The Doc returns from a little break to bring us The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

It's been great: I've been on holiday in the mountains for a week - far remote from all the furore and banter surrounding Bazza's move to City and the rumours surrounding Arry's overtures towards Ashley Young. I've read the long threads of comments with some amusement.

I think we need to get a few things straight.

The Good.


1. Three seasons ago, Gareth Barry was all about wasted potential. Out of contention for an England place, and overlooked by Sven Goran Eriksson, all his agent wanted for him was a move - any move.

Martin O'Neill made Gareth club captain, and switched him to a roaming central midfield role in which he has excelled. That switch won him back his England place, made him ultimately the most regular starter in England internationals since, developed Barry along with Laursen as the bedrock for Villa's improvement and arguably helped no end the development of Stan Petrov as a midfield deputy.

That's got to be great management, however you look at it. And it isn't undermined, in my view, by O'Neill's decision to cash in at a time when Barry himself, most of the Holte End and probably O'Neill (quietly) feel that it's just "time to move on". Twelve years is a long time in a job, and I don't resent Gareth moving on to a new challenge, especially one which will earn him a fortune.

2. There are some fans who think MON is a ditherer when it comes to the transfer market. He didn't dither when it came to Ashley Young. And bizarre though it may sound, the same clubs who were fighting O'Neill for Young's signature derided him, when he won the race, for paying over the odds (at £10m-ish for a player unproven at Premier League level).

O'Neill has since, inspirationally, given life to Young as a right-footed left winger and enabled him to terrorise right backs over and over again. He isn't the finished article, and the tactics are increasingly readable.

However, I look forward to any commenter who disagrees with my assertion that O'Neill and Robertson have spent big and riskily on a youthful talent, and turned Young into a player coveted by just about every other side in the Premier League. Now that's got to be great management, too.

The Bad

Like all Villans, I'm desperate for success and I sometimes get impatient with Martin O'Neill's cautious and considered approach to squad-building. But I see the logic in the moves he makes, and I'm convinced that our manager is trying to serve the best long-term interests of our club.

I'm glad I'm not a Portsmouth fan, though. Because the ex-Portsmouth manager seemed to revel in wheeling and dealing just for the sake of it. Big-money signings on transfer deadlines, players snatched from other clubs in dubious circumstances, repeated investigations into alleged fraudulent dealings. No thanks.

Yes, he won an FA Cup, and maybe the Pompey fans will forget the fact that 'Arry pledged his allegiance to Portsmouth one week before leaving for Spurs and taking Defoe with him.

There was a time when I couldn't work out whether Redknapp was Saints' boss or Pompey's, such is the man's loyalty.

Harry Redknapp may be a "great" trader. But he has shown no loyalty or offered any long-term vision to any club. Portsmouth, like the ex-O'Leary Leeds, are now in desperate financial straits as the result of 'Arry's financial fun.

The Ugly

So now the great Harry Redknapp is talking about signing Ashley Young, is he?

The Redknapp-Lampard family is clearly well-connected and influential in Premier League football. But does that give 'Arry the right to openly flout the rules (again) and court other club's contracted players? Before I get accused of naivete, yes I know it goes on all the time. But 'Arry is the first to complain if it's one of his players being courted, and that's what really does my head in.

There is an unspoken suggestion in his overtures, echoed by the Spurs fans who have nothing better to do than visit this site and beat their chests, that Spurs is a "bigger club" than Aston Villa.

There is no such thing as a "bigger club". All clubs stand on the precipice of financial disaster if their on-pitch success fails to meet their financial commitents - just look at the current fate of Leeds United ( a very "big" club), the shocking revelations about the finances of Liverpool (an even "bigger" club) or the woeful fate of Newcastle United (according to their fans the "biggest" club of all.)

What our 'Arry is saying is that he has been given, once again, a mandate to wheel and deal and that he may just fancy wheeling and dealing a bit with O'Neill over Ashley Young.

I'm certain that Ashley Young is a key part of Martin O'Neill's long-term plan for a successful domestic and European squad at Aston Villa. So I guess that only gold bars would tempt him to release Young from his contract at Villa Park. But still, the arrogance of Redknapp stinks.

You only have to look at Arsenal and Manchester United to see that long-term success comes from relentless club and squad-building, over decades. That's why Rafa's project is far from complete, and why Chelsea also have a way to go.

I think Lerner is a club-builder and O'Neill is a squad-builder. And I think that's the right environment for Ashley Young to grow and prosper.

I think Redknapp is a horse-trader and Spurs are going nowhere. The choice is yours, Ashley.