When Martin O'Neill arrived at Villa Park and made his first signings, I ran a cheeky(ish) piece suggesting that his "Buy English" policy might have had something to do with his designs on the England manager's job.
It's no secret that O'Neill wants the job. He's been interviewed for it twice, I thin and we all know that when he wants something, he tends not to give up (Milner is a great example.)
I wouldn't blame O'Neill for having half an eye on his next career move. After all, most of us do the same thing every day. And I hadn't even given a thought to my previous article until I looked at Fabian Delph's comments on joining Villa.
He quotes Martin O'Neill's record, specifically, in "developing young English players" as a major incentive for him to join us instead of City, Everton or Spurs.
Now I think that's nice.
But is there something else at play here? The times we've seen O'Neill act with either real opportunism or real aggression in the transfer market have all been when the treasure chest of young English talent has been opened. Ashley Young, James Milner - and now Fabian Delph. Here we've seen a manager infamous for fiddling around and procrastinating in the transfer market spend well over the odds for largely unproven youngsters.
Go beyond that, and it gets better. O'Neill's bought fringe England players like Reo-Coker, Sidwell and Luke Young - presumably backing himself and his coaching team to get the best out of them and turn them into full England internationals. With one exception, in my view, that's not working yet - but who's to say that with Barry gone Sidwell and Reo-Coker won't step up to the plate. Competition from new boy Delph will certainly help, if help were needed with motivation.
I just wonder. We know he wants the England job, and we know he's failed in interviews before. Perhaps the strategy - and he is a strategist and he is a winner - is to surround himself with so many of the future England generation that the FA has no choice but to give him the job.
Maybe a totally daft view. But there could be something in it, couldn't there?