Before I start this post, I’d like to say there are some very very good journalists who report on the Villa and it’s always a pleasure to read their articles on the club. If you’re on Twitter, regularly following Villa information, you will know who these guys are.
I was struggling to think about what to write in my post this week to be honest: after the Malaga game on Saturday it’s been a fairly slow week for Villa news. I was going to write about how utterly stupid these mid-week international friendlies are. To hold them three days before the club seasons starts is absolutely mental. However, they’re being stopped from the start of next season so ranting any further about that would be a waste of time.
Then, thankfully, a rumour cropped up on Twitter, as rumours generally do almost daily. However, this one, I believe, originated from a well known national sports radio station. The rumour was that Villa manager Paul Lambert had turned down the opportunity to take former Villa skipper Gareth Barry on loan from Manchester City. Now IF this were true then it would be something I’d believe. Why on earth would Paul Lambert take Gareth Barry, a 32 year old midfielder who in reality would offer us little other than experience? It goes completely against everything that Paul Lambert has done so far. If Lambert were to take Barry on, it would mean him holding a place in the starting XI or match day squad over the likes of Ashley Westwood, Fabian Delph, Yac Sylla and Gary Gardner, slowing their progress. No thank you, Gareth. I’m sure they will take you on at the Hawthorns: they like their pre retirement age footballers. Barry would offer us experience but, come on, seriously? Is that even an argument still? Experience has done nothing for us for three seasons and all it will do now is slow us down. The “kids” saved us last season, they have “experience” now so don’t worry about “experience”. Argument void. Don’t even mention it to me: I’ll consider you a moron and send you to bed without your dinner.
Anyway, that little story refreshed my memory of all the completely daft stories written about Villa this summer (and throughout history, but I don’t have all year). Most of them emerged during the Benteke saga, it must be said. Does nobody outside Birmingham pay any attention to what Villa do and say? Obviously we’re not a “fashionable” club like Spurs but some of the stories written over the past couple of months have gone against absolutely everything Villa have stood for under Lambert and contradicted what representatives of the club said during the whole episode.
Towards the end of last season, when the Benteke rumours really started to kick off, Villa more or less said: “Christian Benteke is not for sale. If we were to even consider selling him it would be for a price we set and absolutely nothing less. He has 3 years to run on his contract, he’s our player and unless you want to spend £30 million plus on him, he’ll remain our player.” Like I said, more or less. This message was reiterated throughout the summer.
Now despite this message being loud and clear, coming from everyone within the club, it was translated by certain sections of the press as: “We don’t want to sell Benteke but we’d accept bids around 15 – 20 million plus a selection from Scott Parker, Tom Huddlestone, Jermain Defoe or Demba Ba”.
Stories and rumours such as that popped up almost daily until Benteke signed his new contract with the club. What I think is worse is that quite a lot of Villa fans believed the nonsense! It was almost portrayed like we were a non-league club fending off interest from Real Madrid!
In the end, laughably, Villa didn’t receive ANY formal bids for Benteke, despite large portions of the media reporting that we were batting away offers multiple times a day. Not only were the non-existent offers so far off Villa’s real and well known valuation of their star striker but they made it clear that much of the press didn’t have a clue what they were talking about. That’s not surprising though, is it?
It wasn’t just the Benteke saga that was reported so poorly either. What has Villa’s transfer policy been for the past 12 months? Generally, young, relatively unknown, ambitious, level-headed and cheap players have come in. I don’t like the word cheap: it implies the players we’ve signed aren’t that good because they weren’t worth as much. I’m sorry, maybe this would be an unpopular opinion but I’d take a team of £750,000 Lowtons over a team of £15 million Wilfred Zahas any day of the week. However, in terms of the fees paid, in the current football climate, they were cheap, their wages especially. It’s always been my view of Lambert and Lerner that should the right player come along, who is on fair wages, that a transfer fee wouldn’t be an issue, within reason obviously.
Now despite that being our ever-so-apparent policy on bringing in new players, why on earth do national newspapers and the like keep linking us with aging players like Gareth Barry and Scott Parker or younger players on ridiculous wages with bad reputations like Belhanda? IT … MAKES … NO … SENSE …
What’s worse, like I said earlier, is that people believe this tripe then moan about the club and manager when it doesn’t happen. I’m sorry, if you read it and believe it you deserve to feel your unsubstantiated disappointment because you’re daft.
Let’s not get started on the Twitter ITKs and the people who believe them, shall we? Oxygen thieves. I believe there are one or two people on Twitter who genuinely get told things occasionally, probably just as a passing comment in a conversation they have with friends who may work at, or with, the club. However, these people never claim to be ‘In The Know’.
Here is the thing, you see: Villa, Paul Lambert, Randy Lerner, Paul Faulkner and the like don’t tell many people things; it’s how they do their business to the best of my knowledge, my knowledge being common sense and observing what’s happened before. That is why nobody has heard of the majority of the signings made by Lambert until around 12 hours before they sign.
So if you buy and read the newspapers or go on well known sports news websites, please realise 99% of their stories are either complete lies or a truth bent and contorted to their own needs. If you still believe what they say, especially regarding Villa, after all these years and experience of their rubbish, then I pity you, honestly I do.
A little side note going back to what I was talking about earlier: Tottenham, Arsenal, Athletico Madrid, Chelsea and whoever else was apparently interested, if it is true you ever had an interest in Benteke, which I don’t see why you wouldn’t, if you didn’t go past an enquiry because you thought £30 million was too much, wait until next summer, he’ll be worth double that. Unlucky. Oooooohhhhh, Christian Benteke!
Thank you for reading.