Date: 22nd July 2008 at 12:32pm
Written by:

Who is the Clever Strategist then?

Have you noticed how quiet the Barry to Liverpool saga has gone in the last few days? It is beginning to make me wonder if the fat Spaniard really does want Barry at anything other than a knock down price.

I now seriously have my doubts. Yes, if MON had rolled over, and accepted a ridiculously low bid then Benitez would have been delighted and snatched our captain away amid triumphant fanfares. But MON and Randy are made of sterner stuff than previous Villa administrations and are not looking for the quick buck. They have, quite rightly, demanded a fair price for a player who has captained England and was outstanding for most of last season. So the deal has stalled.

We all know that, thanks to their new owners, Liverpool are in hock up to their neck. In addition they are losing touch with the three teams above them in the league and are in serious danger of being replaced in the top four by none other than Aston Villa. So what do you do?

As a senior manager of many years standing I know what I would do in that situation. I would seek to disable my competitors. How? You do it by setting out to cause legitimate and legal disruptions to your
competitor’s efficiency and competence and by trying to poach the key performers from the other team. Big business is cut-throat and so is premiere league football.

That is precisely what Benitez has done. Regardless of the fact that Barry may eventually move to Liverpool Benitez has done his job. He has caused unrest and distress among what was becoming a superb footballing unit. MON has now had to undertake a full rebuilding of the side, because whether he is still a Villa player come the 1st September or not, it is questionable whether Barry will ever perform as well for them again, even if he is let back into the team.

Plus, the rebuilding that is now taking place will mean, realistically, that it will set the team cohesion back at least some months. It will take that time for the new players to gel with the others and make a
really functioning unit.

Nett result? Villa will no longer be the threat that they were becoming towards the end of last season and Liverpool will cling on to fourth place by the skin of their teeth. Fitting two or three new players into an established playing pattern is one thing, changing the way a team operates and settling them down is another problem entirely. That is the problem that MON now has to cope with.

One other thought on this subject, the fact that Barry wants away from Villa has, whether we like it or not, reduced our credibility in the transfer market. Again, who is the winner? Why Benitez and Liverpool of course.

Who is a clever little fat manager then? It stinks, but sadly it’s legitimate business practice!

BY OBEDIAH