Are we waving, or drowning?

Taking the temperature of the threads on these pages over the last 72 hours, we're split right down the middle.

Many seem to believe that Villa is a rudderless ship, lacking vision or direction. The commenters in that camp stress that we have neither a goalkeeper nor a manager, and highlight the rumour (and it is no more) that potential managers have been scared off by the lack of any transfer budget at Villa Park.


They look at the fact that, for the third close season in a row, we have sold our (arguably) best player - and, rightly, they question the ambition of the club which means so much to them.

Fuel is added to their fire by the fact that the manager of a Premier League also-ran has opted to fight another relegation battle in front of a taxi-full of fans rather than join a club which has won the European Cup.

On the other side, there's a large body of fellow fans who urge a bit of karma. They have faith in Randy Lerner and - perhaps rightly, perhaps not - stress that it's still June and the Chairman and his board need to take time to assess the situation and make sure that they don't rush into a panic signing.

Their view is founded on the belief that Villa can, and will, attract a top name manager in time - and that if the managerial signing is right, the right players will follow.

I don't know - I honestly don't. We're either just treading water calmly, and waving to the shore in the full knowledge that everything will be sorted before July comes. Or we're struggling to keep our head above water, and throwing our arms around wildly in the hope that someone, anyone, might haul us out before we go under.

I have no idea which camp I belong in. Randy Lerner has never seen fit to describe his Vision for our club in any more than the dull and repetitive assurances about "heritage" and "history" which Krulak and his PR department spin out at every opportunity.

It's getting dull, though, and it's getting irritating. I don't need to be reminded of my club's history and heritage. I do need some reassurance, however, that the people who run the club want it to win the European Cup again. I want my children, who have been season ticket holders at Aston Villa since they were knee high to Peter Beardsley, to be able to hold their heads up at their school in the midst of all their mates who, boringly but predictably, wear United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal shirts. I just want us to be great again.

Can Randy Lerner make us great again? I don't know. But I have a feeling the next few weeks will be absolutely decisive for him. Marc Albrighton was pushed in front of the Sky Sports cameras today to talk about Young's move to Manchester United.

On one level, we'll all agree that Marc will now have the chance to prove he's a better winger than Ash (and he may well be). On the other hand, there's a more sinister undercurrent which, to me, suggests that the £20m Randy has pocketed for Young won't be made available for new signings.

I think Randy Lerner has realised that an English Premier League Club is a money pit. I think he's drawing his horns in, and I think he's doing it aggressively. I think Paul Faulkner's job is to balance the books, and there's sense in that, I suppose.

But to me, it suggests we'll be battling it out next season with Fulham, Everton and Sunderland for seventh place. Sure, we may have a bit of a run in the Carling Cup. But without vision, without clear ambition, and without the money to back both of those - we're an also-ran and we'll stay an also-ran.

It hurts. But that's just the way it is, as Bruce Hornsby and The Range said. Some things will never change.