Money, money, money: Does it make Aston Villa go round?

It's normal at this time of year for football fans to urge their owners and chairmen to open their chequebooks large and spend, spend, spend. Because, of course, massive spending is the key to success.

The FA Premier League is awash with cash. Its receipts from TV companies dwarf those in any other country on earth. As an FA qualified coach working with young footballers, I never cease to be amazed how little of that income flows to the grass roots of the game (and Trevor Brooking has done a singularly pathetic job at the FA in changing that).


Nearly all of the cash generated by the FA goes into players' pockets. Some, committed and at the peak of their profession, deserve it. I wouldn't begrudge John Terry or Steven Gerrard - for example - the money they earn: they are at the pinnacle of their own profession, and the pinnacle of any profession earns big bucks.

But the cash paid to less committed players is a disgrace: Robinho springs to mind...a player who doesn't really want to play for Manchester City, but does it because it earns him a fortune. He tries when it suits him.

I was hugely impressed that one of the first investments Randy Lerner made was in the Bodymoor Heath training facility. Everyone in the game knows that players take training facilities massively into account when choosing new clubs. Putting the extra £8m into Bodymoor helps us strengthen an already excellent Academy, but also assists in persuading new recruits to come to Villa. After all, it's basically their "place of work".

So, back to money.

Tell me, how many Premier League wannabees have tried to spend their way out of mediocrity? Leeds? Newcastle? And the next, trust me, will be Manchester City - a football accident just waiting to happen.

I know that many Villa fans are impatient for success, and like them I want to see us break into the hegemony of the so-called "Big 4" sooner rather than later.

But I firmly believe that the right way to invest Randy's money isn't in short-term "trophy signings".

If we can't financially out muscle the "Big Four", then we have to be cleverer. We have to invest our club's money a) further into the Academy and the effort to find young players who are potential Premier League material and, almost more importantly, b) into a highly-paid and market-leading scouting set-up which is capable of unearthing young talent from around the world.

If you look at Arsenal, they have more or less balanced their books on transfers over the period Wenger has been in charge. Kolo Toure cost £150k. Robin van Persie £1.5m. Nicolas Anelka was sold for £23m to help finance the purchase of Thierry Henry for, wait for it, £10.5m.

It isn't about spending big bucks. The old laws of football, thankfully, hold true even in these money-crazed days: hire a good manager; invest in youth; set up a great scouting network and then turn unknowns into great players; coach well; prepare well; build a strong and winning dressing room, and be well-prepared and good enough to get the tactics on the field right on match day.

Villa's long-term success won't come from Randy opening his chequebook this summer to a whole load of big fat signings. In my view, it will come from an all-round focus on everything needed to build a healthy and prosperous football club. It may mean us just fighting Everton for 5th next season.

But I'd rather have that than spend £100m to get to a Champions League semi-final, Mr O'Leary, and in the process destroy a football club that many thousands of people love.

Short-termism is a very bad thing. And forgetting that football is about more than cash is even worse.

I hope Randy Lerner invests his money in the long-term health of AVFC.