Season prediction: Forget about transition

I know I promised a little more activity on the blog a few weeks ago and for that, I should apologise, but to some extent I knew when making that statement that it wasn't going to happen. I was kidding myself.

I was kidding myself because I wanted to get excited and I wanted to believe again. And you know what, this blog isn't actually about that. I'm not here to speak over you and try to convince you that all is great or to blind you with optimism.


The truth is, we have a new manager and there is a sense that something is possible but to further that truth, it has never been more evident that in this league, you must buy success. Sure, football can get you so far, but to take you the rest of the way, you need a serious amount of cash and a very long term strategy.

Season prediction

So now, because the table is set and the season gets under way next week, this is going to be my season preview post and I have to explain that I've been wanting to write this for a while and one word has been tripping me up because the way I want to use that one word isn't going to be liked by some, because some are going to want to use it in exactly the way the club want you to think of it.

The word is 'transition' and the reason why I've struggled with this post is because some are going to use that word as an excuse if the football isn't great or results don't go our way or things go wrong and while I've used it in the past for those exact things, isn't it about time that we stopped looking for excuses?

Was it a transitional period for Roberto Di Matteo when he took control of Chelsea to go on an win the Champions League? Okay, you can argue that he knew the players and it's valid and it stands up and you could go one further to say that he'll possibly be the first manager sacked this season and that the transition didn't work, but my point is, why do we set ourselves up to accept second or third best?

Why can't we have set high expectations and fail rather than already line up the excuse that it is a transitional season? Is it wrong to think about what success would look like for us rather than look at what would be acceptable?

Hit the ground running, it happens you know

When did it become about mediocrity and why can't Paul Lambert finish in the top four this season with Aston Villa? Look what Harry Redknapp did at Spurs and look at what Alan Pardew did with Newcastle last season. Again, you can argue circumstance and players, but there is also an opposite position that you have to consider.

A great example of that is Gareth Bale; an average player with lots of potential before Redknapp came along and now someone that can easily command £100,000 a week and probably a lot more. He is just one example, but there are others and I'm only trying to point out that the manager played a pivotal role in the progress of the team.

Look at Newcastle. They had a fantastic season, but does anyone really believe it will happen again? Sure, they'll be a good side, but will they finish fifth? I doubt it and I'd be surprised if they finished in the top six. I'd also not be surprised if we are fighting it out with them at the end of the season for a place.

My head isn't in the clouds

I know some of you are going to think this post is pointless, but I'm getting to my prediction soon and I also know we're not going to finish in the top four and I don't think it isn't because the players don't want to, I think it's because as supporters we get what we want. Let me put that another way; we get what we think we deserve.

There is no surprise last season we flirted with the bottom three and there is no surprise that the season before that we had a good push at the end and finished ninth. Change takes time and some change will never work, but the key elements at Aston Villa are now in place. I'll go so far as to say that in terms of opportunity, under Randy Lerner, there has never been a better time.

But he has to support that too and I've long thought he has lost interest. I'm not sure he really ever had any real interest, but that is just my view and I don't expect everyone to see my reasoning, but I know some do.

I also think that Paul Lambert will give it a go more than the last manager and I also think he could be the catalyst to help supporters start to think more can happen and that is why I think we've got to scrap thinking this is a transitional season. In fact, we have to, because the way we think about it is wrong.

I want top six this season and with the players we have, I truly believe it is possible, but it takes the supporters believing it too. But I know that wont happen this season but I also think Paul Lambert knows we can finish in the top six, because if he gets us playing that way and the players start believing it too, you never know.

Prediction

So here we go; we'll finish eighth and if we get lucky, it will be seventh and castigate me all you want, but we have the players to do it and if you don't believe that, I'll default to my position that the manager is the most important member of the team and then if you think this manager can not get top six with this squad, we have other things to talk about, but that is also for another post.

Another Stella please mate, because I've now got to explain that there is a fair amount of blind optimism in this post. Lambert did well at Norwich but it doesn't mean he is going to do well with us. The next few months are going to be very interesting and this is a massive test for a manager with one Premier League season under his belt.