First, to Craig Gardner. I know this rumour linking him to The Clowns isn't new and we've all had a discussion on this one back in May, but I don't think there is anything wrong in reiterating the view of the majority.
I'm sure someone once said that 'reiteration carries conviction' and seeing as we've allowed Randy Lerner to buy our club, pile it with the purchase price full of debt in three seasons and do what is commonly getting referred to as 'a Glazer', he better had start to listen.
We should never have sold Gary Cahill and he shouldn't sanction the sale of Craig Gardner. If we are going to start selling the young talent we develop, what he might as well do is just not bother with the academy and get rid of everyone involved. Craig Gardner, when asked, has done a fantastic job under difficult circumstances and he is an Aston Villa fan, who has shown nothing but pure dedication to the club. To sell him would be wrong, to sell him to The Clowns would be an insult.
Yes, the above views on Craig Gardner are my own, but seeing as he hasn't had a proper run in the team apart from when playing at right back (when he also chipped in with a few goals), is young and an England U21 regular, we shouldn't be selling him, we should be nurturing him and giving players like this a real opportunity. There is a real value to having a local lad in the middle of the park, we've seen it and some clubs above us know the benefits too.
But moving on to John Carew, who Martin O'Neill doesn't want to lose. I hate it when things like this come out of the blue and it seems a bit like when Martin O'Neill started saying, we might accept Gareth Barry has to leave for a team that can offer him Champions League football. He was sort of softening the blow. Or it could just be absolutely nothing and a bit of PR.
Martin O'Neill, June 14th 2009
We want John to stay at the club – he’s signed for a couple of years and we want him to stick around. He’s very popular with the crowd and that helps his confidence. His goal-scoring ratio is now up to where it should be. We want him to stay here, it’s as simple as that.
Now, I'm not entirely sure when that quote is from as I thought the manager is on holiday, but it is doing the rounds now although I wouldn't be surprised if it was rehashed from something a while ago, so it might be nothing and just someone digging it up for reaction.
But, let's not focus on the negative, let's move on to John Gregory, who usually has lots of positive things to say about Aston Villa.
John Gregory, June 14th 2009
Martin does need to buy in two or three more Gareth Barries, he needs to spend that kind of money to really make Villa a force from start to finish next season.
He isn't wrong. Actually, John Gregory is wrong. I think we need five players to walk into the first team, not three, of equal ability as Barry, if we are to challenge for the top four. It isn't difficult to work out and well, it has to happen. We need players for our first team and all this talk of 'building the squad' is just a smokescreen to deflect away from the real issues.
I've just read through what I've written and my optimism for next season seems to be wavering. With the players back from pre-season in two weeks, things need to start to happen soon. I know some will say there hasn't been much movement so we should just wait but my response to that is, we can't afford to wait, our need is urgent.
We need players in and the likes of Craig Gardner, in my opinion, can't be allowed to leave. Let Zat Knight or Marlon Harewood go, for sure, but not Gardner. And my little pop at Lerner above, I'm sorry to those who I offend, but it is sort of convenient that our net spend on players is now just over £50mn. since he came in, we had an extra £30mn. in TV money last summer and the club is in £70mn. of debt, just a couple of million more than he paid for the club.
We are buying the club for him. Sorry, just doesn't seem right.