The next step, as in top four, is so close. Will Aston Villa take the step?

When Lerner came in, his PR man, General Krulak spouted a lot of blarney about a five year plan about Villa getting into the top four. A lot of people bought into it and they can't be blamed, because they wanted to believe him. They wanted to believe the hype and then started to defend any criticism with the 'five year plan'.

Since then, Martin O'Neill has dismissed the five year plan and well, I don't think many were really that surprised.


The thing is, they came in and said five years, because five years was acceptable and believable. Had they come in and said next season, nobody would have really believed them after they spent just over £20mn. and had they said ten years, it wouldn't have worked, because ten years is too long time and it's very difficult to see ten years in the future. Also and this part is extremely important; it doesn't take ten years, it can be done in five.

Let me explain my post for today. We can buy every promising youngster in the country but it doesn't mean that in ten years they are all going to turn into excellent players and that they're going to win us the league. In fact, I don't think that even if we did that, that most would be with us after two or three seasons if they were actually that good, because well, we'd still be flirting with top six and not really kicking on.

In this league you need to make an impact. Look at Everton and David Moyes. He has managed Everton since 2002, do you really think they will be anything other than what they are without significant investment?

Do you honestly think we will be anything other than what we are without significant investment? I can tell you the answer right now; no.

You see, in this league, you have to get to where you want to be then build further. You have to spend the money to get top four and when you are there and in a better position to attract better players, you have to spend more to stay there. Getting to the top four is actually the easy part, it is what we do when we get to the top four that will really define Lerner and that is where my point of this post begins today.

Many people, myself included to an extent, put our poor run of form last season down to Laursen getting injured. I also think it was when we went 4-4-2 and I only say that so some don't think I'm forgetting or changing my mind, but imagine if Laursen hadn't had gotten injured.

Had Laursen stayed fit it could have been very different last season and that is the real point. We don't need to buy more youngsters or plan for another few seasons, we are right now, within touching distance and we have to kick on.

Part of me also believes that Cueller and Davies will form a very solid partnership in time and maybe Martin O'Neill does too, but what I'm trying to do today is get away from this 'planning for the future' mentality because we have been doing that now for three seasons.

This coming season has to be our first real push and to do that, we now need ready made quality additions and like I did last summer, I fancy they are coming.

Yes, the squad needs to be bigger so we don't give up on competitions again, but that is part of football and shouldn't be a surprise for the club, but our real focus has to be on the league and I hate writing this next part, but breaking into the top four.

To do that and fully concentrate on the league we need a central defender and a central midfielder. Replace what we have lost, put some faith in what we have got and then strengthen. Despite the poor run we had, we were very close last season and we are in an excellent position for this season, but lets not get complacent with talk of ten years and watching it happen, as that will get us into a cycle of never expecting anything.

Replace the two we have lost with proper replacements and strengthen the team with a better player or two and we can do it this season. Don't do that and we won't, but at this end of the league it really is about spending money and until we get into the top four we are going to have to spend a little more than the others, but that is the game we are in and shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone.

The foundations are built, we can now build a straw house or one made out of brick. The number of rooms on each floor might not matter as much, but the quality of the build will. This really is the summer and I suspect that next January will be important too, much like it was for Arsene Wenger.

So, unless we sign a player or two today, that is my lot, as there isn't a fresh rumour to found anywhere, but I will say this; we can't let Ashley Young go, because if we replace him with DJ Downing, we will be going back a year and will sort of make everything done to date a fairly pointless exercise.

We need to show the likes of Young that we mean business and that will only happen if we do get better this season and that will happen with big signings, not more kids or potential. We did that last season and we moved on a point and stayed in the same position, we need the quality now and we will have to unfortunately pay for that quality.