I'm going to start with O'Neill today. This is his fifth season coming up and while expectations might have lowered, it is time for him to deliver something and when I say deliver, what I actually mean is, do better than Gordo.
What supporters of Aston Villa should be able to expect, five seasons in, is improvement. That is if you think Aston Villa should be capable of improvement and I hope you do.
Now - you can argue more points than last season is improvement and if the game was based on what we achieved last season, then you would be right. Unfortunately, we play in a league, against other teams, so it isn't. This season we need silverware or better than 6th.
And our very condescending advice to O'Neill is to start working on the football, today. Work on passing, set pieces and patterns and while that might sound strange, coming from a blogger, we sort of know O'Neill doesn't work on these things and after three seasons of finishing sixth, he has to accept that the way he is doing it, the way he has done for years, isn't going to do it at this club or in this league.
Running the same players into the ground every week is only going to get us exactly what we have had.
Confirmed pre-season matches
- July 18: Basingstoke v Villa XI - The Camrose - 2pm
- July 19: Peterborough v Villa - London Road - 7.45pm
- July 24: Bohemians v Villa - Dalymount Park - 3pm
- July 27: Walsall v Villa - Banks's Stadium - 7.45pm
- July 31: Villa v Feyenoord - San Antonio Stadium - 9.15pm
- August 1: Villa v Benfica - San Antonio Stadium - 9.15pm
- August 6: Villa v Valencia - Villa Park - 7.45pm
Put those dates in your diary if you want to see the team play pre-season but we would get in early if you want to see James Milner in an Aston Villa shirt.
Aston Villa Speculation
I read something this week that suggested only four Premier League clubs have not brought in any new players this summer but I'm not going to check, because it sort of doesn't matter and you shouldn't let it bother you either.
We know how O'Neill works, or doesn't. We all know that we wont get anything done early and we all know that the big story of the summer for us, is going to be James Milner.
We should also all know that unless O'Neill gets a large chunk of cash to spend - by either selling quite a few players for really good money, or from the owner - it is no better than 6th again next season, not unless the football gets better.
So, forget about players coming in for now. We know Manchester City want James Milner so what we have to hope for is that Martin O'Neill has spoken to the player and convinced him to stay for another season.
If he has failed to convince Milner to stay, expect the club to sell him very soon so funds can be made available to the manager. Then, hope that O'Neill gets lucky. You see, if he gets lucky with players, the football might get better all by itself for a season.
Lastly today we look at something Steve Froggat has said about the fitness.
Villa are always pretty fit for the start of the season but they may have to change their structures because whatever they have been doing in the last few years they have blown up towards the end of the season. That will concern Martin O’Neill.
It may be because they do not have the depth in their squad to cover injuries and suspensions. But they might need to look at pre-season too. Their results have not been great in the last part of the season and Martin will need to try and find a way to make sure that doesn’t happen again.
If Martin O’Neill can get this right it could be the difference in where Villa finish and that could be the difference between Champions League football or Europa League. We are talking about the little percentages here and there but fitness is one of the areas managers look at.
Steve; it is two things and you touch on the both. O'Neill either doesn't have confidence in his squad or doesn't know how to use it and he also doesn't do much on fitness.
Look at the number of players used each season the last three, then look at the players that have played and how many times, then read what a former player said about O'Neill and fitness work.
So, forget about players coming and going. O'Neill has more important things to work on and that should be what interests us.