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How Can £40m Make No Difference?

This week’s instalment of Aston Villa Blog’s partnership with fellow fan site Aston Villa Life has been sent in by editor and guest blogger Matt Turvey and is based around the truth behind the finances at the club and why the money recuperated from the sales of Young and Downing has not been spent.

As all Villa fans are aware, we sold two major players in the summer in the form of both Ashley Young and Stewart Downing.  However, when you look at the problems Villa face, it is indicative that problems lie deeper than simple short term cash injections can solve.

Why?  Well if the problems were of the nature that were resolved with a sudden spending of liquid cash, then we wouldn’t have any of the issues we are currently facing.  What we need to face up to is that the problems lie deeper than what cash can genuinely solve on it’s own.

You see, our problems lie in the wage bill.  A problem far less easily shifted than selling your best players.  Great players are a problem everyone wants to have, even if it means you are selling them every year like we have been.  Great players are, by definition, great.  Give me 11 wantaway Stewart Downings every day over 11 Habib Beyes.

People might consider that an insane statement.  Why, after all, would anyone want players at their club who want to leave.  Doesn’t that put them in the lurch?

In an ideal world, we wouldn’t lose any of our best players and would grow stronger and stronger.  However, football is, by it’s very nature, a transitory market.  Players don’t compete in anywhere near the same length of time as you or I would in a “normal” job.  Whilst you and I might be competing to earn money at 50 or 60, you won’t see Darren Bent playing for a team at that age.

The cynics amongst us will, perhaps rightly, state that Darren Bent doesn’t NEED to play football at 50 when he is picking up a reported £90k a week at Villa.  Much the same as I imagine most of us wouldn’t be considering hauling our backsides out of bed at 7 in the morning when we are 60 unless we really had to do so.
Anyway, I digress.  The point I am making is that having good players is a great situation to be in.  The problem, quite obviously, comes when your great players leave and you are left with a bunch of players you can’t shift for love nor money.

Now, before anyone angrily reacts suggesting that I am saying every player is useless at the club, and that we should all arrange a group suicide pact, this is not at all what I am suggesting.  What I am saying is that we have overpaid players.  We have far too many of them, whether they are playing or not.  The problems aren’t just indigenous to those obvious candidates such as Habib Beye either.  They are just as relevant when you look at overpaying players who do well.

Take for example, Darren Bent.  Nobody doubts that he is a good player, and he scores goals.  However, he is being paid twice as much as what Luka Modric is being paid.  Is Darren Bent twice the player of Modric?  No, I don’t think so either.

So, we’re not getting out of this situation easily and, for some of us, it may have to mean a period where we don’t delude ourselves with Champions League aspirations, for a while at least.

The future may be bright, but only if we allow ourselves to be patient.

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