That was quite a ride, wasn’t it? The European Super League’s short, abominable, and controversial life lasted about 48 hours. It ended in an ignominious and rather churlish fashion in the face of widespread outrage, condemnation, and fan unity.
Which doesn’t mean these same people won’t come back to us with Round 3 now that they’ve probed the perimeter and assessed the defenses. John Henry’s crocodile tears and claims of naïveté were a bit rich and insulting. Managing to make your mouth form the word “sorry” insincerely…Not sure how much that’s going to count for in the Kop.
How serious was this particular foray? Hard to tell. I’m sure they wanted what they were asking for, but the shambolic withdrawal seems to say it wasn’t necessarily a full-on assault, ie, something everyone’s hearts were fully committed to. In the end, it seemed a bit like trench warfare: rush no-man’s land, get met with artillery barrage, and sneak back to your lines. Nothing has really changed besides learning what you’re up against. One assumes they might not have expected universal condemnation and anger, but that seems more than just dense.
However, the statement of continued intent to change things does pretty strongly indicate it wasn’t just a lark.
There are things about football that are broken, yes. The ESL wasn’t really meant to address any of them. So while we await the inevitable follow-up attack, the Premier League, UEFA, and FIFA have a chance to get their acts together and do something proactively good for the game to eliminate this sort of needless distress, and enact guarantees that will make it impossible for them to try this again.
Sadly, perhaps the most important part will be negotiations over the next television contract for the PL.
And of course, we all remember Round 1, when these same clubs tried to take over the Premier League last year. Both times, the pretext was the good of the game, financial health for all, blah, blah, blah. Transparently self-serving, and utterly shameless. I’m not sure what they expected, but can these clowns really misjudge things so badly again and again?
Anyway, a victory for the supporters, if nothing else, and a reminder that they aren’t going to hand over their clubs without a fight.
Tonight, of course, an undermanned Villa will host one of the more tepid traitors, the Sky Blue Manchester Team. I read Chelsea seemed to be going through the motions while all this was swirling round, and as I write, Spurs are trailing The Saints 0-1 at the half.
City, on the other hand, may not be sheepish or subdued. Even though the players had no say, they could very well want to prove they are indeed a super club at the first time of asking following this debacle.
So Villa have a tough task on hand. City on the hunt down the stretch are a big ask already. I’m going to go out on a limb here and repeat myself again, saying Villa will try to nick a goal with every intention of riding it out. I’m sure we’d be quite happy with 0-0, as well.
At the same time, we’ll see how motivated our squad is by not being considered a big club. This would obviously be my focus in the pregame: go out, leave absolutely everything on the pitch, and show them you’re not cowed.
The trick is doing it over the apparently ridiculously overlong period of 90 minutes and after everyone under 30 will have tuned out.
Trez’s energy and effort will be a big miss tonight. No idea whether Ross gets another chance to redeem himself, and even less confidence he can. I’d expect Emi will need to make at least a couple world-class saves. And we may well see at least one kid on the bench, given Trez’s absence.
I’d also think we’ll see Nakamba and Luiz with McGinn further forward to start. But maybe Ramsey gets the call and SJM sits further back with Douglas. We don’t exactly have a lot of options at this point. Can Ghazi do anything? It would help if he didn’t insist on running into cul-de-sacs. Don’t mind seeing him drive into box, we’ll want to see that if he starts, but he doesn’t quite have Jack’s guile and skill.
All of this presumes, of course, that Deano doesn’t change things up by somehow getting Davis on the pitch to start. I just don’t see it, but we’ll know by the time I’ve got this posted.
Anyway, not expecting much, but I’d like to see some pride, fight, and desperation out there tonight.
Over to you.