Date: 12th April 2009 at 11:35am
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There is an article in the News of the World today, you can read it in full here: Click Here
It is basically, as far as I can see, a very very silly bit of reporting. It is suggesting that Martin O’Neill will be forced to trim the squad if we don’t finish 4th.

Yup, you read it right, TRIM THE SQUAD. The tiny squad, the squad not big enough to compete on all fronts and the squad that the Villa are so hard at work to build.


Martin O’Neill has already said over the weekend that he hasn’t even talked budgets for next season with Villa owner Randy Lerner so how on earth would the News of the World, or any other paper for that matter, know that we’ve got to trim the squad?! Are we to believe that Villa are in financial trouble? Sorry, we don’t have an open cheque book like Abramovich offered Chelsea when he first came but there is funding there and we don’t carry debt. It is a position many clubs would die to be in, possibly including Manchester United who, if you believe reports today, have £1.1billion of debt to clear in the next decade!

Some clubs could well go bust in these harsh economic times. Villa is not one of them.

The report says Villa will listen to offers for the following, so lets look how likely this is:

Nigel Reo-Coker – possible but only at a decent price. Hokey Cokey hasn’t been happy being moved all over the pitch and especially being made to look a total plonker at right-back, a position he is not best suited.

John Carew – high earner, inconsistent, but on his day a great player. I’ve thought for a while the rift over the Ajax situation could prove to be irepricable but his recent form and the fact he is now being played again might now show that it has been settled. He is a bit high maintenance and he is inconsistent, so I can’t see this player getting his quoted wish of ending his career at Villa, but without a stunning summer and at least two striker purchases, I’m no longer sure – as I was earlier in the season – that he’ll be off.

Nicky Shorey – undecided. He’s been brought in and then humiliated by the manager. Surely he’ll want to prove a point but then we do have Wilfred Bouma returning. Question is after a season out, how quickly will Wilf be back to top form – is top form guaranteed? I’d love to think we’ll see Shorey start every game up to the end of the season and is in the Villa shirt again next season. If I was him I’d not really blame him if he wanted out after some very shoddy treatment though.

Marlon Harewood – MON often talks about wanting quality not quantity. Buying Harewood (Salifou can be chucked in there as well) argues with that point. A stupid purchase in the first place and a player not the grade for Villa. So of course he’ll be sold if they can get some funds for him. Another player that MON has brought in and humiliated by sitting him on the bench and never bringing him on. He is a good Championship grade player and will surely find a club where he can get first team football.

Craig Gardner – unlikely, he won’t be a top earner and is a good all round utility player. Only way he’ll be sold is if we do buy enough quality in order to make his task of breaking into the first team impossible, then he will be moved on for his own good to a club where he will get regular football.

Zat Knight – why would he be sold UNLESS we are bringing in another higher quality defender? Martin Laursen sadly is struggling with injury problems again we need cover. Personally I’d NEVER have brought him in when you think that Gary Cahill was shown the door despite such obvious talent but to be fair to Zat, in the latter half of this season he has shown some good form. Still isn’t the next level though and this is where I argue with MON saying he wants quality not quantity. You have to prove that by actions not words.

He has said he’s not spoken to Randy about budgets but did say that the Villa owner knows it is tough to break the top four adding ‘We know what we’ve got to do, although I agree with him that this is not the time to be putting the club in financial jeopardy for a short-term gain. With a bit of luck, we’ll be in Europe next season and we’ll attract more quality to the club.’

‘People can be disappointed we’re not in the top four, but there’s been a great improvement here. The progress we’re making means the vital next step is to do what the top four have been doing year in, year out. They’re in contention every season. These clubs have experience – and years of it – on us. It’s up to Villa to improve at such a rate that we’re up there a year or two before we should be.’

Suppose we have to wait until the end of the season to see if there is a ‘great improvement’ don’t we? We’ve not improved in the Cups and if we are in the Uefa or whatever it is called next season, after what happened this…..? We’ve finished 6th before under different managers, it is pushing on that has long been our problem!

In the Telegraph and the Birmingham Mail he warned that Villa can’t compete financially with Manchester United… fair enough on that although again, they are in £1.1b of debt, the weight of that has to cause problems at some point! He added,

‘We are in there (the Prem) against Arsenal who house 60,000. Then we are against the other two who have our gates but not only have the experience behind them but a lot of money at it as well. We won`t be able to compete financially. We are trying to run this as a business at this minute. That is difficult especially in this day and age. But I think that is part of the excitement of it all. You have to try and find other ways to compete. You`d maybe hope in time that we can do. I don`t think we`ll ever be up there in finance terms but it doesn`t mean you cannot compete in other ways.’

Funny old game, must admit I’m falling out of love with what used to be a great division. If all clubs can hope to do is finish 4th as ‘success’ (which I understand financially it is) and you have to ‘throw’ cups in order to get it (and then fail anyway), then………….? Hmmm.


10 Replies to “Villa In Mass Summer Clearout? Doubt It!”

  • For our own sake we need to keep everyone except salifou and Marewood. If anyone moans get rid of them too although i hope they dont. Villas a great club to be at right now so if anyone leaves itll be for a top4 club or for they’re own greed. get the cheque book out Randy and replace Barry the second he leaves or we’ll be in the s.h.i.t

  • Having the worst defensive record in the top half of the table we need to strengthen with quality players and if that means offloading some then so be it. We need to concede about 20 goals a season less to start even thinking about challenging the top 4, let alone starting to score more.

  • NOTW post a load of rubbish anyway. Barry is probably gonna go, so we just buy a better player. if any of the others go, bring in soome youth players or buy some quality

  • have to say that I read the article and thought it was total rubbish, or at least from your perspective I hope so. It seems apparentthat instead of trimming, you have to add to your squad to maintain your position, let alone progress.

  • Cant see this, it just doesn’t make sense, it doesn’t add up. We’re attempting to build and strengthen, not trim and return to ground zero. Mr Lerner will be well aware of whats needed after the experiences of this campaign, as obviously will MON. Making cut backs certainly isn’t the way forward. We have to push on, strengthen and develop the squad, improve both the numbers and the quality.

  • So many holes in this report, it wont surely even warrant a denial or response from within Villa Park.

  • jimjim96, you’re living in a fantasy world if you think we’ll buy a player who begins to approach Barry’s quality. I think Fabregas will be as good as Barry in a couple of years time, for example, but even he is a complete fantasy signing. When names like Jenas are bandied around as a potential replacement for Barry, one begins to question one’s sanity (and then the sanity of others!). Players like Defour and Huddlestone have potential, but would be doing extremely well to become 75% of the player Barry is.

  • albarnista, are you GB in disguise or his missus? He’s good and has served the club well for a long period of time but take off the tinted glasses. He has no pace, is one footed and bottles almost every challenge he goes into. If a top four side come in for him and he wants out we should take the cash and grab the opportunity to reshape the midfield to give it some defensive backbone and some pace.

  • I think we are OK for keepers. Maybe Hart for Friedel but I think he will go with what we have. We need cover for right back, playing LY out of position and then having a midfielder or centre half at RB has been the strangest of M’ONS tactical plans this season. I would go with the 4 centra halfs we have providing that Laursen is likely to recover (although I hear from good sources that he may have played his last game for us, or anybody for that matter. Hope my sources are proved wrong). I think Shorey and Bouma are both capable full backs. So IMHO opinion if Laursen regains fitness we are only a right back short at the back. In midfield (assuming IF Barry stays) Barry, Petrov, Sidwell, Gardner and Okey Cokey should be good enough for the positions available providing there is 1 addition of the quality of Petrov or Barry. We are though short of cover for both Milner and Ashley Young. Equally a front 4 of carew, Heskey, Gabby and Delfonsou should be a great provided that we boost that by another one. Personally I would push the boat out for Downing as support for Ashley Young. Not as a replacement but so that they both get equal amount of playing time/rest so as to optimise their performance. Likewise Micah Richards for right back. I would even take a chance on Michael Owen up front and tell him that he will be used sparingly so as to maximise the time he plays and reduce his risk of the injuries that he has suffered over the last 3 years. I am not sure about who we should get assupport/cover for Milner though. We need then to off load Salifou, Harewood and Osbourne. These changes would give us a balanced squad of two players for every position. In the event of 2 players for the one position being injured then simply play one of the youngsters. a squad of 24 players + promising kids should be more than enough for a season inlcluding a European run and should prevent the situation that occured in Moscow. Simple this management lark.

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