Fit to wear the shirt?

John Terry has joined Villa. Dave Woodhall talks morality and duplicity.

Well, it’s happened and we’ve seen John Terry in a Villa shirt. A couple of months ago it would have seemed outlandish, even now it doesn’t look right. But it’s happened, and we can only await the ultimate outcome.

Some Villa supporters aren’t happy with the signing and they’ve every right to protest. As I said last week, he’s not the most likable of individuals and you can argue that the money spent on his contract, even if it is only for twelve months, could have been better spent elsewhere. One thing Villa don’t seem to need is much doing to what was last season one of the best defences in the Championship. We’ll have to see whether Steve Bruce intends Terry to be a mainstay of the team or if he’s going to be the sort of player that can be brought on in the later stages of a game when the side are under pressure – a role that Joleon Lescott could have done for the past two years if he’d been bothered.

I said pretty much all that I could say about Terry last week and my opinion hasn’t changed much since then. I don’t like him, and now he’s ours I wish him all the best. As expected, he’s said all the right things (when was the last time a Villa player said with a straight face that their aim was to win the league?) and now he has to do them.

This signing has bright up something that I’ve long held – no matter what team you support,football fans tend to have double standards and at Villa we’re no different. We’ve cheered for drug addicts, woman beaters, drunk drivers and assorted hell-raisers. The Premier League is as morally-bankrupt and avaricious as it’s possible to be, yet Villa’s aims in the coming season will be solely about getting back in to it. We have a gambling company as a new shirt sponsor, our kits are made by a company with links to trophy hunting and the conditions of all football shirt manufacturers have long since been a subject of controversy.

We’re currently being bankrolled by an owner who made his money in China, a country infamous for human rights abuse and poor working conditions. Before him we had Randy Lerner, lauded when he was spending a large chunk of the family fortune on scarves, coaches and Marlon Harewood. Nobody seemed too worried that the family fortune came in the main from peddling credit cards to some of the poorest sections of American society.

I don’t claim that my particular moral standards are superior to those of anyone else. We all have our line in the sand; for some John Terry crosses that line, for others he doesn’t. Whether or not he does have particularly entrenched racist views, or any at all, is a question that probably only Terry knows the answer to. Footballers are a breed apart; if he had the choice of spending time with me, or any other white Villa supporter, or a black team-mate I’d be very surprised if Terry didn’t gravitate towards his fellow multi-millionaire.

If Jonathan Kodjia accepts Terry in the Villa team without a second thought, should the rest of us be outraged on Kodjia’s behalf? Paul McGrath was happy enough with the signing and what’s good enough for the greatest player any of us have ever seen should be good enough for us all. Or maybe not.

So many questions, and we’ll only know the answers next May. I’m still trying to get my head round the fact that last season seemed to have ended about a fortnight ago and next week we’ll be playing our first pre-season friendly.