Rome wasn’t built in a day and the ‘eternal city’ famous for its passion and history makes it one of the most important cities in the world. Still drawing people to its charm and unique story. However, if like me, your love affair belongs to a place that holds less than 1.5% of the Italian capital and is adorned with a mosaic of claret, blue and gold (itself designed by an Italian) then you will understand how long the process is going to be for our very own leader.
Right now we are staring into the horizon, looking ahead to a critical time in the history of the club. Do we fight back or merely exist amongst other fallen giants?
Just over a year since the new era began under Dr Tony Xia, it has been a story of learning from mistakes, flashes of what could be and battle our own demons with panic in the ranks and upheaval amongst the followers.
We have seen a change of manager to a past enemy, streaks of prosperity and worrying spells of form. Courage and spirit from players once berated and others who have yet to show the potential we believe they have from their past exploits.
This week I carefully read the comments of the latest recruit to the Aston Villa ranks. Luke Organ was appointed the new Chief Commercial Officer. Mr Organ has a rich and varied history himself, working with different sporting ventures with plenty of success stories. He worked with the Women’s Tennis Association, Lotus F1 Team and went on to bring some of the biggest brands and organisations to a sport that was arguably on its knees. Most recently, our new man worked with Wasps, a team synonymous with success in the past and has taken them from nearly ceasing to exist, to a team competing on all fronts at the top end of their sport.
Many will point out the impressive CV’s of some of our previous employees and say they have heard this all before. Yet I feel a freshness and a frankness in how Mr Organ presented himself during his introduction.
- Season ticket sales are looking positive.
- A largely positive response to the newly proposed kits (yes know they will be claret and blue).
- Improvements to the stadium and access to purchasing tickets.
These are just a few of the areas covered in the first interview. So after reading it and thinking carefully about what we could improve and maintain, I’m hoping to see some of the following blended into the mix.
We are often mocked for our references to history as opposed to where we are right now. Yet it is a story and a sense of pride found in everyone who travels to Villa Park or pulls on the claret and blue.
You only have to look at the ground to see the elements of what makes Aston Villa the special club that it is. No one deserves the divine right to be seen and expect to be the best domestically and even around the world. It’s a whole series of factors that constantly need to be updated, refreshed and thought out to ensure growth with the times we live in. But one selling point that we should continue to work upon and maintain is our history in reference to the stadium, past players, staff and supporters.
Bringing back former players who have played in the famous claret and blue and including the likes of Brian Little and Ian Taylor in decision making have been all too welcome and it was seriously lacking before. We have an affinity to our past heroes and we have a love and respect to those we have lost. The way we honour our loved ones each season and the comradery we display to support our peers is second to none. So focusing on this and the importance of Aston Villa as a ‘family’ is crucial.
An awful lot of opposition fans will refer to Villa Park as one of their favourite stadiums due to its architecture and originality as opposed to the modern ‘bowl’ feel. Having spoken to others, there are some areas that could push the stadium and business side further. Match day shopping can be frustrating and take far too long. Why not add in small stocks of shirts and other merchandise in the stands themselves? I often see gambling kiosks barely used. Let’s add a little claret and blue to them!
Safe standing is a contentious issue and it’s not my place to say what we should do at this moment in time but again, others I have spoken to have expressed their frustrations at how they can be discouraged from standing or making noise at points that do not affect others around them. I want to see a Holte End that can get close to what it was. I’m too young to fully remember standing, I was a mere child when my dad took me to the final game against Liverpool before it was redeveloped. I still remember nights like Atletico Madrid and the 3-2 turn around against Arsenal’s illustrious side. Recapturing some of those atmospheres would mean the world to me and many others.
As a teacher by trade, I want to see more links with the wider community, giving our children the best opportunities and match day experiences. Pushing to make our children be proud of where they are from and the identity and importance of supporting local teams. I have experienced visitors to several schools I’ve worked in. Frustratingly, from other Midlands clubs and beyond.
More interaction with the fans. I have been impressed with little changes such as the pre-match warm up having elements that take place practically on the front row and players and staff acknowledging and actually talking to us as humans which again I haven’t seen for some time.
Dr Tony has clearly got a job to do and I honestly feel he’s chipping away bit by bit. Surrounding himself with people who care and have the knowledge of what it takes is a great start. The interaction on Twitter, love it or hate it has been both entertaining and refreshing in regards to journalists not being able to say anything back.
Finally, the one thing that I think will make a huge difference this season if possible, is the full backing and support of us as fans. We clearly have the right to our opinions but unfortunately, some are too quick to criticise and throw their problems straight to the wrong people. If we want to pride ourselves on being a club to look up to and be proud of, then we should be leading the way.
It will take all of us collectively and time. But hopefully, it won’t be long until the story has a positive chapter added and the famous claret and blue are firmly back on the map.