Martin O’Neill has now had half a season in charge of Aston Villa and has made a number of comments concerning transfer speculation.
One thing that has been mentioned or quoted on a few occasions is his thoughts about concentrating on local talent. This raises a few questions of just what the vision is of the new Management team backed by Randolph (Randy) Lerner and what sorts of discussions are taking place in terms of Martin”s shopping list as far as strengthining the team is concerned.
Arsene Wenger just took a swipe at Chelsea who claim that they will be the biggest club in the world by 2010 by remarking there was a lot more to making a big club than a few high flying sucessful seasons, such as history and players that have graced the team to make it succesful over an extended period of time and he is right!
Arsenal and Manchester United are world renowned clubs as is Liverpool. Chelsea has a way to go, but Aston Villa has a very long way to go and it starts with a vision that is wider than Birmingham and further a field than the United Kingdom.
I will be the first to admit that it is difficult to embrace the thought of having star players not of local origin after all we naturally want local lads to get the support of making it into the 1st team, but to be an internationally renowned club in the modern day the clubs that embrace a wider telent pool are the clubs that will succeed on the bigger stage.
I am not for minute suggesting that Mr. Lerner splashes out millions on star recruits from the Italian, Portugese, French and Spanish leagues, but more along the lines that Martin O”Neill applies his uncanny knack of selecting future stars from a wider international feeder club base, with the occassional high flyer.
Aston Villa shouldn”t just be in the top 5 or 6 of the English clubs, Villa should be the biggest club in the world! In order to even contemplate that you need consistent international presence. Manchester United has a shirt sponsorship deal worth 20 million pounds over four years due to the large sales globally! Whilst there is a core supporter group within the UK, there is an even bigger marketing opportunity internationally.
- A visionary manager in Sir Alex Ferguson has assembled
- an internationally mixed squad in the right areas to achieve
- years of success on the football field and
- make Manchester United a world famous football club.
I was travelling home from work and reading the daily paper when on the back page there was an article on Middlesborough. What do you think the story was about, no prizes for guessing, it was about Mark Swartzer and the other Mark from Australia also got a mention. Needless to say you can buy Middlesborough shirts in Australia but you can”t find a Villa shirt anywhere. Oh and by the way Harry Kewell does wonders for Liverpool in Australia as well.
It is no coincidence that the most active and thriving Aston Villa Supporters Clubs outside of the UK happen to be in Denmark and Sweden. If Olof Mellberg wasn”t in the squad along with previous players from Sweden over the past 5 or 6 years, and Schmichel plus Sorensen and Laursen from Denmark played for another club do you honestly think that these supporters groups would be as active? When Mark Bosnich was playing for Aston Villa is it any surprise that there were 4 supporters clubs in Australia now there is one. All of these players are internationals and are heroes in their native countries.
Aston Villa has everything going for it, the name the history and the core supporters, let”s all hope that the management team consistently brings in talent from Sweden, Denmark, Holland and Germany as a start point. If Aston Villa is successful with players from other countries the supporter base will naturally follow and so will the shirt sales.
If this thinking is not foremost in the minds of the new management and it”s core supporter base, then the ambition is simply not good enough and Aston Villa will remain as just another English football club competing for pecking rights with the likes of West Ham, Bolton and Everton.
Some of us have aspirations, I just hope that the new management team is looking beyond Birmingham. Whilst it is a key component in success it is not the only area in the making of a world class club. In every international airport that I have been to there is always an Arsenal and Manchester United shirt hanging up along side a Juventus and Barcelona shirt. I pray for the day that an Aston Villa shirt is there as well where it rightly belongs.