I can't speak for everyone I've never met, but you get that feeling that Martin O'Neill is a nice guy don't you? I mean, he comes across as an honest bloke, who wants to tell you more than he is and I fancy you could sit down with him and enjoy a bottle of wine or a glass or two of whiskey.
In fact I'd go so far to write, that if you got him talking about something he was passionate about, like everyone, he'd talk and talk and if you are in the mood, there is nothing nicer than talking to someone who is passionate about something.
You see, there are a few common denominators in life that you can generally live by as rules of exactly how people are going to act or be like. Don't worry, I'm going to give you some examples and if you were wondering why I've gone this route today, you can blame Emma. I can't tell you anything about Emma as I fear I could get into trouble, but it was Emma who started me off on this and some of you will know who she is.
So, to my examples. If you go back to the caveman era and put a spear and needle and thread in front of the man and woman of the cave, who would pick up what? We all know the answer, much like we all know if you put the same couple in a pub in 1999 and put a pint of lager and a vodka and tonic down, who would pick up what, like it was second nature. Don't pretend you don't know.
It's much like, we all know what would happen if you put a kid in a sweet shop. Well, the exact same could be said about football managers with money. If they have it, they will spend it. The thing is, Martin O'Neill is on a budget and he's as good as said we can't compete with the top four financially and he's as good as made it impossible to attract any real quality this summer.
Or was it, as someone may write in the comments, a trick to make other clubs think we don't have money. Come on, please.
We have been up there all season, never out of the top six. But we are in the same league as Manchester United, who have gates of 75,000 and are a different entity. We are in there against Arsenal, who house 60,000 fans every home game.
Then we are against the other two (Liverpool and Chelsea), who have our sort of gates but not only have the experience behind them but a lot of money to go at it as well. We won't be able to compete financially. We are trying to run this as a business at this minute. That is difficult, especially in this day and age.Martin O'Neill, Sky Sports Website April 20th 2009
For the record, Chelsea and Liverpool are in debt. We could compete with them for a top four place next season if, this summer, our owner invested £150mn. into the club specifically for players.
But as Martin O'Neill points out, it is a business and we are trying to run it as a business. Remind you of anyone? I thought we were getting change when Lerner came in. What exactly has changed if he, the billionaire owner, isn't willing to put some of his money in as a real investment for the future?
Don't get me wrong, the free coaches were nice, the way he threw 400 people out of the Trinity was needed, Bodymoor Heath was also nice and Tom Hanks holding up a Villa scarf made my year, but we will never break the top four if we are going to run the football club like a corner shop. Sorry, that was wrong, what I mean is, our owner needs to take some risks.
There is a balance but if all you ever do is try to balance every season or for the next season, it is not going to happen. Chelsea, they say, will be self sufficient in ten years time and Manchester United are self sufficient. Arsenal, I may be wrong here, but are they not even profitable? If they're not, they certainly are self sufficient. I'm not going to talk about Liverpool, it's the same story.
My point is, you make more money playing in the Champions League. Not just in TV money, but shirt deals and club sponsors and ticket sales. But you can not get there balancing the books every season. Lerner has to put in his own cash and it has to be sufficient to get to the top four and if it isn't, he can't give up, he has to do it again the following season and eventually it will happen.
When it happens, he will eventually be paid back, but he can't expect it to be short term thing, it has to be a long term thing; after all it is a business and we've been told on several occassions Lerner didn't buy Aston Villa to make money.
Sorry, about that. I didn't find any rumours only lots of what O'Neill said yesterday and like I said, blame Emma, she started me off with the 'like a kid in a sweet shop' line and if I didn't talk about this, I was going to talk about 4-5-1 - which would you have preferred?