Dave Woodhall on hectic days at Villa Park and a less than frantic friendly at Bescot.
The biggest stories sometimes spring up from nowhere, and sometimes they fizzle out back there as well. The one about Thierry Henry taking over at the Villa was a case in point.
It appeared, took on a life of its own, and culminated in a back page headline that said the former player had agreed to let Villa be the first step on his managerial career. Then Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens arrived at Villa Park and almost the first thing they did was to give their support to Steve Bruce, to provide some stability in what has been a volatile situation.
I have to say that while it’s tempting to think that Henry might have been able to transfer his footballing genius (I’ve seen two opposing players get a standing ovation from Villa supporters after running rings round us – him and Johan Cruyff) to management, in the cold, practical, light of day, they’ve made the right decision. I read a good point last week – if you have a Steve Bruce squad then Steve Bruce should manage it. In the normal course of events, Bruce should have gone the day after the play-off final, but these are not normal days. Maybe the reason he stayed was because Keith Wyness knew there’d be no-one left to bring in a replacement.
Whatever the reason, Bruce is still the Villa manager. As thing stand he’s just about the only figure left at the club who has any sort of football nous and if he did go today, the question had to be – who would be making the decision to replace him? The new owners might turn out to be the best thing we’ve witnessed since the Holy Trinity of McGregor, Ramsay and Rinder, but at the moment they’re totally inexperienced when it comes to running a football club and have no-one to help them. With the short-term future now secured we have to bring in players and we’ve got a fortnight until the transfer window shuts.
We can’t afford to waste any time hiring, firing then letting the new man assess what he’s already got. But having said that, I don’t for one moment think that they’ll put up with any excuses. Steve Bruce might be safe at the moment but he’d be wise not to be making any long-term plans.
Messrs Sawiris and Edens turned up at Villa Park with little fanfare and minus the big talk that’s accompanied the last two changes of ownership. There was no talk of world domination, no promises to paint the world claret and blue. In their place there was an understanding of the club and supporters, and a quiet determination to put right the wrongs of the past decade. A top quality CEO and a proper backroom team will be installed, the hundred little things that combined to make one huge problem will start to be repaired. They aim to get Villa walking again before they start to run. And if Steve Bruce can’t keep up, he’ll be gone. I can’t really argue with that.
There was also a match on Wednesday evening. A few thousand turned up at Bescot to watch the dawn of the new era in a friendly against West Ham. Villa were strictly second best and a late goal from Andre Green was the only bright spot in a 3-1 defeat. If a couple of wins against teams from a lower division were nothing to get excited about, the defeat to one from a higher level should equally be no cause for despondency. But it did highlight the need for half a dozen new faces while we still can. I wonder if Theirry Henry was watching on YouTube?