It’s the most wonderful time of the year! According to Andy Williams at least. For me I find it a little irritating. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no Scrooge, I love the festive season as much as the next man. But I work in the centre of town, and working in the centre of a town means you're near shops.
And being near shops at Christmas time means you’re near hordes of crazed shoppers. I hate shopping at the best of time. I treat shopping a bit like I treat the missus, a quick in and out and then generally a nap to follow.
Christmas shopping can be particularly trying. I don’t know if any of you lot have ever visited the Bullring shopping centre on a busy day but you have to queue just to use the escalator. I mean – what’s that all about?!
Then there’s always that one middle-aged woman who gets to the top and takes a moment to consider which way she wants to head. Meanwhile there’s a 50 person pile-up on the escalator behind her - genius.
Anywho, I digress. We’ve reached that time of year when kids start preparing their Christmas letters for Santa. It must also be about now that football managers start giving serious thought to their January wish list. And at Aston Villa Football Club the New Year couldn’t come soon enough.
In today’s cut throat world of modern management I think it’s a bit harsh to judge a manager until he’s had a least one transfer window to shape the side as he sees fit. Ideally they’d get the summer window; Mr Houllier is going to have to make do with the January sales.
I’ve perhaps made it sound like we’re in desperation; which isn’t necessarily the case, but we can’t ignore the fact that we’re rather close to the relegation zone at present. Thankfully I think there’s a handful of sides that are somewhat worse off than ourselves and whilst we might momentarily flirt near the bottom a couple of times this season, I don’t think we’re going to have too much of a fright.
A lump of coal and an orange
The season has been a mixed bag so far, I can’t be bothered to list all the ups and downs but it’s been a bit of a roller-coaster. Emerging from the chaos is a vibrant, talented, youthful set of players. The new contracts for these Academy produced lads suggests that they may be the core of our side for the foreseeable future. Great news if you ask me.
However, we can’t ignore the fact that we need new blood to help them along the way. If rumours in the press are to be believed it sounds as though Lerner might provide Houllier with some financial backing. So the all-important questions are; what items does he need, where does he shop and what does he sell?
For me there is one main priority – a defensive midfielder. The club hasn’t had a (good) specialist defensive midfielder for too long. O’Neill tried to turn Petrov into a defensive midfielder. It didn’t work. We could use Reo-Coker. I know he divides opinion on this blog, but personally I think he’s not good enough. Sidwell is drivel. Hogg is learning. Osbourne is Osbourne. Delph has knee-knack. And even our final throw of the dice, Salifou, is going to get nicked for lumping a journo. Sad times.
So if I were Monsieur Houllier I’d be scouring the world (yes Mr O’Neill, the world, not just the UK) for a top quality defensive midfielder. I quite liked the Jean Makoun rumours that were circulating a couple of weeks back. But I’m willing to listen to other suggestions.
Oh and if Santa is feeling particularly generous, a goal scorer would be lovely too. Oh and a left back. And maybe one of those goalkeeper thingees too. But I’d settle for a top quality defensive midfielder for now.