Villa Are A Mess And The Circus Will Roll On – Stan Speaks

So Sherwood is gone and Aston Villa are looking for yet another manager who’ll want his own players, own input and if he’s any good, want his own direction.

The Villa hierarchy though have another plan.

Hendrik Almstadt, the former number cruncher who was so great at Arsenal that there were Cheshire smiles all round when he left London Colney, has won the battle for control of the mind and direction of Villa, for now.

With his pal Tom Fox, another former marketeer at Arsenal now enjoying a real say on football direction at England’s 4th most successful club, they are convinced that moneyball, the statistical recruitment of players, finding gems and bargains at the right age and price is the way forward after several years of back peddling. Never have so many thousands of fans have been so at the mercy of two men employed out of their pay grade.

Poor Recruitment
Randy Lerner of course couldn’t care less; he’s stateside, waiting for his dream to come true, the phone to ring and someone offer him £200 million to take Villa off his hands.

Well, Randy, it ain’t going to happen! Why? Because on YOUR watch, you’ve employed a backroom admin staff who wouldn’t get a Director of Football or Chief Executive role at any other club, and that for me as a fan and broadcaster will be Lerner’s final legacy. Recruitment on a disastrous scale.

Remi Garde, Nigel Pearson, Brendan Rodgers and my choice, David Moyes are in the frame but it will boil down more than likely to Rodgers or Garde, both men who have been used to working by committee rather than the benevolent dictator that villa desperately need. So the circus will roll on, one of these two guys will be out on their ear in the months to come, possibly leaving Villa in the Championship in the process.

Moyes as I said is my choice. He’d have Paddy Riley, an underperforming stats man who’s been bounced around Villa, then Liverpool, then Villa again, having no success at either, and Almstadt, in my opinion nothing more than a glorified mate of Fox, both out on their backside in no time. He’d see through them and wouldn’t want or desire input from men who can offer him nothing other than the latest banal report on a word document.

Real management asks questions of players, their desire, spirit and willingness to be a part of a club, all things that the system Fox, Almstadt and Riley espouse can’t answer. In other words, Moyes wants a blend of human beings, not automatons thrust at him. So he’d be crazy to take it unless he had carte blanche to build a club from the ground up.

Villa are a mess, and it’s been a ticking relegation clock for 5 years now.

It’s time to change, but it won’t. Relegation and the skeletons of Leeds, Forest, Wolves, Ipswich, all great clubs mismanaged at some point, all await.

Mr Lerner, you were warned.

Martial must be the Law!
I was at Old Trafford yesterday and saw a real United superstar growing into his new role and proving the point that great clubs, the greatest of clubs, usher out the old and bring in the new, show no sentiment or favour, all with one aim, to win trophies.

Martial is quick, with sharp movement, no fuss, no diving, cheating or petulance. A banker for a club like United that need youth but also players who can be moulded into something special. It’s the United way. So why isn’t he already the number 9 in the number 9 role? The answer is the most politically sensitive hot potato in English club and national football today. Mr Wayne Rooney.

I’ve written a lot about the need for Van Gaal to simply tell Wayne that his place isn’t guaranteed or necessarily justified on current performances.

If the United manager is to get the best out of his new young talent, getting the match winning goals which saw him break onto the Premier League scene, then Rooney needs to know he’s not teflon, not irreplaceable, and whether it’s for United or the Three Lions, that’s the perception, Rooney is simply too big a name to drop.

I’d love to see James Wilson and Martial develop a relationship, create chances, get to know each other and have a working relationship, after all they are the future. Rooney’s past has been stellar but his stats this season are below average and United, in a season that could see them win the title with a fair wind, need performers, not sentiment.

Playing Second Fiddle
Take Jesus Navas at City, his stats just didn’t add up last season, so despite him being a big name and signing, City saw the stats and knew a title win this time round would only come with more crosses, goals and chances created, so they broke the bank for De Bruyne and Sterling. It’s working.

Telling a young, potentially world class player he’s second fiddle to the legend isn’t a good thing, it provides a safety blanket, someone to hide behind rather than taking the shackles off. Telling Martial he’s the new King, and he’s to be trusted, like De Bruyne and Sterling would be the difference.

Fortune favours the brave, and being brave for LvG will be telling Wayne he’s no longer top man, but another option to go to. Be brave, be bold, Martial may just score the goals to win the whole damn thing.

Real Fans Ripped Off
On Sunday morning just gone it was an early train from Euston to Manchester having been at Arsenal v Everton with the Manchester Derby to come. I’ve made the west coast main line journey so many times, whether it be to go to Liverpool, City or United and by the numbers of foreign fans packing the trains, the clamour for Premier League tickets and the greatest show on earth has never been greater.

At what cost though? At what cost to domestic football fans, to football fans exiled through work in other parts of the country? At what cost to the heart and soul of the English game?

I fully accept the Premier League is a global league, and we welcome the best talent and supporters from everywhere with open arms. I go to Malaysia on Thursday, and the last time I went, 6000 Liverpool fans met me at a meet and greet, so I know the power of the league and the passion of foreign fans.

That’s not the point though; the point is that on that train, 2 South African guys and an American couple were gloating about bagging their tickets, flouting Man United rules, and in the process of course, driving up prices for fans who have been supporting their clubs through the wind and the rain, decade-in decade-out.

The Scudamore Test
Man United season ticket rules state clearly that season tickets shall not be sold on, yet the two South African guys who paid £300 per ticket from a season ticket holder would not have been checked by the club. They are welcomed with open arms! Why? Because they pass the Scudamore test. What’s that? Let me explain.

A study has shown that football tourists on average spend 800 quid on a match day compared to a tenner for local fans.

There’s your answer. Money and greed, and everyone is eating from the trough.

It drives up YOUR season ticket price, your merchandise and at a time when ticket prices should be lower than ever due to the huge TV deals, prices continue to go up, and that’s why.

Blind Eye
That season ticket holder who sold the tickets? You may think “oh come on Stan, he’s covering his costs now and again to keep his ticket and go on more away days”. NO, that season ticket holder isn’t even resident in the UK, doesn’t go to games and only has tickets to sell weekly for profit. Every club has fans that do it, and a blind eye is turned because of the club shop spend, and it’s not only wrong but illegal in many cases (touting) and contrary to rules of many clubs.

A simple ID card would work. Match the credentials to the card. Have named friends or family who can use the ticket too. We’d soon see who the real fans are while the tourists, who are welcomed by Scudamore and greedy clubs, will be the first to abandon the game when the bubble bursts.