Re. Aston Villa's demise. As fans we are quick to rush to judgement. It’s all part of the emotion of the game. This clouds sensible comment. Knee jerk reactions call for the removal of chairman, managers and players. This confuses the issue. Vitriol abounds.
What is the issue? What is the problem that confronts our club and prevents us from being successful and results, in recent years, in embarrassment?
The support is huge, the current owners are not short of cash. So, how is it our club is in such an awful position as well?
We were a selling club. Our assets, players with quality who have since proved themselves over and over again with other clubs, were sold on. Think of the impact the club could have made with such players. This has had a huge impact on the development of the club. Now, apparently, we are not a selling club (we will need to be).
The argument is that ‘we were doing a Fulham’ and while I argued it at the start, I can’t help accept it now. We spent a lot of money but spread that money thinly. The evidence is on the field. Compare performances with top sides. Our players have been outclassed. We struggle to deliver a set piece with any accuracy, our attack has been toothless. The amount of passes that go straight to the opposition or directly out of play is embarrassing. Our defence, has been shocking.
So quality of purchases is an issue and so in fact is strategy. In so many games the team sat back and invited attack. It simply became a matter of time before the opposition broke through. We made our opponents look like Brazilian World Cup winners. The inability for a club like ours to purchase quality, proven strikers is a disgrace. Ultimately this has cost us, quite probably a place in the premiership. In recent times we have demonstrated an ability to challenge the best before capitulating. The capitulation has been as inevitable as taxes and death.
A WBA fan said to me we did not deserve to be in the premiership. I disagreed and continue to disagree. We gained the points necessary, won our play off games fair and square, and won. We deserved our place. My opinion in this respect has not changed. However I must concede that our quality and performances do not earn the right to stay in the premiership. We are poor. There have been glimpses of quality and that almost, makes the whole experience more cruel.
I’m just a fan, a passionate fan. We must fight of course but when relegation happens and it seems likely, we must rebuild in a different way. We will sell our assets and the wealth of our owners should make it possible to cherry pick from others. We will need quality : first those who stand strong in the championship; we need proven strikers; creativity in midfield, sharpness in front of goal; a tight and dominant defence.
And then, and here is the rub, we need employ experience and quality. Those who can not only contend with the best but beat them. A championship team cannot compete with a premiership team. This might take some time but it will result in a team that can compete and challenge other premiership teams.
The number of managers who pass through the turnstile is too regular. It makes consistency and sustained improvement difficult. Choose the manager based on record and then support him by purchasing quality according to the vision he described at interview.
The future is bleak; it need not be.
Paul Smythe, Bilston
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