We're moving a bit away from statistics this week, since most people probably don't want to think about Aston Villa's on-pitch product right now.
The amount of money that Aston Villa have been linked to in various transfer rumours. That includes £6 million for Joleon Lescott, £2 million for Nahki Wells, and £1.5 million for Wes Hoolahan. Of course, those numbers could be totally wrong. Paul Lambert may not have made any of those offers, or in those amounts. And it doesn't even count what Villa would be willing to offer for FC Porto's Steven Defour. But I think the specifics of the number are pretty irrelevant.
That number there at least seems plausible (though many of us balked at the idea of a £6 million fee for an aging defender), and that should tell us something: Villa have more money to spend than we anticipated. I think most of us came into this transfer window expecting maybe one big(ish) splash and not much else. The alternative was a bunch of Paul Lambert specials: small moves that improve the club incrementally without costing too much. At this point, maybe £1.5 or £2 million is change in football, but it says something that the club are willing to offer seven figures for numerous players. Nothing has happened yet, but Lambert and Lerner obviously realize that something needs to be done to help the club and re-secure the support of the fans. I don't think the last three weeks of this month will be boring at all.
The number of days of rest the team will have had when they take the pitch against Arsenal on Monday. A much-needed break for a club that just finished 10 matches in 41 days. The past two years have seen Villa look terrible in December. Yes, other clubs have to put up with the same fixture congestion during the winter, but it seems as if Aston Villa have had a uniquely difficult time of coping with it. And I'm not really sure what the reasons for that are. "Maybe Paul Lambert could do better in rotating his players," is the first idea that comes to mind. But looking at Aston Villa's injury situation, he hasn't had much to work with in terms of rotations.
"Well then, perhaps he could do a better job of building squad depth." It seems as if the January window would be the perfect time to do that, but despite the numbers above if Lambert is to make a splashy move, it may limit the number of smaller depth-oriented signings he can make.
Without a good answer to the December woes in sight, the good news is that the fixture list is becoming easier to manage. In the 41 days beginning with Monday's match, Villa only have 6 matches (7 if you're willing to fudge it by one day). So hopefully, like last year, things will look up now that we've got December behind us.
The average attendance, as a percent of capacity, at Villa Park this season. This is only counting Premier League matches. It's remarkable to me that, despite the absolutely atrocious home form, fans have still been coming out and largely filling Villa Park to watch the team play. I don't really have much to add to this one, but the idea of support leads me pretty nicely to...
The number of years since Aston Villa have won a significant trophy, the 1996 League Cup. I didn't agree with all of the outrage directed at Paul Lambert over his FA Cup comments, but I think this number gives us a bit of perspective as to why it happened. Aston Villa aren't one of Europe's best clubs at this point, nor have they been for quite a while. But there is a long and incredibly successful history behind this club. Aston Villa have won the League Cup 5 times (good for second all-time) and the FA Cup 7 (good to be tied with Chelsea and Liverpool for fourth).
Lambert and the Fans
How do you feel about the club now?
With Aston Villa out of the FA Cup, where do you think they stand? Vote and let us know.
Lambert and the Fans
And in theory, the ultimate point of watching a sport is to see a team lift a trophy. I'll admit, it's a bit odd to me, as a sports fan raised in the United States, that there are multiple chances for that in a season. Odd, but I love it. There's something really fun in knowing that if things don't work in one competition, there are others. My favorite NFL team, the Green Bay Packers, lost in the playoffs last weekend. Thus: no Super Bowl and no trophies for them. My favorite baseball team, the Seattle Mariners, is about to start spring training in a bit more than a month. Thus: no World Series for them, and no trophy. But even in those sports, you can at least root for division titles, and trips to the playoffs. They aren't trophies, but as a fan they still feel like some form of success.
But in football, even if your team isn't having a great season in League, they've got other places to go. And Villa fans haven't seen the club raise a trophy in 18 years. Instead, they've watched years of mostly mid-table mediocrity, aspiring to the heights of the Europa League where they would get knocked out early. If you want a fantastic take on this, check out this piece from 200%.
18 years is a long time. Aston Villa's trophy-less streak can now vote, and is legally an adult. And that's where the frustration comes from. Villa fans haven't gotten to enjoy any of the spoils of being a fan lately. Nevertheless, I still firmly believe that this club are better positioned now to end that drought than they were two years ago. It's the unfortunate nature of football today that the money provided simply by being in the Premier League is vital to a club's survival as a viable contender for hardware. Paul Lambert and Randy Lerner have undoubtedly made some poor decisions, but they've at least gotten the club in a financial position to ensure stability for years to come, and have a foundation on which trophy-winning teams can be built. That's why I didn't agree with all of the uproar last week. But I do understand where it's coming from.
(This number, of course, ignores the hugely important Intertoto Cup group stage victory in 2008 that Wikipedia lists among the club's honours. So perhaps I'm being a bit harsh.)
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