A defining summer for Randy Lerner and possibly Ashley Young

By the time I publish this post you won't be able to comment on the competition post I did yesterday about net spend on transfers this summer, but there have been a number of good guesses. Some I think are fairly optimistic, especially after what the owner has told us, but there is no harm in having hope.

I asked the question, not only because I thought it a good one, but because having a discussion on this will sort of put things into perspective when some start asking for O'Neill to be replaced and I start asking Lerner to start looking for investment.

For the record, I'm going to pick £7.2mn. because that was what we actually spent in the 1999/2000 season and when you factor in that in the 1997/98 season we had a higher net spend on transfers than we did in 2007/08, I don't think it unreasonable.

But this isn't a negative post, it is one of renewed optimism in Randy Lerner and I don't want to see him go. I think all I want him to do is search out investment.

There is talk this morning of Ashley Young and he is 'believed to be concerned that the club will struggle' to replace Barry and that Chelsea and Real Madrid are circling. No, we don't have quotes and yes, it was in the Mirror.

If Ashley Young is sold, regardless of the letter he writes to us and publishes in the paper and regardless of what the club tell us, it will be because he doesn't believe it is possible to break into the top four with Aston Villa. If Ashley Young is allowed to leave then the attention will turn fully on Lerner and his ambition.

I'm not knocking Lerner because how he has got people feeling about the club again is wonderful and the way he has looked to our history to develop certain aspects of the club is fantastic. But it has just dawned on me, much like it did with David O'Leary; it isn't his fault we're not spending.

It isn't his fault that he doesn't have the money to make the necessary investments to challenge for a top four place. He has tried, but in reality we could have all told him, that a net spend of £65mn. on players over three seasons, wasn't going to be enough to get top four football.

Now, the hype that surrounded Lerner was very much created and when you look back there is nothing from him, just suggestion and PR from the club and representatives, so he has done nothing directly wrong. However, some are now questioning it. I read something on VillaTalk the other day that someone wasn't going to renew their season ticket and they were likening our January this year to a Doug Ellis January. That isn't the whole story, he did renew, but the whole story is a good read.

They're not wrong about last January though, it was frustrating and it's also worth noting that it wasn't just last January, it was the January before too. However, the author does go on to suggest if is all down to O'Neill to improve the team, although I think O'Neill will get what he can get with the funds provided and for that, I don't think he can be blamed.

What I'm actually hoping for is that what Lerner said recently about not spending as much this summer as last is Doug'enomics, because we've just seen what spending £45mn. gets you in this league and my biggest fear is that Gareth Barry was right and Manchester City finish above us, which would be the biggest kick in the teeth.

In fact, I'm going to say that it was just all bluster and that we are going to go out this summer and bring in numbers and real quality. I have faith it will happen. It has to happen.

So, I have renewed my faith in Lerner for this summer and I want Ashley Young to have his faith renewed and players like Ashley Young will only have his faith renewed by new players, quality players coming in.

I guess what I'm saying is, this isn't a defining summer for Martin O'Neill, it's a defining summer for Randy Lerner and until September 1st, I'm going to have faith.