Well what an interesting few days it’s been, eh? On Saturday I had the pleasure of going with me good friends Rob Simmonite and Martin Dawber to watch the first match of the season for Sheffield Wednesday. It was good to be there with friends, and the ground atmosphere was good as well. More on that in a future blog over at the other place. What I will say here, though, is that I’d be interested to see how much has changed in The Owls’ approach to the game as the season wears on.
Sunday then sees the Community Shield and Manchester United did really well in beating Chelsea 3-1. I was impressed by the game itself which can be a tight and uninteresting spectacle, but on this occasion there was good football all round especially from United. Chelsea looked slow off the blocks and even after getting a goal that could change the complexion of the game, United’s controlled response and ultimate third goal was a great example of United approaching their best. For me it proved what I believe the key point is about Berbatov. He’s a very good player, it just so happens that he’s used to a game built to his strengths and that cannot happen with Rooney the centre of attention. I expect Rooney not to play every game this season, and where he doesn’t, Berbatov will justify the faith his manager has in him.
The big news, though, is the departure of Martin O’Neill from his managerial post at Aston Villa. That’s big news. That’s big, important news with big, important consequences. I was in the process of writing the Review-Preview show in preparation for the start of the season, but I can tell you one thing for sure, that decision has messed up that series of notes. I read reports that apparently some of the players were glad to see him go, which is sad cos he’s the best manager Villa have had since Ron Atkinson. As I processed that news I am also in the process of reading the Danny Blanchflower biography written in the 1990’s and reading the writer’s assessment of Aston Villa when Blanchflower joined them in the early 1950’s, it is amazing to see just how little has changed about the club in over 50 years.
What I will say is this, Villa have probably reached the optimum and maximum of their abilities as things sit at the moment. With the progress of other clubs and the impending sale of Milner and even possibly Ashley Young, there is every chance that Villa could slip back into mid-table mediocrity as opposed to kick on and seriously threaten the top four places. I will watch eagerly to see who Villa bring in to replace O’Neill and that will determine quite a lot about what Villains can expect from their side in the season to come.
It adds to the mix of pre-season excitement and the countdown to kick-off carries on with me even more eagerly awaiting what will happen particularly in the Premier League in this season ahead.