Finally, after weeks of uncertainty in some quarters regarding the takeover, we have confirmation of Dr Tony Xia as our new owner and chairman to add the appointment of Roberto Di Matteo. Keith Wyness is expected to be announced as the new chief executive and he will work alongside the new owner, Di Matteo and his experienced background staff that includes Steve Clarke. Seeing these appointments, Xia’s story at Aston Villa has already hooked the readers.
The opening of any story is important. From his words, it seems that Dr Tony Xia has boosted most fans and will enjoy a positive start to his regime at Villa Park. It’s early days but I loved watching the videos from the Villa Facebook page of Roberto Di Matteo and Dr Xia walking around Villa Park and checking out the stadium. I think I actually smiled my first Villa related smile in some time when I saw these images. Being a Villa fan, as we all know, mostly involved anger and unhappiness in the latter stages of the Lerner period. However, to see the new owner and manager at the club and on that pitch brings me hope that this is the start of something special for us. We will either look back on this week fondly or with regret. It is time for Aston Villa Football Club to sink or swim.
Listening to the media conference yesterday, all three men at the table seemed upbeat and willing to get Aston Villa Football Club back to its rightful position. I don’t know much about Keith Wyness but, from what he said and from his days at Everton, he might be a decent piece of business. The jury is still out on him as we still aren’t sure what he can do for us in the long run. Di Matteo and Xia both expressed their desire to forget the pass and instead look to the promising future. No one said that they could promise promotion in the first season but they all looked pretty certain that the aim of being promoted was within the reach of the club, which hopefully means that the players on the radar are up to that task. Talking about a promising future is great but now words need to be turned into actions. I hope that these three men, and other additions to the board, can make the future we want happen.
Some stories have twists and turns and we may find that out sooner than we would have liked. A year ago, Tim Sherwood had entered the scene and promised to rebuild the team. He had to buy lots of players to do so, as we all remember the team that narrowly avoided relegation and lost to Arsenal in the FA Cup final in 2015. It was a team that had little, if any, hope of getting hold of that trophy. Benteke, Delph and Vlaar then departed, leaving an almost shapeless team. Sherwood brought in around players to add to the squad. At times, we didn’t even have any players who had featured in the FA Cup final on the pitch durning the 2015-16 season, showing how many changes had been rung. For Roberto Di Matteo, it’s a similar story: he has to rebuild this team almost from scratch. No matter how much money he has to play with, he needs to buy quality, not quantity. If that means his focus is on a few key acquisitions I will be happy. If he buys the sort of expensive rubbish that we have seen before then we will be looking behind us again. If, come January, being promoted at the end of the 2016-17 campaign isn’t looking realistic, the manager will need to concentrate on having positive players for the next three years or so otherwise we will be left with more dead wood. This is why I’m deeply concerned going into the start of the new season. I have no wish to be negative but the Championship is a different league in more ways than one and I want to be sure that we will have players in place who will fight for the club and for promotion.
The focus of the new owner and manager should be giving the Villans a fighting chance of gaining a promotion place by the summer of 2017. I really do believe that if Xia’s story builds on its engaging opening throughout the summer and into next season that the first chapter will have a positive ending. The time of false narratives is, we hope, over. It’s time for positive action now.