Villa's 3-for-1 Transfer Approach & Invasion of the Drug Dogs
2-0 up. 15 minutes to go. Then you allow a team to score three goals in the space of five minutes…
Now you know why this is called astonvilla.wtf!
If this is the first time you’ve seen this in your inbox, you’ve already missed three editions of a newsletter that aims to simply give you nonsense-free insights into the club you support.
If you like it, please do subscribe, share and feel free to comment below. Thanks.
While I prefer to stick mainly to Villa supporter issues on WTF, here’s a little bit of alpha info into the Villa transfer window picture, that I haven’t mentioned before. It may help explain why Villa have been linked to so many players of the same position in recent weeks.
Villa’s CEO Christian Purslow declared in the last Fan Consultation Group (FCG) meeting with him, that his aim with Johan Lange was to provide Steven Gerrard with three legitimate options he’d be happy with in each of the positions he was looking to strengthen in.
Now, of course, it’s standard practice to have a list of preferences for any position a manager seeks, but it was interesting that the Villa CEO stressed that they would provide three distinctly good options for Gerrard to chose from.
You’d expect the ground work on each of the three to be a little more thorough than if it was simply just a player on an ordered wish list. Thus Villa’s approaches to these players would be a little firmer than usual and have the potential to spin off into bigger transfer rumour stories.
For example, in the case of the centre-back position, Villa’s three options could potentially have been: Diego Carlos, Kalidou Koulibaly and James Tarkowski.
Something to think about when you see further links to players in positions Villa have already bought this window.
Comparing Apples and Pears
The biggest eye roll of the transfer coverage so far has been the increasingly inane usage of comparison stats, when comparing players from different level leagues.
Yes, your comparison charts looks nice, but does it actually mean anything?
It’s not an exact science comparing a French Ligue 1 or Scottish Premier League player’s stats to a Premier League player’s. It screams content for content’s sake, offering very little insight to the ultimate question, when it comes to a player’s potential adaptability to the English game…
Can they do it on a cold rainy night in Stoke?
Remember Jores Okore? Great stats in the Danish Superliga and he had Champions League experience.
Okore Against Stoke?
27 February 2016 - Stoke City 2 Aston Villa 1.
(For those wondering, Okore currently plies his trade in the Chinese Super League.)
It’s perhaps unfair to single Okore out, as many Villa players bought with a stats-leaning moneyball approach around that time, especially from the French Ligue 1, very much flopped at Villa.
With character very much one of the core qualities Steven Gerrard is seeking in his new recruits, hopefully his own intuition when meeting the players will prove a more reliable factor in Villa’s recruitment.
Unsavoury Highs at Villa Park
Once a month during the season, I sit on the West Midlands Police Football Unit Independent Advisory Group (IAG). It’s not something I ever envisaged doing, as you always consider the dynamic of ‘us vs them’, when it comes to the old bill and football supporters.
But if you want to get to the truth of a matter`(especially with the state of today’s media), it’s good to have all sides of the story and as many sources as possible.
In terms of getting proper information and intel for Villa supporters, and in some cases, even helping some fans that have been in a spot of bother, it’s proven very useful.
It’s also a good platform to actually question and challenge the police on matters, whether it be the proposed uses of DNA spray and drones at games, and ask questions on things like their operations ahead of policing the Villa vs Blues derby.
I’m no cheerleader of the police, but in my experience of this IAG, they have been surprisingly transparent and very respectful.
Some titbits from the last meeting, before we get onto the main issue of the increasing issue of match day drug usage.
The visit of Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal to Villa Park, always presents the issue of away fans getting tickets in the home ends of Villa Park.
In the recent visit of Liverpool, three Liverpool fans were evicted from the Lower North. Punches were thrown and there’s now the possibility of these Liverpool fans getting banning orders.
Perhaps more unsavoury though was the actions of a Villa fan in the Trinity Stand at the game, who was reported for a ‘hate crime’ towards Jurgen Klopp (in the context of his heritage). Apparently, Klopp didn’t hear it, so hasn’t pressed any charges himself.
The Increasing Presence of Drug Dogs
In the bigger picture though there’s been an underlining theme to much of the disorder at games in the past season.
Policing Minister Kit Malthouse recently admitted that, "More and more the police are finding class A drugs at the heart of [football] disorder”.
What happened at the Euros 2020 final at Wembley last year was a headlining example of this.
A West Midlands Police member working Wembley that day, told MOMS that while they were experienced in the full spectrum of football supporter behaviour, on that day, “it felt very different”.
The cocaine train has also pulled up at Villa matches too.
Earlier in the season, at Villa’s away trip to Leeds United, three Villa fans were outed by Yorkshire Police drug dogs and refused entry to Elland Road.
More recently, at Villa Park, for the visit of Liverpool, the club employed a private drug dogs firm. Another cost that the rise in your ticket prices is probably covering.
At the recent Wolves vs Manchester City game, according to police, drugs were behind a fight that broke out in a stand, that led to a steward suffering a dislocated knee.
Ironically, it was the rise of recreational drugs usage (mainly ecstasy, acid, weed etc) and the influence of rave culture from the end of the eighties onwards, that contributed to helping ease the hooligan problem and unsocial behaviour at football matches.
Like VAR, recreational drugs aren’t necessarily bad, it’s just when they’re used by idiots things can go wrong.
Maybe getting charged up when going to games is a reaction to recent times? With last season being the first season back for fans after lockdown, maybe there is a feeling of making up for lost time? A subconscious reaction to the frustrations and limits to freedom that the pandemic brought?
We will soon see next season, if it is simply just a reactionary societal fad.
The government have already seen enough though. Starting next season, anyone caught in possession of or supplying class A drugs in connection with football, faces a five-year ban and their passport being taken off them.
Not quite the death penalty that has been mooted at the Qatar World Cup, if football fans are caught smuggling in drugs, but a clear indication that the issue has to be addressed, before it gets worse.
On a slight aside, I did like the EFL’s attempts to get down with football fans with the frequency of their messaging, after the recent spate of aggressive incidents towards players during several celebratory end of season pitch invasions.
FFS - For Football’s Sake.
Gold star to the marketing person behind that!
Thanks for reading astonvilla.wtf! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
Please also consider becoming a Patron to join me in Match Club, get extra podcasts and support MOMS work - Click here for more details