I’m fed up listening to bloggers and journalists complain about how they have nothing to write about. I’m fed up hearing people bemoan either the lack of transfer activity, or even the potential transfer activity at Villa Park. I’m fed up seeing the months of May, June and July dubbed “The Silly Season” by writers who, in my opinion, have struggled to find the real beauty of football; because this is one football blogger who doesn’t shirk the task of embracing the summer. This is one AVFC fan who already knows that there are always 315 days without club football in every calendar year. And this is one writer who won’t be defeated by the blank page.
Almost a full month into temporary life without the Premier League and I’m not panicking. I’ve probably used up all the stats I could deciphering the aftermath of the 09/10 season. I’ve discussed money matters, analyzed player performances and scrutinized the gaffer. I’ve had a look at the rumoured transfer targets and I’ve put forth my wish-list. I’ve even had a juke at matters outside the club, but tried to relate these back to Aston Villa. Yet, with still 67 days to endure before the big kick off, I refuse to lose distance with my beloved Villa. I could write a short sarcastic piece about how nothing is going on (like certain Villa forums); the ludicrousness of vague grapevines (like certain Villa forums); I could lambast Martin O’Neill for the audacity he had to holiday in May (like certain Villa forums); or provide copy and paste minute by minute news from South Africa (like certain Villa forums)… but I won’t, and I can’t anyway, because my enthusiasm for Aston Villa is unwavering. Of course, I have World Cup fever and I am looking forward to analyzing and documenting the planet’s biggest field game competition, but not at the expense of the upcoming season. Because beyond the poetic 4 World Cup weeks, life goes on. And for most of us; that life is Aston Villa.
Living vicariously through the performances of your football team is a dangerous game in itself. Your mood is determined by the weekend’s results, by the player attitudes, or by the manager’s interview. And for many long-sided fans, football is a drug; and as Villa currently reside in the Nothing to Declare checkout section, the footie addicts grow increasingly frustrated at the lack of dosage for their bad habit.
However, for me; the summer, whilst it is undeniably an off-season phase, is arguably the best part of the season… particularly for an Aston Villa supporter. Not only because it involves less defeats than normal; but because the break provides the opportunity to recharge. It allows us to accumulate our thoughts and excite our imagination with its prolonged suspense. It is the one time of the year when every team is on a level playing field and belief that this is our year is rife. The rest gives us renewed hope in tomorrow and the chance to live and learn; a bit like sleep does, and works in identical phases: reflection; dreaming; preparation.
And having reflected long and hard about all issues last season; having tirelessly debated in my head and with others about all-things-Villa, in the end it was easy to conclude that the 2009/10 campaign was a giant stepping stone in awakening the sleeping giant. And thus, it has been easy to allow myself to slip contently into a new chapter of the year; the dream.
“Dream big and dare to fail…” (Norman D. Vaughan)
Yes, our league form suggests an inability to break teams down (particularly at home). 52 goals aren’t enough. With Luke Young out of favour, we have massive right back problems. Stiliyan Petrov has added another year to his biological clock and we could do with a replacement. All the talk is that James Milner is off and there is something lacklustre about Carew and Agbonlahor (on their day, they are unplayable however). And once again, we have used the fewest number of players over the course of 38 games.
But this does not faze me. This brickwork is simply what allows me to hold tight to my dreams of next season. We have improved every year; our first XI has gotten stronger; and now we are ready to step up a gear. We are ready to dream.
So; realism aside for the moment, what are the hopes for next year?
With Tottenham Hotspur occupying the final Champions League spot, would it be too audacious to suggest that Aston Villa (2 victories behind) could edge their way in this coming year – especially with an influx of new faces?
With our cup consistency, improved belief, and O’Neill’s ability to set us up effectively; why can’t we end our 10 month cup drought (I’m counting the Peace Cup – it’s been too long)?
Expecting (hoping) that we once again disregard the Europa League (it’s a worthless tournament), I’m being a tad cheeky and asking if it would be at all possible for the Villa faithful to be delivered a competitive trophy and a shot at Champions League qualification.
And to do so, we need to improve on our competent first XI with a number of additions which I believe will push us past Spurs and City (for all their spending), and will cost us a net loss of approximately £27.5m (once you consider value of my suggested outgoing transfers).
With a desperate desire to keep Milner and Carew; and a coveted (albeit, necessary) need to spend the guts of £30m, I’m dreaming of success in the 2010/11 campaign, and below is a number of ways this could be done.
When MON has made his move, and the season draws closer, I will enter the preparatory phase of the summer – but until then, as in my dreams, I like to think that I can have my say.
Regular First Team
Richards Davies Dunne Warnock
Young Ireland Milner Downing
Rafael da Silva
Villa Park (vs bottom half teams)
Davies Collins Dunne
Ireland Keane Young
Richards Davies Dunne Warnock
Petrov Reo Coker Milner
*However, I still think Carew is our most talented forward and will probably make my first team. But what a lovely squad we could have this year for under £30m.