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Author Topic: Managing Christmas  (Read 2136 times)

Offline dave.woodhall

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Managing Christmas
« on: December 30, 2020, 09:43:19 PM »
Watching the Chelsea match on TV was a strange experience because it did not look like Villa. Things were not helped by the minute size of the Hesgoal screen but Chelsea seemed to be playing some very confident, energetic outfit in white who could spray it about a bit. Not Villa, surely? But, hey, this is the new Aston Villa, the like of which we have rarely seen in my lifetime.

The team, quite frankly, looked as if they expected to win; take away a coat of white paint and they probably would have done. They were certainly not overawed by competing against big money players with long foreign names. Given that the game’s outstanding player John McGinn cost us less than the week’s roubles each of Chelsea’s players would be picking up puts things into some sort of context.

Not that it was a one-man show as we had that rare occurrence of all eleven putting in a shift of hard graft and skill. The commentary drew attention to our athleticism; it was music to my ears as for years I have bemoaned the fact that our players have generally looked physically undercooked, especially last season when we joined the big boys’ league. That we can achieve the high press and get back to defend in numbers and keep it up for the duration plainly rattled Chelsea. Our Frank’s facial expressions at times replicated the hapless bemusement we saw from Woy only two days before. We could have won it, they could have won it, but either way no complaints; for us it was another step on the ladder, for them it was a slippy foot and we are above them in the league, so there.

You cannot praise our owners enough. We knew they were shrewd businessmen and they endeared themselves to me from the off by not claiming some sort of life-long affinity with the club. No, they were here for the money, but they knew we were a long way from the the untold riches the game had to offer at top level. With a great stadium and a huge fan base they clearly sensed the potential and that meant a considerable immediate and long-term investment.

Not that folk didn’t chuckle, the divisions being littered with clubs whose sugar daddies quickly lost interest when they didn’t get into Europe within two seasons. In truth, having absentee owners lacking any background in the sport can look to be a recipe for disaster. The hardest bit is for your saviours to be patient in seeing the ‘the project’ through while they wait for the big returns to roll in.

I am now a little bit more certain that they will get there. They have employed people who understand the industry and its markets and given them the leeway to get on with the job within budget. They have a CEO who knows his way around the jungle and a savvy Director of Football to handle player recruitment plus a senior team coach and head of youth development whose visions fit the model of acquiring and developing talent at all levels. It is to Dean Smith’s everlasting credit that he has been able to dovetail his philosophies with what the suits are looking for. He has not held onto his job just because he is local.

Contrast Lerner, also absentee and without a background in football, who allowed a plausible but control-freak and ultimately deluded team manager, loosely supervised by a rookie CEO who knew even less than his boss about the game, to decide policy on spending and contracts. Martin may have looked like an American college professor, but though he talked a good game he did not have any background in business planning or economics. With a model of bad practice which would have had the old 1960’s board purring with admiration he moved our best talent out to our immediate competitors and mortgaged the club into the next decade by leaving us with a dressing room of ageing, depreciating playing assets. Then he walked out.

While I am having my regular pop at Martin did you wonder how we would have approached the second half of the Palace game and the last twenty minutes against Chelsea if Brucie had been in charge? Yes, I can picture Palace’s winning goal going in after 45 minutes of panic defence and then four minutes of added time agony as well as you can. I notice our man has recently been saying that many in Newcastle "never wanted me in the first place". Sound familiar? Something afoot there, methinks. Perhaps he will be back at Palace soon, or is there something their fans will never forgive him for?

"Absentee owner, out of depth CEO, dinosaur manager, overpaid players who can’t be arsed, only one shot in the game, referees with a downer on us, we will go down". It could have been a review of B6 almost anytime circa 2011-17 but, no, it is a paraphrase of what I read on the Albion blogs after you know what. Within thirty minutes of the final whistle there was even a thread headed "Allardyce Out". And they laughed at us last year.

I noticed that pre-match our coaching staff appeared genuinely pleased to see Big Sam on the touchline. After ten minutes we all knew why. Was it only last Christmas that more than one or two of our own bloggers were arguing for Sam to come in and dig us out of a hole?

One of the more interesting things to have come from our current renaissance is a re-appraisal of our 2019 summer transfers. Folk history would have it as an absolute truth that we panicked and overspent on rubbish and, to be fair, up to a point a great many of us subscribed to that. Big lesson learned. As with a manager, you can not necessarily expect brilliance and consistency all at once, especially when everyone is moving into Europe’s strongest league for the first time. I always thought that Konsa would come good but the improvements we have witnessed in Luiz, Trezeguet, Hause and Targett, have been beyond imagination. The jury is still out on Marv, Wes and that mysterious Belgian centre-back that used to play, but we will see.

To everyone’s satisfaction we appeared to up our recruitment game this summer gone. No turkeys and a lot of genuine talent, all of it still ripe for development. Players who had been drifting have also read the tea leaves. Two weeks ago, by popular forum opinion, our bench was poor and our wingers hopeless: Hey, presto…we suddenly have the most feared wide raiders in the league and real depth at centre-back. You will also have noted the way Ramsey is being bedded in. No hype, just common sense.

It is all certainly a welcome change from the quick-fix days of loan signings and ageing players whose CVs had more energy than their legs. Please God that good sense and ambition follows us into the January window. As I have said before, there has not been a better time to persuade quality to join the party.

All good teams, however talented, need a beating heart, that someone whose presence in the dressing room alone lifts spirits and confidence and who, frankly, you are afraid to look in the eye if you have played badly. With Ron Saunders’ sides it was Dennis Mortimer assisted, you imagine, by a dressing room alpha male enforcer, quite possibly Peter Withe. Now it is Jack with heavyweight vocal support from Mings and McGinn, though I suspect Martinez is making his mark as an opinion leader.

Talking of Martinez, I believe he is the best goalie we have had in my time, and in all probability since Sam Hardy. It is not just his positioning and handling but the cool, calm way he commands the penalty area with no bawling or shouting at his defenders (compare Schmeichel Sr). For a new boy to exert that degree of control over Tyrone’s ‘manor’ takes some bottle and it is a measure of how impressive the players have found him. What on earth was Arteta playing at?

Online reaction from fans of our recent opponents has been interesting. The Palace faithful simply shrugged and wondered when their gaffer would be gone. Poor old Woy really looked his age in the dugout. I have a lot of time for Hodgson, he got the England job a bit too late in his career but otherwise has spent almost fifty years developing the game and its players here and on the continent. I doubt if there is another Englishman living who has done more for the game and if things are about to end I hope it is him and not the Palace board who makes the decision.

The Albion lot were predictably graceless towards everyone including their own players. No credit given to us, you will not be surprised to learn, and plenty of comment laced with the kind of ‘truths’ Donald Trump might support including that Livermore never touched Jack. I suppose no-one ever touched Alex Cropley, either. And Jay Rodriguez scored all his goals with diving headers.

All of this was in stark contrast to the reaction of the Wolves fans to our smash and grab at Molineux. Apart from the obligatory rubbish aimed at Jack they there was none of the ‘lucky Villa’ stuff we might normally have expected. To an extent we got off their hook because most of the bile was aimed, as is only proper, at Mike Dean but the general feeling was that they were not surprised to be beaten and did not appear to take it particularly badly. Which is not like them. Few appear to be in doubt about the garden path up which their continental agent is trotting with £65 million shelled out on a teenage striker who looks to be only marginally of academy ability and a ropy defender. I’ll have 10% of that any day.

And I gather that Chelsea did not win because of an alleged foul by Jack. Quick, catch hold of that straw floating by. For my part, I can confidently say We Belong and can now prove it in a testing January against several of the other clubs competing at our level. Plus a decent home draw in the cup. Bring it on.

Colin Brown
« Last Edit: January 02, 2021, 01:44:28 AM by dave.woodhall »

Offline West Derby Villan

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Re: Managing Christmas
« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2020, 10:06:02 PM »
Brilliant read, wow, exciting times

Offline Morleys left boot

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Re: Managing Christmas
« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2020, 10:12:46 PM »
Great read that Dave !

Offline dave.woodhall

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Re: Managing Christmas
« Reply #3 on: December 30, 2020, 10:15:26 PM »
Sorry, I forgot to add the writer's name.


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Re: Managing Christmas
« Reply #4 on: December 30, 2020, 10:18:33 PM »
Things are looking up !

Offline Louzie0

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Re: Managing Christmas
« Reply #5 on: December 30, 2020, 10:32:53 PM »
I enjoyed reading this.
Really hope we are able to sustain this improvement and that Deano and his team get recognised for the work they have done with the squad.

Offline Nunkin1965

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Re: Managing Christmas
« Reply #6 on: December 30, 2020, 10:33:06 PM »
Great piece which captures the excitement around our progress as a club right in the mix now.

Offline JD

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Re: Managing Christmas
« Reply #7 on: December 30, 2020, 11:02:53 PM »
Another great read.

Online algy

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Re: Managing Christmas
« Reply #8 on: December 30, 2020, 11:04:50 PM »
Excellent read.

Offline stevo_st

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Re: Managing Christmas
« Reply #9 on: December 31, 2020, 09:11:04 AM »
Thanks Colin

Offline Andy_Lochhead_in_the_air

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Re: Managing Christmas
« Reply #10 on: December 31, 2020, 09:25:05 AM »
Things were not helped by the minute size of the Hesgoal screen

H & V appear to be condoning the modern habit of fans to watch games on illegal feeds. I'm appalled and think it is morally reprehensible that people do this.

If you click the two arrows in the bottom right corner of the small screen to the right of the volume it will go full screen. So I'm told.

Offline littleoldme

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Re: Managing Christmas
« Reply #11 on: December 31, 2020, 11:32:52 AM »
I'm not a religious man, of any persuasion, but it certainly feel's as though we are born again, long may it continue.

Offline Hookeysmith

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Re: Managing Christmas
« Reply #12 on: December 31, 2020, 03:23:09 PM »
Nice to see my feelings put eloquently into words.

Thanks Colin.  I really do think we are on the cusp of something
Beating the red bastards tomorrow will be the icing on the cake for me. Then make a significant signing from a position of strengh to finish this shit year off.


Offline robbo1874

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Re: Managing Christmas
« Reply #13 on: January 01, 2021, 04:54:33 AM »
Going for a hard fought 2-1. We’re on fire, never a better time to face them

Offline Villan For Life

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Re: Managing Christmas
« Reply #14 on: January 01, 2021, 07:57:17 AM »
Another great read, I’m really enjoying all of these fanzine articles. Please keep them coming.


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