Villa – The most likable team in the Premier League

by Martin

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

Take us to the promise land

I know that I generally write negative things about the Premier League, but I genuinely feel that its existence has been eroding all that we love about the game of football for too long, and that the world would be a better place without it. Too much money is being funnelled into it, by too many people who don’t give a monkeys about the game, or about anything but short term financial reward. I really hope that the so called big 4 all fail early in Europe this year, as it could make these cynical investors look elsewhere and leave us in peace.

Anyway, I thought it was time I wrote something positive about the Premier League, as it isn’t all bad. And where better to look for inspiration but the West Midlands.

In amongst the foreign legions, tiresome overly expectant fans, replica shirt wearing chairmen and tedious internet whingers can be found a team quietly going about its business of improving week in week out and beginning to challenge the status quo. In fact anyone who doesn’t support Aston Villa should at least allow themselves a smile whenever they get a decent result, which nowadays is more often than not.

I know they have a rich overseas owner, but for once he isn’t flouncing around making ridiculous statements, trying to sell to someone even richer, bringing in directors of football or falling out with his fat mate. Randy Lerner is letting his manager get on with running the team, and giving him the backing he needs. And what a manager. They don’t come any better than MON. A thoroughly nice man, with a respect for the game that most lack, he is also a tactical genius who has been successful everywhere he has managed. After a short lived stint at Norwich he became the greatest manager ever to grace Leicester City, winning 2 League cups and giving us 3 top 10 finishes in a row. At Celtic he owned Scottish football for his entire tenure, and as a pundit he is second to none. His motivational skill, and ability to take a bunch of players and turn them into over achievers is documented fact.

He is now turning Villa into the most likeable team in recent Premier League history. With a backbone of solid young English talent, he is threatening to take the league by storm and really challenge the dominance of the big 4. With players like the Young brothers (arf), Agbonlahor, Reo Coker, Davies, Barry, Shorey and Milner in the side Villa are a better England team than England right now.

O’Neil has always played the same system – he likes a big man and a little man up front, and a strong left wing threat. These days its Carew, Gabby and Ashley respectively in the roles. At the Foxes it was Heskey, Cottee and Guppy. Note the similarity – two youngsters who made the England squad, and an experienced head between them. Its not rocket science but it works.

And while Arsenal fans in particular, but also those other lot from North London, as well as the Geordies, Scousers, Mancs and lottery winners all seem to spend all their time moaning or crowing on internet letters pages and chat rooms, you rarely get the Villa supporters doing it. O’Neil breeds respect wherever he goes, both for him and for the game itself, and it rubs off on others.

They may not win the League this year, but mark my words, if MON stays put they will win it in the next 3 or 4. And football will be a much richer game when it happens.

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  • Stevie

    good piece, I agree, MON is a top top manager, and a very likable man, he has more charisma in his glasses then all of the other managers put together. He is the best pundit on TV, I loved it when he made Robbie Williams look like a total knob (we all know that anyway)

    Villa are a very good side, however, they are still a little to inconsistent for my liking, brilliant one day, awful the next. I can’t see them winning the league in 3 or 4 years, no way. Never the less, they will be challenge for the CL.

  • Darren

    quality, how to shoot that twat Williams down in seconds!

    MON should be in charge of England now, he’s the kind of bloke who you can not like. Villa will do well, but I’m with Steve, that aint going to the league.

    I think Villa could do with a world class center foward, Carew is a decent player but is not clinical enough for my liking, we all know (except Capello) that Young is the best winger in the league by a mile.

    I must also remind you that anyone can manage Celtic to a title, look at Strachen. I could win the title with Celtic!

  • http://vitalvilla Jim

    …not forgetting foregoing shirt sponsorship millions to aid a local childrens hospice charity (Acorns).

  • Matt Quinn

    Good article and i agree its good to see Villa being run well by a likeable and decent guy like Randy Lerner. Doug Ellis shouldnt go unmentioned either as he left Villa financially stable and brought in O’Neill and then sold to Lerner (for a lower amount than another company offered).
    O’Neill is a great man-manager but i dont think we will win the league with these sets of players. We need to consistently improve and not lose our best players. Which could be tough.

    The only thing i would disagree with is about Villa fans not moaning! Im a villa fan, and the only thing that annoys me is the fellow fans. This summer there was a large quantity asking for O’Neill to be sacked due to his hesitation in the transfer market. They also get on the back of Agbonlahor and Stylian Petrov pretty quickly whenever we lose. The one thing David O’Leary got right was that Villa fans can be fickle!

  • Agge

    Go on the Villa!!

    I still can’t believe O’Leary was our manager once. We’ve come a long way since. Good ridance to he and Doug Ellis.

  • Stevie

    and that is why Villa will never win the league, the squad lacks depth, which was evident tonight!!

  • Bugsy

    Great Piece !
    I must say as a Villa season ticket holder myself, anything is better than the dark days of O’Dreary !
    And to get a manager like MON and a chairman like Randy and the squad they are building together is like a little piece of heaven right there on the Villa park turf.

    We may not be winning the league we may not get champions league but we’ll have good time along the way and faith will stay with the management and the players because we are going to be the closest team to break the mould of the top 4 and if we can do it with mostly English players then how better the game will be for it !!

    Villa till I die !

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