I’m not quite sure how I feel about Wednesday night. I keep wondering why I’m not gutted or disappointed. Perhaps it is because we’ve been there twice in three years or as Steven Gerrard said it was always going to be Chelsea’s moment.
“It just wasn’t to be, sometimes you just have to hold your hands up and admit it wasn’t your night. We gave it absolutely everything and I was as proud to be captain of the team last night as I have ever been. Even after going behind we kept on fighting and looking to get back into the game and when we managed to do that it looked like we could even go on and win it. Like I said, it wasn’t to be, but it wasn’t for a lack of effort. You have to give Chelsea credit, they are a good side – you don’t get through to European Cup finals unless you are.”
End of story really. I don’t think they’ll be many inquests into this game as this season has been one long, big inquest. If there are detractors should remember that we looked like going out at the group stages and the Arsenal and Inter games must be amongst the highlights of the season?
Inevitably thoughts will turn to the future as well as looking back. Overall Rafa, via the teams form in the back end of the season, has bought himself more time. He has the support of the fans and therefore most of the board and I look forward to his continued presence next season. Naturally the whole process will start again over the summer leading up into the 2008-09 season. No doubt we will have some new signings and departures so expectations will be high again. But that, and review of how this season has gone, is for another time.
Although we’ve still two games to go thoughts are already turning to next season. Unlike last summer, when we seemed to take ages to get up our transfer deals sorted, we’re out of the blocks even before the gun has started with a bid of £10m for Gareth Barry.
As mentioned before Barry would be safe bet. He has a proven track record of good form for Villa. He and Gerrard go back along way through playing at England under 21 level. Gerrard clearly enjoyed playing with him at senior level, as opposed to Frank Lampard it seems, when they paired up for the last few games of McClaren’s period of office.
Barry gives us an extra defensive option as he has played full back and centre half for Villa. However he seems to have moved on from this and has been chosen for England in midfield. This is an area of the pitch where we are well represented. Even if Rafa ships out a few players will Barry be guaranteed a first team place?
Martin O’Neil’s is less than pleased and was quick to criticise the offer and it’s timing..
“Liverpool haven’t made a straight cash offer. They’ve made an offer involving a mish-mash of nameless player exchanges. I’m particularly disappointed to hear that business is being conducted in public. We’re trying to build a side here and we’re not a feeder club.”
I suspect there is element of dismay in O’Neil’s comments as he could lose one of his top players however, we don’t come out of it too well. Why did we publicise it? Why couldn’t we wait until after the season, Villa are still chasing a UEFA Cup place? Further more it is perhaps an insult to Villa that we trying to palm off players as makeweights in the deal and also what does it say about our financial clout this summer if we have to strike deals in this manner? Still, if you don’t try…..?
Finally the club unveiled the 2008-09 home kit. See it by clicking here. Guess what, it’s predominantly red! I think Adidas have made a few small changes the most noticeable one is ditching of the “bat wing” collar, a change for the better me thinks. Jose Reina has gone all “goth”. He will now be in all black. Is this a wise choice? Will we be able to pick him out and quite a few away kits are black nowadays. Best keep your little yellow number Jose, just in case!
Back tomorrow with a review of the Man City game.