Not an optimist in site, but an optimistic view

You, or most of you, will know from my posts that I am optimistic for the new season. But I should tell you, I am not an optimist. This may be a little far fetched for some but give it a moment.

For you to understand why I am optimistic you need to read on, but you need to do so with an open mind. For a few minutes, put aside your own views and just read my mine, without prejudice. I am sure by the end most will disagree with me, but that is the why the blog is here.

I will say from the start also, that I am under no illusions; we have lost two big players and they need replacing. As the sixth best team in the league we also need to improve to be in with a chance of reaching the dizzy heights of the Champions League. But the new players will come. I have no doubt!

Champions League football is the Holy Grail for any team outside the top four and I believe the desire is greater for us, as we tasted top four football for a few weeks last season and it didn't feel out of place. We were treated to some majestic football last season, no more so than the two Arsenal games, that some might say confirmed suspicions that we are not a million miles off the quality required for top four football, as some had suggested. But we fell away.

The fall from the top four had a devastating impact on the players (especially the younger ones), the fans, the manager and the chairman. The players will have gone away and realised that they want that top four feeling back and will have renewed determination.

This determination will be backed and nurtured by our manager, a manager that feels every tackle, makes every header and joins in with the players celebrating a goal. A manager that cares and wants to see us move up in the league.

The fans also took a little bit of a beating. Some dared to believe that we could defy the odds and storm the pearly gates of the Champions League Castle. It hurt us, which ever way you look at it. It took its toll.

The fallout has seen some fans early season optimism of last year diminish. The world is against us and we have lost direction, we need a new manager, the squad needs overhauling. Our two captains have gone, we are doomed.

As I said before, even I started to believe this as it seemed so conclusive. But it is a lie. I took a step back and started to realise that it isn’t all that bad.

And there was a trigger. It clicked when, back in June, I logged on to a fantasy football site. I started filling out my best team, as you do and found that I ran out of players I could pick from Villa because the limit was four.

I found myself thinking the best right back was Luke Young, the best right mid was Jimmy Milner, left was Ashley Young and striker was Big John Carew. But I wanted Gabby Agbonlahor, Stan the Man Petrov and DJ Stewey in my squad too.

The nucleus of our team is very impressive. I harbour absolutely no doubt that Martin O'Neill will sign at least two top defenders, two top midfielders and a top striker. I will even go as far as to say net spend will be £30mn. plus.

You know why? Because he is a proven top rate manager with huge ambition, massive drive and the kind of enthusiasm that you just cannot contain.

Martin O'Neill is a winner in every sense. He can’t stand the thought of not winning, it drives him crazy. His infectious personality rubs off on Lerner to the point where Lerner shares this excitement that, maybe, just maybe we can challenge and achieve something quite remarkable.

They are both incredibly intelligent professionals. One has a reputation as an outstanding manager the other outstanding with money, but they share a common trait. They are both successful and someone who is successful will never settle for anything less than first place.

So the new signings will come. Not European superstars but top quality, hard working enthusiastic winners. Hailed as saviours by some as the realisation sets in that we are in it to win it.

We can push on and achieve greatness. Martin O'Neill will stand there next to his new captain and new players in the team photo, punctuated by our current star players and you as fans will take stock and realise we have a proper squad brimming with quality.

As supporters, we need to embrace this moment, remember this moment, treasure this moment for this could be our greatest hour. Villa are ambitious again, we are vibrant, enthusiastic, ultra determined. We are marshalled by a leader that can’t stand losing.

And you know what, I will be sitting there with a smile on my face, beer in hand telling everyone that will listen that ‘this year its top four, next year its the league'.