As Dean Smith plays out these final matches, it’s clear he’s taking a long look at what he’s got and basically auditioning the squad in advance of the summer. I’m not expecting him to unearth any surprises, as I’m pretty sure they know what they’ve got. But, you keep faith with your players by giving them every chance to finish what they started. And there’ll be some big decisions to make. It’s a tricky moment. Stalwarts and ever-presents may becomes substitutes in three months.
Naturally, United supporters forcing a postponement of the Liverpool fixture was the week’s biggest news, even eclipsing the Duke of Edinburgh’s visit to Bodymoor Heath to open the new Performance Center. But of course the delay in the match had to be filled with talking, and, as is his wont, Souness wouldn’t be denied the opportunity to open his mouth and say stupid things about Jack Grealish. I’ve taken the bait.
Well, they’ve gone and done it. Fearful of their lock on the top places and Champions League money, the owners of Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal, and Tottenham Hotspur have decided they like guaranteed money and a closed shop rather than competition and the football pyramid. It’s a greed- and fear-driven move for which all the adjectives have been used: Shameful, disgraceful, disgusting, grotesque, outrageous, cynical…there’s plenty more. I’d add this: It’s an asshole move.
One of the criticisms in Jack’s absence is along the lines of “Villa don’t have much to show for £250 million.” Which is a tad unfair, I think. We are still sitting 10th with just 10 to play. So, once again, a little perspective on where that money went, and why, to me, it’s nothing like what it seems.
Unfortunately, over the years and decades of football in almost every country, the innocence and spontaneity of the game is slowly being whittled away. Strict adherence to a manager’s tactics make the game more stilted. The biggest detriment? VAR.