Any Aston Villa fan watching the team play this season will have noticed that there seems to be something missing. Aston Villa, very much like Austin Powers have lost their 'mojo'.
It appears that’s what it is, there is no longer our influential captain spreading passes around the midfield and linking up play in the middle and our central midfield looks pedestrian and devoid of ideas at times.
What a woeful state of affairs we seem to be in, I may switch my allegiance to Ipswich town who are the perfect example of the way not to run a football club.
Ipswich town sacked a manager who missed out on the play offs by one place two seasons running, in fact last season they missed by only a point and Magilton achieved all this on a relative shoe string budget by the standards of other championship clubs.
Well done I hear you say!
Unfortunately the new millionaire owner didn’t quite see it like this. Magilton was sacked, the owner plastered his own name all over the shirts, and installed the inimitable Roy Keane as manager, a manager who inherited a Premier League side after Mick McCarthy and turned them around with relative ease.
Easy when you have the players already there, but more difficult when you have to build a team from scratch as he is finding out. Unfortunately for him he didn’t realise that there was already a pretty decent squad before he released everyone and spent £8million on players who don’t appear to have the quality to succeed immediately at the level required.
The team is in disarray, there is currently no team spirit, the club has spent more on a team that currently sits bottom after chalking up their first win of the season on Saturday than it ever did on the team that almost made the play offs. £8 million spent, one win in fifteen games and I haven’t even started on the abrasive Irishman’s wages.
A more appealing advert for continuity, patience and not getting carried away with the prospect of throwing money at a situation you will not currently find in the football league.
I can’t imagine a ‘Tractor Boys’ fan sneering at a team that despite not setting the world on fire on the pitch consistently picks up points.
Which brings me back to Villa.
Looking at last years results and the corresponding fixtures we have already played this season, we have picked up 18 points compared to last seasons 12 from the same games (I have substituted Newcastle for Wolves and Middlesbrough for Birmingham). Given that last season at the same stage after ten games we only had two more points than we currently have I would say that we a clearly making progress.
The reason I use the word progress is because we have currently got nowhere near the form we were in running into at Christmas last year, yet we are still consistently picking up points.
Has anyone stopped to consider where we may have finished had we managed to gather points in this ugly fashion throughout March, April and May of this year? We would probably have made the Champions League.
If we dare to consider our current form as a slump, who is to say we can’t put an impressive run together if Martin O’Neill can start coaxing better performances from our big players such as Ashley, Carew and Milner. If Sidwell were to suddenly find some form we might look like a quite dangerous side.
We have a team that has a solid defence, in fact it looks as if it could be the meanest defence we have had at Villa Park in many seasons despite the loss of Mellberg and Laursen. I cannot convey the admiration I hold for our manager for digging up the likes of James Collins from the obscurity of West Hams treatment table and taking a chance on Dunne who was cast out at Man City.
Stephen Warnock has also been a revelation so far and this gives us the perfect platform to go and win things this year. You can’t lose if you don’t concede and this is something we did too lightly towards the end of last year. At least we look more capable of closing games out now.
There still remains question marks over who will do the job Barry vacated in midfield and many still resent Heskey’s lack of goals and Carew’s lack of drive, but we are in good shape and as far as I’m concerned can only get better.
Bring on West Ham, bring on three points, bring on fourth place after ten games and bring on the doubters. We have a great club, great team, great manager and great fans.
We are coming for you Rafa, it’s pay back time you ‘tapper upper’ you.