In my Aston Villa world there are few things that I am unclear on because I don't find it difficult making a decision with the information I have or can get my hands on. I don't like to make decisions half cocked and I usually don't, but let me ask you a question to start the day off.
Would you rather make the final of the Europa League or the semi-final of the FA Cup and final of the other thing we were in, and I'm not going to name it and I wouldn't have said this about it had we won it or even if we get to the final again, but it really is the Mickey Mouse of all the football tournaments we could enter.
I ask, because Fulham are within touching distance of a European final and while that European competition is the little brother of the proper European tournament it is still something I would swap the final and semi-final we have had this season for.
Which is why I'm a bit surprised that Martin O'Neill is already waving the white flag when it comes to this competition when if we finish fourth and fail to qualify for the big brother tournament, we would end up in it and surely he would have already brought in better players by then and improved the squad to play in the big brother competition.
I will make it clear to the Aston Villa fans what we will do if we are in the Europa League. Had we qualified and got to the group stage this season, I would not have thrown games away, but I would’ve blooded the youngsters. The likes of Ciaran Clark, Marc Albrighton and Nathan Delfouneso would’ve been given a chance so that, come this stage of the season, you’d know precisely what they’re capable of.
That experience might come in really handy in the run-up in the Premier League. That’s the theory. In practice there might be a Europa League game so important that you might have to go with your senior players. This is my thought process and, if we’re in the Europa League next season, that is what we will do. If we’re in the Champions League then try telling Richard Dunne, who has fought so hard to get this far, that he’s not playing.
Now, I'm not a Premier League manager getting paid £3mn a season and I've never won the Mickey Mouse Cup but can I ask this; when did Aston Villa become too big for a European football tournament?
Who gave Martin O'Neill the ability to decide that this football club was bigger than European silverware? I'm sorry, but waving the white flag again, before we are even in the tournament I think is fairly defeatist and also fairly premature - only because it is very likely we will end up in it.
Don't get me wrong, the semi final of the FA Cup was nice and the final of the other was nice too and on the day I was convinced we would win and I'm still gutted, but you can not beat European nights and there is something special about European football and to get to the final of the Europa League is surely worth the extra few games, if you play your reserve side in the FA Cup and Mickey Mouse cup.
This is very much a preference thing and I've started a poll, but what would you prefer; a trip to Crystal Palace (something we did this season) or Juventus coming to play at Villa Park (something Fulham had this season). I just know that if I was going to put my eggs into one basket, I'd put them in the European one because when we get to a proper team in the domestic tournament we know we will get beaten and for me, Aston Villa deserve to be travelling through Europe - it is where we belong.
But, it is just a preference thing but I would be interested to know what the feeling is, so I've put up a poll but please remember that O'Neill doesn't do half way in terms of squad rotation, for him, playing the reserves, is very much all or nothing, there is no resting one or two players here and there. So, the option for both is just an ideal scenario and is never likely to happen, because well, it just isn't and you really only can pick one.
Answer the poll this way; what would you prefer, a Carling Cup final or a Europa League final? Try not to think too much about the details, just what you would prefer.