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McLeish short of support at stumbling Villa

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Phil McNulty | 09:44 UK time, Wednesday, 25 April 2012

AT VILLA PARK

Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish found a supportive voice in American owner Randy Lerner as he walked Villa Park's corridors after defeat to Bolton. He would not have found much sympathy elsewhere.

With around five minutes left of a damaging loss that leaves Villa only three points above the relegation places), the discontent which has simmered since McLeish arrived from relegated rivals Birmingham City last June spilled over into hostile, abusive discontent.

Fans on The Holte End were wrestling with an anti-McLeish "Get The 'Eck' Out Of Here" banner when chants demanding the Scot's sacking - and others of a more unsavoury but equally uncomplimentary nature - rang deafeningly around Villa Park.

McLeish stood alone outside his technical area, almost bemused at how Villa had transformed a deserved one-goal lead given to them by Stephen Warnock into a loss that leaves them with genuine relegation fears as Martin Petrov's penalty and David Ngog's winner gave Bolton the points.

Alex McLeish

McLeish is now in danger of a second successive relegation with a Birmingham club. Photo: Getty

Villa are now only three points above the relegation zone, and when the final whistle sounded on a result that ensures they will endure their worst sequence of home results in their history, McLeish was left in no doubt that vast swathes of the club's supporters inside the ground wanted him out.

One respected Villa media observer of almost 20 years standing had no hesitation in declaring this was the worst abuse he had heard directed at a manager of the club in that time.

McLeish has needed a thick skin from the moment he walked into Villa's Bodymoor Heath training complex in the sunshine last June, switching managerial jobs across the city just days after quitting Birmingham.

The Scot and owner Lerner knew the risks the appointment carried. McLeish may have won the Carling Cup for Birmingham but plenty of Villa fans were unimpressed by his arrival.

They might have enjoyed McLeish's work in taking their rivals down, but this did not mean they wanted him at their club.

Protests before McLeish's arrival hardly hinted at a warm welcome - and results and circumstances conspired until the situation reached the outpouring of anger aimed at one man that was witnessed on Tuesday.

No matter that Villa had actually been excellent for an hour. No matter that McLeish has been deprived of a succession of high-profile players such as Stiliyan Petrov through serious illness and main goalscorer Darren Bent through injury.

No matter that he never had the chance to utilise Ashley Young and Stewart Downing before they left. No matter that he has been increasingly forced to rely on promising but raw academy products.

The bottom line is that McLeish's managerial history means he will not be cut any slack from a fair portion Villa's support and he has not been able to arm himself with the only shield of protection he could in the shape of good results.

It is unfair on Villa's followers to suggest his Birmingham background alone has been the catalyst for such discontent. The judgement comes with results and performances and McLeish has come up short on both these counts.

McLeish has been fighting a battle that could only be won with a good first season - and 13 points from 16 games in 2012 does not come close to bridging the widening gap between manager and supporters.

Aston Villa now have West Bromwich Albion away, Tottenham at home and Norwich away, while McLeish faces the unedifying prospect of being the man who took both of the Second City's clubs down in successive seasons.

It is still in their hands but the manner in which their confidence visibly, indeed almost instantly, drained away once Bolton equalised was ominous.

McLeish fought the good fight afterwards but it is hard to see how he can reverse such a strength of feeling against him from fans frustrated by what they see as an unattractive style, results and - a not insignificant factor - the club he served before arriving at Villa Park.

West Brom manager Roy Hodgson was observing from the stands and it is highly unlikely The Hawthorns will provide any respite for McLeish or Villa this weekend. Indeed they may take a local rival's delight in pushing them closer to the Championship.

McLeish was right to point in the direction of Villa's fine performance for the first hour but the mood turned vicious and sour once it became clear this was a losing cause.

He is still confident Villa will stay up but owner Lerner will have heard how determined so many of his team's fans were to deliver a damning disapproval of McLeish.

The first priority for McLeish and Lerner will be to see this season out and hopefully conclude it still in the Premier League. They must then work out if they can devise a strategy that can somehow win over the thousands of dissenters or cut their losses and decide this is a footballing marriage that is destined not to work.

McLeish insists he will not walk away from a three-year contract and as one of the most battle-hardened men in the game. This is no surprise - but he will need Lerner to be as supportive as he was on Tuesday.

Comments

Page 1 of 9

  • Comment number 1.

    Splendit, Mr McNulty. On the day after Chelsea wrote history in world football, you construct a blog on Lerner's attempt to keep Villa floating in Premier League, while applying economies in scales, to paraphrase a financial term.

    It hurt having not gone to Barcelona, I suppose. You surely expected a Chelsea mauling. :)

  • Comment number 2.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 3.

    Chelsea beat Barca in one of the most amazing performances by a British club in years and you blog on Villa!!

    I'm a Liverpool fan but come on the Chelsea results is fantastic.

  • Comment number 4.

    As a Spurs fan the situation Villa is in, puts our usual back end season crumble into perspective.

    The club looks lost and its a shame because they seem (To me, Villa fans may tell me different) to be an honest club. However the level of unrest pointed at AM, pretty much shows the terraces have spoken and its only so long before the clubs board will act upon it.

  • Comment number 5.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 6.

    1. I wouldnt be the least bit suprised if they escape relegation by the last game, what a decline for Aston Villa and i bet Darren Bent is rather regretting his choices now, seems like it will cost him an England spot too. What a poor appointment MCleish was. I wouldnt be that bothered if they did go down.

    2. Just want to say well dont to Chelsea and DiMatteo on lasts nights game, brilliant performance.....as for Terry?!?! what an idiot!

  • Comment number 7.

    Have to feel sorry for you Phil. Usually you are criticised for constantly reporting on the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal, Man Utd & Man City etc. Yet given Chelsea's fine performance yesterday, the talk should be on them and not Villa. But you can only report on the game you saw!

    I hope Villa go down. They've been an absolute shambles, and for some unknown reason, McLeish has set them out to draw games when they have match winners like Ireland, N'Zogbia, Agbonlahor, Bent etc.

    Then again you have to question the overall leadership / decision making of Lerner. Letting O'Neil go, enticing Houllier only for him to leave after "health" problems. Then to top it off, he brings in the brummie manager (who had them relegated twice) as the man to take them forward.

    Anyone would have thought Lerner is a closet Birmingham fan!!

  • Comment number 8.

    Is it just me or is this article out of place? did chelsea not reacht he cl final last night by defeating the "best" team in the world on their own ground while down to 10 men for most of the match? aston villa......... who cares!!!

  • Comment number 9.

    *done

  • Comment number 10.

    McLeish makes my skin crawl. I don't understand why he is deemed to be seen as a 'good manager'. From the instant he left Birmingham he has caused nothing but grief for the poor villa fans. He seems to have no tactical awareness or even worse a passion for what he's doing. On this form he will be known for sinking 2 teams from the premiership.

    McLeish OUT if they want to stay in the premier league.

  • Comment number 11.

    Although I got the impression that Lerner's hands were a little tied with who he could appoint. Hughes & co didn't want the job, which is a little strange given Villa are / were / supposed to be a respectable mid-table (top 8) club!

  • Comment number 12.

    This is a terribly inaccurate and unfair article. Surely McRelegator deserves a contract expansion for his sterling work?

  • Comment number 13.

    9.At 11:09 25th Apr 2012, signori wrote:
    ________________

    Catenaccio 1 Tiki-Taka 0

    :)

  • Comment number 14.

    As a Villa fan the relegator as he is known was given time by us. Yes we protested prior to his appiontment but I think he has been given plenty of time before the fans turned on him inside the stadium. He has no one to blame (although he likes to) but himself.

    Its not because he came from Small Heath Utd but his manageral record is appalling. We would take Mr Houghton tomorrow...

    2 relegations with SHU.
    Managed Rangers to a club record 10 games without a win.
    Finshed 3rd in a 2 horse league! THIRD!!
    Worst Points tally for Villa in the premirship
    Havent scored from a corner all season
    Worst home record ever in the premiership
    7 wins all season
    Worse record than SMU last season now!
    I could go on but whats the point....

    He has to go!

    Relegator OUT!!

    Spurs home match is McLeish out day. Come on lets get our club back!

  • Comment number 15.

    Villa fans...quite simple. The floor is yours to give your views on Alex McLeish and your season. Is it unfair to suggest his Birmingham background means he is cut less slack or is he judged purely on results?

    I have had my say...I'd love to hear your views. I think his background is a problem but results are an even bigger one.

  • Comment number 16.

    Ah really now…..his Birmingham connections have nothing to so with the Villa fans reaction!! Cmon McNulty at least be honest.

    His style of football is awful and not even effective. He represents all that is wrong with the English game. Birmingham deserved to go down last year because of this and Villa may well follow them this year.

    Terrible article (both this piece and McLeish)

    What will you say about West Ham fans and their zero love for Big Sam!!

  • Comment number 17.

    Brilliant, I came on this website today expecting to be able talk proudly about what my boys achieved last night, and to also say that fans of other teams had also supported the English club progressing. Instead, I see this drivel about Mcleish trying to put Birmingham football into the conference all on his own.

  • Comment number 18.

    Ah...I was hoping for a blog on Chelsea's fantastic win last night. Anyway well done Chelsea, even as a United fan I was proud of your efforts!

  • Comment number 19.

    When I remember how unfair Villa fans were on MON, demanding him to produce top four or else, without taking into account the owner's unwillingness to invest, I have to admit I have no sympathy for Villa fans whatsoever. They deserve what they're getting this season.

  • Comment number 20.

    Aston Villa, like several other Premiership clubs, think of themselves as "too good to go down". This is the mindset of many of the players and most of the fans, who of course are never to blame for anything, plus they have their scapegoat nicely set up already. If they do go down they'll probably come straight back up with a new man at the helm. It wouldn't hurt them to go down; reality check. Like most of us at the start of the season, they expected it to be Wigan & 2 out of the 3 newly promoted teams. I'm really pleased it won't be that way. More Prem teams need to wake up & realise they don't have a divine right to be there.

  • Comment number 21.

    What can i say, maybe in the end Mcleish is the best Birmingham city manager in our history.....

    He was a hated figure by many, but now he is affectionately know as The Agent ;)

    KRO


    To more important footballing matters, Chelsea you did us all proud, what a game, this is exactly why we all follow football.

    I could write a book about the game last night, amazing truly an epic game...

    Put me in a great mood all day, and usually i dont give a hoot about the west London money snobs, but now Chelsea are right up there as one of the great teams of England

  • Comment number 22.

    Ah, the 'Second City'! I'm afraid if football is anything to go by, there is only one candidate for 'Second City' and that's London!

  • Comment number 23.

    It's fair to say McLeish hasn't done well and should probably be moved on...

    To suggest a suitable replacement (for Lerner, the finances dept, and the Villa fans), Villa would need to look no further than the manager of the Villa Ladies who looking at the table is doing a great job...a job with limit resources I imagine, yet still in a cup final and a third place finish. Who at Villa wouldn't want that?

  • Comment number 24.

    #13.eduard_streltsov_ghost

    HAHAHA thats the beautiful game for you! enjoyed every last minute of the game, ounched the air when Torres scored! i had, had a few pints so wont happen again mind!

    Catenaccio....the old door-bolt :)

    everyone please lay of McNults............the Chelsea article will come soon.......

  • Comment number 25.

    As a lifelong villa fan, I'm truly disgusted with the state of the club at the present time. Mcleish is the worst manager to ever grace the premier league and is the worst in our club's 138 year history. 4 wins at home all season and 7 in total is an absolute disgrace and silences the total rubbish most of the media spin about fans not liking him because of his blues connections. The fans hate him as his record is truly pathetic.
    Then we move onto Randy Lerner and Paul Faulkner, who it appears are the only two men in the UK who can't see how terrible mcleish is. Lerner is nothing more than a loser (just look at how poor the Cleveland Browns are) and we are paying the price for his ineptitude. Its no wonder attendences are declining rapidly. The club needs a new owner as much as it needs a new manager.

  • Comment number 26.

    Yeah why a blog on the Vile, nothing special about that Club, they seem to have this delusion that because they won something in by gone eras they are still a top club worthy of CL status.

    please get this blog off and put on something so we can all share the Glory of what Chelsea did last night, i think even all the fans around the country possibly even Arsenal fans are united on this because it was an amazing game, nothing but the highest comments should be given to what Chelsea did.

    Where is souless now, rolls eyes as i imagine him head butting the wall and smashing his £29.99 second laptop purchased on ebay

  • Comment number 27.

    Villa look like a club on the slide and McLeish doesn't look like he has a McClue how to halt it.

  • Comment number 28.

    14.At 11:16 25th Apr 2012, Phillip5150 wrote:
    ________________

    You've hit the nail on the head!! Anyone with a record that bad for Villa would need sacking. The brummie roots didn't help him at the start, but the awful record is what will give him the sack.

    His style of football is shocking as well. Steve Bruce in charge as a replacement??

  • Comment number 29.

    Great Blog Phil !

    :)


    and to all those moaning about the subject matter;

    expect the unexpected, after all football is a " funny ol game "

    ---------

    as for McCleish, i think he's on for a Double, Birmingham and now Villa :)

  • Comment number 30.

    If we go down, he'll have been relegated 3 out of the last 4 seasons!! The guy is a waste of space. How he got the job in the first place is beyond me and Lerner has to take all the blame for that.

    Our worst ever home record this season, 7 wins all season and last night the starting 11 had only scored 10 goals between them. Horrendous.

    Get him and his useless clown of a side kick Grant out of there!!

  • Comment number 31.

    When clubs are battling to stay in the Premier League, the fans can be the 12th man. It is okay to stand up for what you think is right for the club, but when the crowd act in this way relegation just seems inevitable.
    Anyway congratulations to Chelsea
    http://playwithflair.com/2012/04/23/a-clasico-weekend-of-sport-heres-a-roundup/

  • Comment number 32.

    I have never been a fan of villa and would like them to go down but I think they manage to avoid it. A couple of draws will probably keep them up I think. McLeish cant still be there next season, its one thing to have bad luck and not do as well as the last couple of seasons but something completly different to have the worst home record in the clubs history!

  • Comment number 33.

    Villa are terrible, easily the worst team that have been to Old Trafford this season. Still think they'll stay up but they've got big problems.

    Congratulations to Chelsea last night, great performance. Only downside is the raft of suspensions they'll have for the final, Terry and Ramires are absolutely irreplacable for them.

  • Comment number 34.

    Many of the media have wondered why Owen Coyle seems to have been immune from the abuse suffered from most of the managers at the bottom of the league yet they're critical of fans of these clubs for having a go at "decent" men. Well, Bolton fans have long enough memories to know that any manager is going to be better than the post's previous incumbant (who was the worst manager in our history).

    The simple fact is that McLeish knew exactly what Villa fans think of anything to do with the blue half of their city but was arrogant enough to assume that these feelings wouldn't apply to him. Well they do and whingeing about it now just goes to show that he shouldn't have been appointed in the first place. Owners have to realise that without the fans their clubs are worthless and to have total comtempt for them when making major appointments is just asking for trouble.

  • Comment number 35.

    I think Blackburn are already more or less down. Even Liverpool managed to beat them, their only win in 6 league games and I think Spurs will end their poor run against Blackburn in the same way. Between QPR, Bolton, Aston Villa and Wigan it's very hard to call. Of course, Villa are in a favourable position as they visit West Brom and Norwich whereas QPR have to visit a rejuvinated Chelsea and a potential title-winning game at the Ethiad. It's an exciting season!

  • Comment number 36.

    i would prefer two blogs to discuss and comment on and that is Chelsea's epic win, and what is happening at Rangers at the moment, that would get alot more hits, Villa is just a complete waste of of any ones time.....

  • Comment number 37.

    Congratulations on acknowledging there was more football than just the Champions League on last night.

    Sadly, McLeish's track record at surviving relegation battles is limited to say the best and I don't think he has the capability or understanding to prevent Villa from plummeting like the Blues did last season.

    Villa fans' worst fears when McLeish was appointed are being realised in slow, painful reality before our eyes.

    The only thing equally as certain is Randy Lerners inability to pick a decent manager.

  • Comment number 38.

    " Chelsea are right up there as one of the great teams of England "


    utter tosh, but hey your entitled to an opinion, what its based on i don't know, perhaps i could have some that stuff your smoking.

  • Comment number 39.

    I am amused that the self proclaimed BBC Sport's chief football writer was watching what is developing into the relegation battle while the rest of the football world were watching the Champions League last.

    It is right that Villa v Bolton get their press and it is as a result of the BBC's folly that this blog will probably be overtaken by those commented on events at the Nou Camp.

    As far as Bolton go, they seem to have a spirit much greater than Villa but I would still fear for them. There is only a small gap between them but that counts for so much in the final shake up.

    As far as Villa go, they are achieving a lot less than in more recent seasons but is this as a result of Learner's 'interest' or should they be doing rather better than they are?

    Anyway, from Stamford Bridge to Munich.....

  • Comment number 40.

    seriously, any danger of a blog about the Chelsea game last night? I fancy a little chat with Soul Patch. Would be mighty interested to hear how good Barca where last night. Hoping for a Bayern win tonight as well, can't believe as an Englishman I'm going to say this, but I hope the Germans beat Madrid, I despise the opinion that Spanish football is the best.

  • Comment number 41.

    Can we finally end the myth that Villa fans didn't want McLeish because of his Blues connections? Many Villa fans said before his ill-advised appointment that his terrible record (Rangers came third in Scotland under him, two relegations, boring defensive football) was the reason he was never wanted at Villa Park. He is unable to formulate tactics or instill any will to win in the players (the performances at Spurs, Arsenal and Man U were utterly dreadful). His signings (Hutton, the worst full back ever to play for Villa) and N'Zogbia (a flaky personality at best) have been dire.
    The club is badly run, with it seems, little knowledge of football at the higher echelons. O'Neill (three Top Six finishes)was apparently "constructively dismissed", Milner was sold and replaced by a season of non-functioning Stephen Ireland, £24 million was spent on Bent and then his chief goal providers Young and Downing were both sold, an attacking manager (Martinez) was approached and then a defensive and patently unsucessful manager was appointed. Many Villa fans predicted the current situation at the start of the season. The media seems to defend McLeish continually, why? Perhaps he is personally a nice, decent bloke but he is a very poor football manager and should have been sacked last Xmas.

  • Comment number 42.

    Don't think even the BBC gave Chelsea a chance seeing their chief football writer was at Villa Park last night.

  • Comment number 43.

    Mcleish should never, ever have been considered for the villa job based on his terrible track record. What Lerner was thinking last summer really is a mystery- i mean when you appoint a manager with a track record of negative football and relegations, its not exactly a surprise when you find yourself in the same position. When Lerner bought the club he said "There have been plenty of custodians of Aston Villa since 1874 and if I can't make it work, I will do what the others did, move on and let someone else try". It about time he stuck to his words and did so, taking Mcleish and the useless Paul Faulkner with him.

  • Comment number 44.

    Typical of the billy big club mentality!

    "Who cares about last night".. Ermm... All the clubs that are battling for their Premier League lives down the bottom? There's more to football than the Champions League.

    I feel for Villa fans. As a Bolton fan, we went through the same thing with Megson. But we got rid at just the right time. The media were all over us and fans of every other club wanted us relegated because of our 'treatment' of him.

    It's all a bit blind. Nobody other than Villa fans know what kind of turgid performances and tactics he serves up. He moans at the fans, singles out players and lambasts everybody but himself for their failings.

    Villa, partly due to injuries, partly due to managerial ineptitude and inexperience made us look like Brazil for the most part last night. They only had 2 genuine opportunities and put one away. This is against us! At home!

    Great result for us, but I can perfectly understand the fans' discontent.

  • Comment number 45.

    #38 HAHA CharadeYouAre

    Maybe if Arsenal had shown a bit more backbone at times in recent seasons......

  • Comment number 46.

    As a Birmngham City fan we all know to well what Mcleish is about, and i remember having so many debates last year about him being a good manager, he is trash full stop.

    And for anyone who does not know what the attitude of the vile fans they are the worst fans in the world.

    They still actually think they are the cream of European football, they think they are on par with the with top 4 consider themselves some sort of elite club, all they do week in week out is moan and groan and are the worst possible fans ever.

    I am trying my best to be objective here, and there is not one honest Villa fan who can even admit that they are a very mediocre club at best, they have been for years. There are only one true set of fans in Birmingham and thats the Blue side, we are far more realistic with our club and the our expectations, we know we are crap at times, and it doesnt bother us so much, but we are an amazing set of fans that loves our club and have always supported it realistically.

  • Comment number 47.

    Arsenal were Bendtner kick away from knocking out Barca last season!!

  • Comment number 48.

    TBH. I'd much rather see Villa go down than either Wigan or Bolton. Fingers crossed.
    If that happens Eck will never be take a step in Brum again.

  • Comment number 49.

    #38, HAHA CharadeYouAre,

    Erm... good-morning?
    It wasn't a nightmare last night.
    Besides that so much talked, full 1 metre longer pitch on each side, Chelsea did get a 2-2 draw against Barcelona and did progress to the final.
    (I just wanted to break it gently) :)

  • Comment number 50.

    Yes, great result for Chelsea last night but you have to fear for them in the final with such a depleted team. As well as Terry, Ramirez, Miereles and Ivanovic being suspended, Cahill and Luiz may not be fit. That is one hell of a handicap going into the Final and a rather unfair one. I think Bayern will progress tonight and they will have the added advantage of the Final being in their own stadium.

  • Comment number 51.

    Well said #4 and #20.

    Would love to see Villa go, and hopefully Spurs can play a full part in sending McLeish down for the second season running!

  • Comment number 52.

    @44

    Please dont consider Bolton as anything like Bolton.

    Bolton fans dont think they are actually as good and as Big as Real Madrid or Bracelona.

    They are in all honesty a bunch of delusional mugs trust me, i have the unfortunate experience of growing up around them :(

  • Comment number 53.

    i mean please dont consider Bolton as anything like Villa

  • Comment number 54.

    Villa's problems this season were evident a long while a go hence Martin O'Neill taking to the lifeboat last pre-season so to blame McLeish isn't entirely fair. What I can never understand though is why a club would ever appoint a former local-rival as their manager. For example George Graham won the League cup at Spurs but the fans couldn't wait to get rid of him so I feel it really is a lose-lose situation for both club and manager.

  • Comment number 55.

    If Villa do go down the fans can happilly blame.................. themsleves. Yep, themselves not the manager. From pre season to last night they have never had a good word to say about McLeish. Constant protests of one type or another has meant that the players are aware of everything going on & the is showed in performances were the players were clearly scared of losing.

    Even if Villa were mid table, which is about as good as they would deserve with their squad, the fans would still be having a go. In fact large sections would still be having a go if they were in a position for European football next year. Theya ren't interested in Villa doin g well, they are only interested in getting rid of Mcleish, simply because he managed Birmingham. What a sad bunch of losers.

  • Comment number 56.

    #50, maxmerit,

    When Chelsea play almost an hour at Camp Nou with 10 players and without recognised central defenders and get a 2-2 draw, you have nothing to be afraid about them. I think they're beyond fear at this point, this season.

  • Comment number 57.

    42. Govie10 made me chuckle. Been itching to say something about the Chelsea Barca game.
    I for one put a bet on Chelsea to win the Champions League before the quarters and it is still on.
    Something about them in this competition tells me they have the belief that lady luck is shining down on them. She even forced some shorter legs into central defence to combat the short legs of Barca.

  • Comment number 58.

    If they thought he was a good manager, they'd take great pride in tearing him away from their biggest rivals, surely??

  • Comment number 59.

    Shadow warrior get a grip please. Your support meanders between 22000 and 9000. With that fly by night loyalty it is no wonder that Birmingham are constantly up and down the divisions. Villa like it or not actually have some history to be proud of whereas Birmingham I am afraid have no history of any kind except for the trophy AM won you yet there isnt a single bluenose out there who has anything nice to say about him!

    On another note congratulations to Chelsea.

  • Comment number 60.

    Some of you lot really have no clue. You think Phil picks the games he writes these blogs on? He's handed the Villa game and then has to do a piece on it. Most weeks, he gets shot down for doing a Chelsea/Man Utd/Man City/Liverpool article anyway with people desperate for something on a lower-placed team more often. Now he does one and you all moan.

    Anyway, I hope Villa go down. As a Newcastle fan, what really helped compound the misery of our relegation in 2009 was the Villa fans chanting us down to the Championship as if it could never happen to them. I'll love nothing more than to see them relegated. Other than it happening to Sunderland of course.

  • Comment number 61.

    He was a bizarre choice in the first place, not just because of his previous employers but also because of his relegation credentials! I've always had a soft spot for Villa but I enjoy seeing teams go down when they play horrible, horrible football. Without Bent, the "hard to beat but steal a goal" tactics are drastically flawed and whenever you see Heskey in the first XI you know there's desperation afoot!

    I suppose Villa fans might be able to take comfort in the fact that their remaining fixtures are against two sides who have little to play for but pride (and hopefully both will finish above Liverpool!) and a desperate-looking Spurs side. If it comes down to the final day, I think City in front of a full house celebrating an excellent season will destroy a very poor and uninspired Villa side. At least, I really really hope we do!

  • Comment number 62.

    @45

    maybe if we had your " luck "

    :) :) :)

    I missed the 1st 12 mins, as i was asleep, i then sat through what i have to say was a the most boring match of the season thus far.

    i hope the blog is not going to be deluged with chavs and chavittes crowing how they outplayed Barcelona, having said that the latter IMO were extremely poor on the night thats for sure, Messi seemed disinterested, fabregas was the same, Alves? i forgot how many times he was given the ball, to run down the flanks, but instead chose to play 100 passes square/diagonal to the centre.

    and i will agree on this occasion the tippy happy toe football failed to work and they
    seemed very reluctant to change it.

    chelsea ( small c ) stuck to the game plan, which was identical to that at SB, although this time Drogba was far from influential in the simulation, theatrics department, the punts up field worked.

    it was not however a great spectacle for the neutral.

  • Comment number 63.

    Barcelona were only ahead in the whole tie for about 2 minutes between Iniesta and Ramires' goals.

    Chelsea deserve all the credit. After all we were 2-0 down in the Nou Camp with ten men, and no recognised centre halves. Yet we didn't even lose on the night.

  • Comment number 64.

    No one can defend Mcleish's record this season- 4 wins at home, 7 in total, 36 goals in 35 games, etc. We have won only 2 games in 2012 and one of those was via a late scrappy goal v fulham. The rest of the time we have been dreadful and completely devoid of any creativity or ideas.
    He is a pathetic excuse of a manager and if Lerner had an ounce of interest in us villa fans who have been subjected to this negative rubbish all year, he would never have gone near someone with such a terrible record (nothing to do BCFC, despite what the journos try and make you believe).
    We won't pick up another point never mind a win in the 3 remaining games. Our only hope was to sack mcleish on the spot last night. It may well have given the players a lift and would have been a gamble worth taking. Unfortunately, as usual our idiot owner Lerner, stands by and does nothing. Id rather have Doug Ellis back, at least he wouldn't have stood for this garbage.
    Everyone involved in Aston Villa 2011-2012 should hang their heads in shame.

  • Comment number 65.

    The man can write what he wants. Who are any of you to tell a BBC journalist that he should have written yet another Chelski article when the site is already overloaded with top 4 related pieces? There was only the match report of last night's game and a short video interview with McLeish before this article so to suggest that it shouldn't have been written is a joke.
    Overall, a good article though. McLeish needs to go. I was one of those at the start of the season who was sceptical about the appointment but willing to let him prove me wrong. He hasn't. Simple as that. A lower mid-table finish would have been acceptable with the resources available and would have at least justified a second season with his own signings. To draw Villa into a relegation fight is beyond a joke. Nobody has a 'right' to be in the PL, but with the squad we have you'd expect better.
    Lerner has to assess whether it's cheaper to get relegated, or to sack McLeish. He'll be presiding over an empty Villa Park next year if he doesn't act soon.

  • Comment number 66.

    Seriously who cares about Chelsea, this is the umpteenth time they've played Barcelona in the CL. THe only good thing is to watch them win it and deprive Newcastle/Spurs/Arsenal of CL football......

    I warn you once Roman has got the CL what is there left, his holy grail will be over and he may just lose interest. Be careful what you wish for

    Anyway, Villa. The are on 'Ron's Aktinson's glass mountain', other teams have momemtum and Villa have none. Is AM a double agent, the plan being to get Brum relegated move to Villa, get them relegated and watch brum go the other way.....

    As always in the end the table doens't lie, if they go down they deserve it, plenty more sides in that division have less and have played far better.

    AM is manager who sets out not to lose, rather than win games, weird since he did have Bent Petrov & Agbonglahor, Bannon is okay, but his defenders have been poor this season.

    Given can only do so much....feel for him good keeper never at the right club at the right time.....

    Gut feel is they will just stay up, but a last day struggle would be fun.....

  • Comment number 67.

    #5 - You could not be more wrong.

    Nobody called Mike Taylor has played for blues in recent years. Maik Taylor was a goalkeeper who certainly didn't break anyone's leg. He didn't defend Martin Taylor breaking his leg, he said it was an accident and defended him against those that were trying to say he should be banned for life. Typical Arsenal fan, always the sinned against, never the sinner.

    From somebody who is certainly not a fan of Mcleish.

  • Comment number 68.

    Not satisfied with taking Birmingham City down, McLeish then went to Villa Park...

  • Comment number 69.

    Clearly no one agrees with #23?!

    We have all this chat about getting rid of McLeish (minus the Chelsea comments) but with little constructive discussion about who could realistically come in. At times like these it's better to talk about the solution(s) and not just the problem(s). I'm sure Lerner might listen then...

  • Comment number 70.

    As a Villa supporter of longstanding, I am thoroughly sick of the media, and that includes both the print media, and Auntie Beeb, peddling the tired old idea that Villa fans hate McLeish because he managed the Blues. Whilst some may be that strident in their hatred, most Villa fans would have been perfectly sanguine about getting an ex-City manager ...

    ...if he hadn't proved himself to be a dreadful manager at this level!!

    His record with Birmingham was abyssmal, and he has developed a reputation for playing a boring, stodgy brand of the "beautiful game" aimed squarely at not losing, or not getting embarrassed by the big boys in the league.

    I frankly don't care where any manager comes from, as long as they play attacking / winning football. AM singularly fails on both counts.

    The difficulty here for Villa is that Lerner simply cannot afford to rid himself of this turbulent appointment: he paid Blues £3M to break his contract, and for his backroom staff. He is still paying compensation to Houllier, and cannot afford to get another manager in, thereby paying for 3 managers at the same time.

    Lerner has a decision to make as a Chairman: which is the worst financial nightmare - paying for 3 managers at once, but remaining on the Golden streets of the Premier League, or keeping with the present failure, and descending into the Championship. As a fellow Director, I appreciate what a toughie this actually is.

    His other option is possibly more attractive: cut and run by selling the club to another rich friend, and leave them with the problem to deal with.

    I despair

  • Comment number 71.

    Yeah, right: McLeish the worst manager in the Premier League.
    Did blindfolds go half price?

    Let's take things one at a time:
    a) Villa sell Ashley Young and Downing
    b) Villa do not buy players to cover their absence
    c) Bent gets injured and Stylian Petrov has my full wishes for a recovery.
    d) Villa have no replacements available
    e) Lerner looks interested in keeping books balanced, only.
    f) it's all McLeish's fault.

    So much for football experts around here.

  • Comment number 72.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 73.

    McRelegator has to be the worst manager ever the Premiership has ever seen. To bring a club the size of Villa almost to its knees is shameful.
    Their season has been a disgrace. Villa's fans tried to tell the board before he was appointed but they never listened and now look at the club. Why is it that fans views are NEVER listened to even though they can be very valuable to the club. McRelegator has cost Villa a fortune and ruined thousands of fans football seasons with his rubbish managing. He has to go. Its about time Lerner listened to what the fans/public have been saying all season. McLeish (McRelegator)........OUT!

  • Comment number 74.

    As for those that suggest the article should be about Chelsea, your arrogance is unbelievable. There will be plenty written about the "shock" of a team that cost over £200m to assemble beating a team in the champions league. For once, remember that a world outside the champions league exists.

    Whilst some Villa fans have give him time, there were always those that would hate Mcleish from the off. It's undeniable. Just knowing a handful of Villa fans proved that.

  • Comment number 75.

    Who's laughing now eh Aston Vile fans? Couldn't happen to a nicer club, even better if you rot down there for a couple of years.

  • Comment number 76.

    #62 HAHA CharadeYouAre

    What the matched lacked in quality it more than made up for in drama and edge of the seat tension. And I think that is the general consensus this morning as well. If you didn't like it, well, that's just you I guess.

  • Comment number 77.

    Give McLeish some credit! It he takes Villa down it will be an unbelievable achievement........one that few other managers would be capable of!

    Villa fans need to go after Leaarner. What has this guy done for the club? In fact why is he even bothered? He's kept them as a 'selling' club and shows no ambition whatsoever.

    Like most others on here I was looking forward to discussing that epic Chelsea performance today and hearing the thoughts of 'The Solied Pants of David_Villa' on the subject.

    The only thing that would actually have made that game more epic was if Torres' goal was actually needed to put Chelsea through. It's for games like that that we all watch football.

    Blueburns must is probably sleeping it off after a memorable night!

  • Comment number 78.

    McLeish is still a good manager and astute, he knows when to cut his losses. He did a great job at Scotland following walter smith and at Birmingham bringing them back up and winning Carling Cup. He brought in some good signings, Martins was injured last season remember, so was Zigic towards the end. Confidence is the only issue stopping the players. The Blues defence was well drilled and closed players down and shut out teams. I can only imagine that Villa are ticking the boxes in training but coming up short in games when the pressure is on.
    Fans should be behind the team for good or for worse, there were no calls for McLeish to resign last season at st Andrews. The villa fans don't respect him purely because he was from City. O'Neil, who in their mind Mourinho, only managed a draw (ok there was a bit of luck with the offside). Villa fans didn't give him a chance, they didn't want him to succeed. Who could have done better without investment? Hodgson? Look what happened when he went to Liverpool and they refused to spend. McLaren? Forrest didn't do great with him for that short period.
    McLeish has lost players to injury, illness and transfers, but he doesn't blame that, because he's professional. If the supporters want Villa to stay up they need to show their passion in a different way til the end of the season. The fans were critical of him for playing a defensive style of football at Birmingham, but attacking play is risky so you have to accept the counter-attack.
    St Andrews was a difficult place to come for teams to win, because of the fans (who are great, and create a great atmosphere). Villa Park has been just that, a walk in the park because of the negativity in the stadium. I blame the fans not the coach. I have faith Villa will stay up, just.

  • Comment number 79.

    Well, it is quite simply the worst managerial appointment in Premier League history. The dithering and drawn-out process of appointing a successor to the farce that was Houllier's reign ended in the most appropriate fashion conceivable.

    The people running Aston Villa (Lerner, Faulkner, and co) have less football nous than your average armchair fan who just watches games on Sky Sports. This is no exageration either - we originally had MON (a largely counter-attacking, direct style manager), we then appointed Houllier (a possession based, slow tempo approach). The transition did not go well. We then publically approached Martinez, similar to Houllier's ilk, and who made the right call in snubbing us. How we then went from this coaching style to appointing ALEX MCLEISH - the most defensive-minded, negative manager in the football league - is bewildering. Anyone who has the remotest idea about football could see that the constant shifting between these styles would be disruptive and damage our squad. Now we have Gabby, our only remaining player from the 'good old days' looking like a lost soul, who doesn't know if he's supposed to be a winger or striker any more.

    Alex McLeish is the immediate problem for us. But even if he is sacked later today, I dread to think who Lerner would appoint next.

    And no, it's not because he came from Small Heath Alliance.

  • Comment number 80.

    #76
    Some bits of the game were dull, but it was Barca that were dull for me. Passing it from side to side was never going to get them anywhere. Anyone could see that what Barca needed to do was draw Chelsea out a bit to create some space.

    So much for the tactical 'genius' that is Guardiola.

  • Comment number 81.

    @johnny705 post 60

    Johnny i was at that game and im afraid the sad fact is that whoever Newcastle were playing that day that would have received exactly the same reaction because Newcastle last season and in so many previous seasons have fans that are completely delusional about there place in the game and fans of a lot of clubs were fed up with the Geordies whining last season and telling us how special they are. You havent won anything for nearly 50 years and you were getting crowds of 12000 in the early 90s before sky made you a 'big club'.!
    Get over it and stop taking it so personally -as a Villa fan I wont take it personally if other fans laugh at us if we go down. Fans like to see big clubs go down. Thats the way it is.

  • Comment number 82.

    #74 garethom

    Everyone is aware of where things go in the pecking order and I (and others I would suggest) would not take away from the fact that last night was very important to Villa and Bolton fans.

    But, as a football story, what happened at the Nou Camp is higher up the agenda, the pecking order if you will.

    What makes us laugh is that many of us want to talk about it, but due to the way the BBC policies work, there is not a blog on the biggest story, but one on a lesser story. Ergo, for the many that wish to discuss last night they will, unfortunately, use this blog as that forum.

  • Comment number 83.

    Why do arsenal fans seem to think the world revolves around them? The two major matches last night had nothing to do with them so unless they want to provide any interesting insight in to last night's events I'd suggest they be better off keeping quiet until next season when they can have some impact on major events happening in football.

  • Comment number 84.

    @ 59

    We do have the grip on our club and are realistic, we are the first to admit we are crap, and its not always worth the money they charge for the tickets, every fan has a grumble with their team, but my point is that we dont consider ourselves as European elite.

    Case closed

  • Comment number 85.

    #80 We all follow United

    Indeed. Ignoring the merits of the position Chelsea found themselves in, it was up to Barcelona to make the running and, well, for the most part they simply failed.

    #77 WordsofWisdom

    I actually jumped up and then fell to my knees in relief when Torres scored!

  • Comment number 86.

    McLeish has to go. Its gone too far now.

    As for Chelski fans complaining that the blog isn't about them, just look at any newspaper, the front page of bbc sport etc etc etc for mountains of reading. Any Man Utd or Arsenal fan saying they are proud of another club? Pah! You should be ashamed. Well done Chelsea. But i'm a villa fan so why would i be proud?

    Villa are a club that have been in the top tier for over 20 years and are in real danger of going down. To some, this is an interesting article.

  • Comment number 87.

    24.At 11:22 25th Apr 2012, signori wrote:
    #13.eduard_streltsov_ghost

    HAHAHA thats the beautiful game for you! enjoyed every last minute of the game, ounched the air when Torres scored! i had, had a few pints so wont happen again mind!

    Catenaccio....the old door-bolt :)
    __________________

    I enjoyed every minute of it to be honest!!

    It was like watching a broken replay though........

    "Puyol gets the ball, plays it to busquets, busquets to xavi, xavi to iniesta (etc), barca play the ball across the 18 yard box, messi plays the ball wide to alves, alves crosses the ball in, chelsea clear their lines. back to the top"

  • Comment number 88.

    The problem with this whole blog is that it is based on the assumption that McLeish is a good manager

    Why were Villa fans so unimpressed at his arrival? It wasn't because of his Brum connections, it was becasue of his record there-2 relegations in under 4 years, whilst playing some of the most dour and negative football in the division

    Won a Carling Cup after being totally outplayed and snatching a goal from a total lack of communication between Sczenezy and Koscielny. Most Blues fans were happy to see the back of him for goodness sake!

    Villa have been absolutely awful this season, which no-one outside of Villa Park wants to blame on the management. Four home wins over the course of a season is not an acceptable record. Fair dos, it's unreasonable to expect Barca-type football from every team, but football is at heart an entertainment and fans have a right to expect to see their team at least try to play the beautiful game. At least under Houllier they tried to attack. Villa under McLeish are playing negative, losing football

    I feel genuinely sorry for players like N'Zogbia, one of the most criticised players this season, who find themselves lambasted for failing to take to Big 'Eck's awful, negative tactics

    Villa deserve better than this, they will not progress under this dinosaur of a manager. 40-1 to go down at the start of the season, my mates all told me I was a fool for taking this but it's looking like I could well be proved right

  • Comment number 89.

    Didnt bother to read the blog to be honest, just needed "A" blog.

    I'd like to congratulate Chelsea on a gargantuan effort last night and wish them and their fans all the best for the final... wonderful result!

  • Comment number 90.

    @76

    afraid it is.

    :)

  • Comment number 91.

    When MON left/walked out/was pushed .. the Club (the Directors and Owner) failed the fans, they sold the type of players they should have retained and appointed 2 appalling managers in quick succession ... they're making Wolves look well run.

    Its a sad situation, the club hit 6th 3 seasons on the trot with MON .. now they look destined for the Championship.

    As far as I could see, McLeish lacked the qualifications for the job other than he lived in Brum and was unemployed ... well there were thousands with those qualifications in the Brum at the time, most of whom could have done a better job.

    Looks like Randy Lerner is going to get what he deserves.

  • Comment number 92.

    Shocking appointment - McMuppet!!!!! The bloke had history and the style of play says it all. The most disappointing thing I heard all year was prior to Villa playing at Man City the BBC reporter said "McMuppet has got them playing like Small Heath Rovers" - Whilst I acknowledge Lerner and Co needed to do something after the O'Neill era of spend spend. Sadly the only benefit from relegation will see that idiot sacked!!!!!

    By the way well done Chelsea - if not flowing football your through

  • Comment number 93.

    I think you can rest assured that Paddy Power will be opening a book on Next Permanent Aston Villa manager within the coming month. Benitez might be worth a few quid, nobody else seems to want him.

  • Comment number 94.

    Question is, if Villa do go down, has Lerner go the club stable enough to avoid a fire sale?
    I'm assuming the money he banked from Downing (greatest deal in history, if only players had a refund policy) and Young is around unless its in his bank account...

    Villa do have a few players who Prem teams might want; Given, Bent, Dunne, not sure a Agbonglahor maybe....

    Lose them are they strong enough to get back at the first attempt?

  • Comment number 95.

    Can't believe there are still idiots out that like #55 Liam, who actually believe the rubbish written in the press about villa fans not liking McLeish because he managed blues. When will you realise that the fans are furious as we have only won 7 games all season. This is statistically our worst ever season in terms of results at home ever, since the club was formed in 1874, yet the fans are supposed to sit back and be happy with 4 home wins in 18. Its a complete farce and a disgrace and tbh im surprised Mcleish (and Lerner) havent received more abuse from the fans, because it is 100% justified. Its no surprise that attendences are beginning to drop below 30K and I think the club are in for a shock next year with regard to ticket sales, as people will not be putting up with this rubbish any longer. The club needs a total overhaul starting with the manager and this needs to happen ASAP. I just don't have any faith in Lerner to do it.

  • Comment number 96.

    85.
    At 11:59 25th Apr 2012, MrBlueBurns wrote:

    #77 WordsofWisdom

    I actually jumped up and then fell to my knees in relief when Torres scored!
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Sounds like a moment of biblical proportions, BlueBurns!

    Congrats on a truly monstrous performance and result!

  • Comment number 97.

    Oh dear me. Yet another once-great club is biting the dust.

    Aston Villa are no more entitled to be at the top table than Nottingham Forest were.

    Yet another example of how a foreign owner has ruined a club by appointing a mediocre British "media darling".

    McCleish is an example of everything that is bad about English football. No technique, stubborn unwillingness to adapt and a woefully uncharismatic personality. Hoofball at it's best.

    That said, Villa have only themselves to blame. O' Neill resigns due to lack of investment. Average Houllier gets the job, gets money to spend and plays negative football. McCleish carries on this philosophy with relish. Villa's slide is clear for everyone to see. And to be frank, Wigan and Bolton probably deserve to be in the PL more so than McCleish's boredraw mentality does.

    They've dug their grave, let's hope they lie in it come May.

  • Comment number 98.

    For me Villa's problem has been the lack of any decision from manager or chairman. If you look at the teams in and around Villa they have all made decisions rightly or wrongly.

    QPR: Chose to sack Warnock and hire Hughes. Hughes was given funds to sign players he felt would turn the clubs fortunes around. throwing money at the situation is not a luxury for many clubs, but QPR made the decision and at the minute it seems to be paying off.

    Blackburn: Have stuck with Kean. Although Blackburn are currently on a nasty loosing streak, Kean has seemingly managed to get the players up and ready for the fight. Something that I don't see in Villa.

    Bolton: Sold Cahill whose limbo situation was seemingly affecting the club. Easily their star player, the club could have chosen to keep hold of him (given the relegation fight) and let him leave for free. Coyle and Gartside made the decision to give the players a break and take them out to Dubai, which has seemingly revitalised them and they appear another team up for the fight.

    Wolves: The decision to sack McCarthy has backfired (understatement). However, the chairman/board have realised there is a problem and that they were facing relegation and took a bold decision.

    The point I'm trying to make is that all these clubs have made big decisions on and off the pitch to try and rescue their season and retain premier league status, something which I feel has been lacking at all levels at Aston Villa.

  • Comment number 99.

    #96
    I have a feeling a few Madrid and Bayern fans will have celebrated Chelsea getting through just as much!

  • Comment number 100.

    #90 HAHA CharadeYouAre

    In which case, unless you have something to say on the other subject, namely Villa I think, you're probably in the wrong place aren't you?

 

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