.

This time of year is notoriously frustrating, especially in the age of the Internet, as we all list dozens of players we want to see wearing the famous claret and blue next season, and grab any snippets of gossip to use as evidence that said players will be joining.

Not that there is anything wrong with speculation as it makes the summer go faster, and we all get to build little fantasies inside our heads about what names we will see when we grab our programmes on the first day of the season. Personally, I can’t wait and I’m sure every other fan of our great club feels the same.

However, perhaps it’s worth playing a game of Devil’s Advocate just to break things up a bit (incidentally, for those who care, the office of Devil’s Advocate was abolished in 1983 by Pope John Paul II, but it’s still a great phrase).

In the past, while all loyal Aston Villa fans have continued to have faith that things might change and we might return to the big time, where we surely belong, we’ve always had something niggling away in the back of our minds telling us it wouldn’t happen. I won’t mention that ‘something’ in too much detail, as our club has finally moved on from the days of ‘his’ reign.

But was having a ‘safety-net,’ of sorts at least, necessarily a bad thing? We didn’t expect much and, when not much was delivered, we could easily turn around and say ‘Oh well, we knew that would happen because of ‘him’…’.

Now, thanks to the cash of Randy Lerner, the skill and expertise of the board, and the managerial nouse of Martin O’Neill, we can expect far, far more – but our ‘safety-net’ has been cast away. Hopefully it won’t make any difference and we can show that we are once again skilful enough to not fall off the tightrope that is modern Premier League football.

Randy has already been generous, more than generous in fact. As well as his money funding new players, he has refurbished the Holte Hotel to a high standard. While we could argue the finer points of what makes a decent place to drink, there is no doubt our chairman has gone above and beyond the call of duty.

Few of us doubt Martin O’Neill, either, and his managerial career is practically unblemished (though fans of certain Glaswegian clubs would mention throwing leagues away when miles ahead, perhaps).

We also have an overall sense of confidence in the team, in the club, and in how the whole operation is being run. It is impossible to put a price on that sort of feeling, and it could well be worth 12 or more points in a season as the fans transfer their confidence to the players on the pitch.

So it’s all going well, isn’t it? But…

What happens if things start to slip? We’ve got the chairman, the board, the manager, the players (give or take) but we’ve got absolutely nobody to blame. That’s quite scary, because during the years of ‘him’ being in charge, a lot of us thought (and according to some of the posts on this site’s forum, still think) that once ‘he’ was gone, Aston Villa Football Club would be back among the big boys within a few seasons.

If that doesn’t happen – although even at the end of this season we’ll still be a work in progress – will we have to accept that we’ll never get to the top again? I’m sure no real Villa fan would ever accept that, but our lack of safety-net does seem to increase the chances of falling back down to earth with a bump.

Worse case scenario but as I always say: ‘Expect the very worst in life, and then anything else is a bonus!’


3 Replies to “Villa Fans Keeping The Faith?”

  • Sod the safety net, shoot for the stars. I do not want to have excuses. Football is a cut throat world. I have belief in the board (it is not often that we have been able to say that) and if it doesn’t happen on the pitch then it will be easy to identify the weakness. At the moment there are player weaknesses, in that we do not have a big enough squad to cope with a full season and are particularly light in certain areas. Hopefully this is an area that will be rectified. The other weakness is ………… us …… the supporters. Not enough of us are doing our bit to buy enough tickets. A sold out VP means the club become more business, sponsorship, partner and media attractive. These are the real people who provide the cash for Villa to progress. Randy has helped us restore faith and provided a certain amount of funding, but that will not continue indefinitely. The club have done everything possible to increase supporter numbers. However there are only a finite number of organisations who will invest big money in football teams. These companies will look at where they can get the best return. Do they choose to spend their money at the 10 clubs who have sold more S T’s than we have. Or do they choose us? We are competing for the same corporate money (the money that really makes a difference because match revenue will only account for about 12% of turnover next season) as teams who regularly fill their stadiums, many of which are bigger than VP. We have to do our bit ……. and at the moment we are badly lacking in fan numbers, even though it looks like we will have record S T numbers. So personally I do not care about a ‘safety net’ but it would be a bit hypocritical if fans complain about what happens on the pitch, if they are not doing their bit off it.

  • Certainly an interesting few years ahead of us, 4th spot might well be there for the taking with the problems at Arsenal (if Wenger goes especially) but there are several other clubs with money / fans etc who could just as easily take that spot.

  • The safety net has always been and will continue to be – blame the manager/chairman – Thats football and the price every manager pays for not delivering on expectation. So long as the manager has been given a fair go with no interferance from the boadroom then like any business you stand or fall by your results. Thats life and in life there are no guarentees.

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