I want it all and I want it now

I live in the north of Gloucestershire and I want to tell you about the shopkeeper in our village, a guy called Pat. Pat's a Mancunian. And he's a City fan.

The thing is, I'm surprised by Pat. I would have thought that he'd be quivering with excitement at the amazing developments at Eastlands. I would have expected him, every time I go into his store to buy a 4-pack of Stella and a couple of bottles of red, to be full of it. Full of the massive star signings and the seemingly endless transfer budget.


But he's not. He's actually quite distraught, is our Pat. And the reason is, he's not quite sure who or what he supports any more. He's been a City fan for 40 years, and he loves the culture, heritage and history of the club. He enjoys the quirkiness and eccentricity of supporting Manchester's second club, and everything associated with it.

It's a wonderfully English point of view. Pat has always hated United and their fans, and he detests the fact that half the kids in our Cotswold village "support" United. As if they could even locate Manchester on a map of the British Isles.

The really interesting thing is this.

Pat has confessed that he is immensely jealous of me as a Villa fan. A bit bizarre, as I would love Martin O'Neill to have Mark Hughes' budget. But that's what he said.

And the reason is this, according to him: Villa are a British football club with a British manager who are trying to build for the future. Villa haven't chucked away their history or culture in a mad dash for immediate success. On the contrary, their owner (Randy) has been careful to nurture, protect and encourage the club's heritage. That gives people something to stay faithful to.

Pat won't be able to take his kids to City any more on the four or five occasions each season that he has the chance. That's because the prices will be ridiculous and the vast majority of seats, just like Stamford Bridge, will be taken up by wealthy entertainers with little idea of real football.

I know that many commenters on this site will disagree vehemently. But if you have half a brain, you will look at the Premier League stats and see how often the title has been "bought". Blackburn, once. Chelsea, once. Key word: once.

Pat's comments have a real resonance with me. I'm grateful that I support a club with a sense of its heritage. I'm happy to support a club with a longer-term vision. In a really weird way, I'd rather have Stewart Downing than Wesley Sneijder.

I don't want it all, and I don't want it now. I want Villa to stay Villa. I want us to creep back up to the top where we really belong, but I'm prepared to accept that it will take many seasons of excellent chairmanship and managership.

Or, we could sack O'Neill and bring in Harry Redknapp. Now he's real fun in the transfer window..........!!!!