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Villans and heroes

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Steve Wilson | 13:52 UK time, Wednesday, 8 February 2012

It's turning into a difficult season for Aston Villa's players, management, chairman and supporters.

The Villans have taken just 28 points from 24 games this season and sit 13th in the Premier League table.

They have not won at home since early November and attendances at Villa Park are down around 10 per cent on last season.

Those same fans who were horrified when chairman Randy Lerner appointed Alex McLeish - the former manager of bitter rivals Birmingham City - have been online this week whipping up support for a planned protest against the Scotsman before their game against Manchester City on Sunday.

A statement posted on the Vital Villa (VV) fans' website claims the team's current run of results is "relegation form."

To add to their conviction that McLeish is the wrong man for the job, they are pointing to his spat with Charles N'Zogbia and the Frenchman's much reported tweet as evidence of player unrest.

Villa have taken just 28 points from 24 games this season under McLeish. Photo: Getty

The £10m signing tweeted he was not happy playing football for the first time in his life - a post which was swiftly removed.

I cannot tell you what they mood really is in that Villa dressing room, but I can tell you that employing N'Zogbia has sometimes been a challenge for other clubs as well.

His undoubted potential might not have been reached when he was a teenager at French club Le Havre, because of his affiliation with bad influences, while he left Newcastle for Wigan when Joe Kinnear left him out of the team and upset him by mispronouncing his name as "insomnia".

The fans are hankering for a return of the good old days at Villa, not only the fantastic side of the early 80s when they won the First Division and European Cup in successive seasons, but also looking on enviously at the magic being spun by their former boss Martin O'Neill at Sunderland.

Ah yes, those were the days - when, in their first 24 games under O'Neill, they had 29 points and sat 14th in the table.

I'm not saying that everything is fantastic at Villa Park, but I don't think the manager is the major problem. O'Neill, given time, financial support and the goodwill of the fans, achieved terrific things with three sixth-place finishes, a Wembley final and a taste of Europe.

However, could it be that O'Neill resigned five days before the start of the 2010/11 season because he could see which way the club was going? In simple terms the money has largely dried up.

Yes, they signed Darren Bent last January for a fee which could eventually rise to £24m - but at the time Villa were 17th and in serious danger of being relegated.

If only Lerner had been willing to invest to attempt a step up rather than to fend off a step down, then perhaps O'Neill would still be in charge?

Lerner is entitled to spend as much or as little as he pleases, but I do think it is time for him to put his aside his desire for just about the lowest profile in football and explain what his long-term strategy for the club is.

As things stand, Villa look destined to be a mid-table outfit for evermore.

McLeish is probably no happier with that than the Villa faithful are; but surely he deserves to be judged against the record of other Villa managers only when he is given the same opportunities?

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Protesting a manager when your team is 13th in the table would be silly. In fact, it would be self destructive so please think about it first Villains. Just try to think about how it looks from a neutral's point of view. Your team 'ain't that bad yet.

  • Comment number 2.

    I think as Villa fans we want to see attacking inventive football, it seems to me that the team at the moment lack direction and purpose - nobody wants the ball - We want a team that play football from the back, play with confidence and creativity and not be frightened to make mistakes and I am not convinced that the current Manager can do this.

  • Comment number 3.

    give the guy some time? villa fans are just looking for any small excuse to have a go at big eck!!

  • Comment number 4.

    I'm all for giving a manager time, but what worries me (and the Newcastle game summed this up perfectly) is that the belief seems to have disappeared; the players no longer seem to to trust themselves to attack like we know they can. The confidence among the back four is particularly upsetting. Maybe it's McLeish's particular management style being a little too abrasive for the personalities within the squad. We won't know this for sure though.

    Last season was a prime example of why to give a manager time. Once Houllier had made a few signings and got his methods into the team, they actually started playing some very good football. The problem was, yet again, losing our main player(s) and not adequately replacing them.

    Let's see where we are in May before making any rash assessments.

  • Comment number 5.

    Randy Lerner has made two bad managerial decisions

    - Appointing Gerard Houillier whose time at Liverpool was based on 1 calendar year where they won 5 trophies but still failed to stop Man U winning more titles and frustrated tactics based on rigid 4-4-2 and lumping the ball over the defence and using the pace of Owen. He was never accepted by Villa fans and it showed on the pitch.

    Someone like Gareth Southgate would have appealed to the fans more

    - Alex Mcleish - having relegated their bitter rivals this was always contentious particularly if Villa follows suit.

    Martin O' Neill did a great job at Villa but the last straw was when Milner was sold for £30m and he was not allowed to spend any of it.

  • Comment number 6.

    I remember the days of Villa under deadly Doug Ellis where the team based on their previous successes in the 80's thought there was a return with first Atkinson then BRian Little challenging the top 4 and playing attacking football with pace!

    they are another one of those sleeping giants waiting to be revived

    Problem is Mcleish being a defender himself has always been a cautious type manager and it shows in the style Villa plays

    Having said that it does seem teams are rolling Villa over very easily. Just looking at them on MOTD it seems like their defence is very fragile with constant chances for the opposing teams

  • Comment number 7.

    As a Villa fan, I think it's important to point out why there is a feeling amongst us that there should be a protest... Yes we may lie mid-table, but the truth of it is, we're closer to relegation form than we are to progressing to safety.

    It's impossible to compare Mcleish to MON based on the fact that he's had less money to spend; he inherited a far more talented and capable squad than MON did. He also had a goalscoring Striker capable of 20 goals a season at his disposal; something MON never had and still achieved 6th place.

    Don't get me wrong; MON had his faults. He never used substitutes, refused to blood our young talent and wasted millions on players he never played, or played them out of position. I personally blame him for the majority of the problems we've got right now. Lerner backed him (and must take some blame) to the hilt; and let us purchase players that weren't up to the job and were way overpaid for the privilege of sitting on the bench. Sidwell, Curtis Davies, Beye are just a few that spring to mind.

    The reason villains want to protest is because we were dead set against him becoming manager from the start; not because he was a Birmingham city manager, but because of his record. He'd JUST gotten one of the most talented B'ham city teams relegated, not to mention one of the worst records in the SPL with Rangers. Everything our noisy neighbours said about negative football has become true.

    His tactics are negative. He'd rather not lose a match than win it. He's always got an excuse for everything, and it's always the players fault (who must take some of the blame), and he clearly is losing the dressing room.

    We know what we're worth, we know what the club is worth and we know that if something doesn't improve swiftly, that we'll slide into an abyss when we should have been taking the next step.

    Lerner most certainly needs to answer questions over why he let MON spend so much, why he took such a gamble on Houllier with health problems, and why he appointed the worst possible candidate we as fans could have chosen for Villa. Mcleish isn't a bad bloke, he was just never right for the job.

  • Comment number 8.

    The money may have 'dried up' Steve, but look at O'Neill's squad when he left Villa, bar Gabby Agbonlahor he had purchased every, and I mean every, 1st team squad member. Including Zat Knight for £4 Million (& Selling Cahill for £5), Harewood for £4mil, Beye for £3mil, NRC for £8mil. He'd spent his fair share.

    'Big Eck' is a different scenario. He's taken the Blues down twice playing dire football and we are heading the same way. The fans are right, we need him out now.

    UTV #Bigeckforengland

  • Comment number 9.

    Once again the BBC fail to lay any blame for our current demise at the feet of Martin O'Neill. He overspent on average players, who were generally hitting the wrong side of 30, and on big wages.

    You compare the start of O'Neill's reign with that of McLeish's, but what has not been addressed, is the different in quality of the two squads. The squad Alex McLeish inherited is far superior to the one that Martin O'Neill inherited.

    Randy Lerner invested heavily during his time here, especially during O'Neill's reign, and for his dedication to be put in question is wrong. Lerner and O'Neill gambled heavily to break in to the top four. That gamble didn't pay off, and cut backs had to be made. That was obvious. Lerner had the determination, and the balls to take on the challenge, O'Neill did not. O'Neill left this club in a poor situation, and to merely walk away so soon to the start of the season is highly unproffesional. Of course, the BBC's darling can't be to blame for our demise.

    Onto McLeish - it was the wrong decision from the start. It has nothing to do with the fact that he used to manage our rivals, it's the fact that he's a defensive manager, who doesn't have the right mentality to lead a club as big as Aston Villa. We should call it quits now. No, I can't see us getting relegated this season, but getting a new manager in now would give him time to assess the squad, and to build on it for next season.

    The fact that McLeish has alienated three of the most talented players in the squad (Ireland, N'Zogbia, and Makoun) shows he's not up to the job.

  • Comment number 10.

    Agree with the Gerald Houllier comment. As a liverpool fan, disgusted with our manager and the suarez saga, Houllier made the ultimate signing after France 98. If you recall Arsene Wenger brought in Thierry Henry and who did the magician Houllier sign........Bernard Diomede!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 11.

    O'Neill was great but he left us with a host of squad players (bought for £6-10m with good wages) that sat on the bench for several seasons and were worthless by the time they were to be moved on. He did well with A Young, Milner and Downing but we had a really good crop of youngsters coming through that didn't get opportunities. The money dried up because O'Neill spent big and did well with our 1st XI short-term but didn't get any return on the investment or proper squad depth through rotation. Ironically, the one person we needed all along was the person we invested in after he left... Darren Bent. We should have gone for him when he left Spurs and we were on the cusp of Champions League qualification. Him with service from the likes of Barry, Milner, Young and later Downing would've been very tasty. As it is, the money is gone and we have to finally blood our youngsters. There will be a couple of seasons of mediocrity whilst the wage bill is brought under control but I think we'll be back in the top 8 and higher if we have a bit of patience.

    There's no point getting rid of McLeish until we can offer a new manager better tools for the job, who would we go for anyway? Tbh, I wanted to give Chris Hughton a chance at Villa after his excellent job at Newcastle. Where did he end up again?... Doing quite well too I think considering they had a European venture to rack up the games.

  • Comment number 12.

    Thing is Lerner didn't appoint O'Neill, Doug Ellis arranged his appointment before he left. We'll never know why he left Aston Villa when and the way he did, but the fact that the dispute between the two was settled out of court doesn't look good for Lerner, while O'Neill has gone on to prove what an exceptional manager he is.
    Lerner's next two managerial decisions (disregarding the caretaker) have been shambolic. Houllier, who helped preside over the France debacle at the last world cup, came in and professed his love of Liverpool and his contempt of the previous managers tactics only to leave due to his dodgy health. And then to McCleish, who's record isn't all that, i don't understand why he's so well rated by some. His signings at Rangers and Birmingham have generally been poor. To relegate the same team twice in 3 yeras and then be rewarded with a position back in the top league raises parallels with bankers getting bonus' while an economy collapses.

  • Comment number 13.

    Excellent article and a very poignant comparison with O'Neil - ie only 1 point better off under O'N after 24 games but ironicall 1 place higher in the league. I wouold not have appointed 'Big 'Eck' and was always never really a fan. I don't support Villa but I think he has behaved with dignity and they have not done too badly! It certainly could be a lot worse. As for N'Zogbia he is just bad news. A silly petulant baby who will be trouble wherever he goes. The players need to get a grip too. There was a 'revolt' under Houllier and this is unacceptable in the modern era - too many 'Terrylike' egos who overrate their ability and influence. I wish Villa well - they have some very good players with really exciting prospects of Clark, Agbonlahor, Albrighton, Gardner and Bannan. Shay Given is the best GK for me and a great pro. There is an enormous amount of potential.

  • Comment number 14.

    Give Mcleish a chance, Has not had the money or the backing from you so called fans, if your a real villa supporter get behind your manager and team and we might see better results,
    Qoute from above .
    Ah yes, those were the days - when, in their first 24 games under O'Neill, they had 29 points and sat 14th in the table. ????
    And stop letting PLAYERS talk nonesense on websites he gets paid a fortune so Charles N'Zogbia should do his talking on the pitch, what a waste of space he is. Mcleish has never had a chance since he took the job, everyone was on his back from day 1. so really i blame the fans that are out to get him, putting a downer on the whole team. Until mcleish has been given all the oppurtunities Onile had - then I will judge his abilities as amanger until then get behind your team and stop whininig

  • Comment number 15.

    i think its a beautiful thing to see the way villa are playing under Big Eck !! the negative defensive football with player unrest and a boozed up captain (RD). Keep Eck where he is and we can pass eachother at the end of the season. KRO

  • Comment number 16.

    Mcleish has been given more than half a season to prove that he has learned nothing from his previous appointments about playing anything but negative football; thestigno1. Your derisive comments only show you to know little of the subject.

    N'Zogbia was played out of position for most of the season; and as soon as he's played on the left where he belongs, he's expected to be a world beater. We've got a terrible central midfield, so he's not exactly got much to work with.

    I never understand how anyone can criticise fans for thinking what they do of their own team/situations... We're the ones who attend the games, read every article, discuss every point; so I think that qualifies us somewhat to have that opinion.

  • Comment number 17.

    Most Blues fans were astonished that Villa did not do their due diligence on McLeish. His failings were pretty obvious and were only covered up by the luck of being able to name an unchanged team that worked well together at a crucial part in our 2009/10 season. The contrast with Hughton cannot be greater in terms of strategy, tactics and team motivation. We can't believe our luck!

  • Comment number 18.

    As previously mentioned, many of the problems Villa face stem from the waste during the O' Neill reign in which £138.8 million was spent on transfer fees. This figure was only exceeded by Man. City during the same period.

    Any criticism directed at Randy Lerner is completely unfounded; he has lavished £200 million of his own fortune on the club, made the decision to raised the profile of the Acorns Children's Hospice by sanctioning their logo on our kit (2008-2010 season), has almost tripled club turn-over in 5 years, kept the prices of match tickets to some of the lowest in the league and has overseen construction of the world-class Bodymoor Heath training facility.

    He is an astute gentleman and we are fortunate not to have people like Gold & Sullivan/Venkys for owners. For anyone arguing against reigning in club spending, read the following article.

    http://www.123people.co.uk/ext/frm?ti=person%20finder&search_term=randy%20lerner&search_country=GB&st=person%20finder&target_url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.guardian.co.uk%2Ffootball%2F2011%2Fmar%2F01%2Faston-villa-randy-lerner-accounts&section=news&wrt_id=136

    Regarding comments on Mcleish, he has cleared some of the deadwood from the club, demonstrated his man-management abilities by returning Ireland to form, introduced many promising youth players to the first team, and has made shrewd acquisitions (albeit Hutton, who has been woeful) such as Given and Keane.

    Villa supports seem to have a propensity to whine and moan and are desperately grasping at reasons to call for McLeish's resignation (such as N' Zogbias Twitter post).

    Give him time and get behind the club.

  • Comment number 19.

    It was never going to be easy for him. Villa is a club in transition right now, we are not a top six club anymore as we will not pay the salaries or buy the quality to maintain that standard so Man Utd, Man City, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal and Spurs with one team or so a season trying to challenge them will always be the norm in the top six.

    MON wasted million’s of Lerner’s money, he jumped ship and left us with a lot of dross, end of life and overpaid players on long term contracts. Lerner was conned by MON and you can understand why he wants to cut the wage bill. If it were your money, you would do the exact same thing.

    The best we can look to achieve this season is top 10 competing with the likes of Everton, Stoke, Sunderland, etc. and an occasional challenge within the top six in the seasons ahead, but to do that we have to have a better team and a better support that is behind the team and manager.

    Forget who the manager is for now but I will come back to him, think about what needs to happen when you are put into this position. You are told to reduce the overall wage budget but also raise funds to change out the overpaid players to get in new players with better technical ability and fight to make sure we are at least a team to be feared and you have to do this without the two best players from last season who had provided most of the assists for your top goal scorer to score.

    So on to the manager and what we have achieved so far.
    This season after 24 games we are on 28 points, won 6 drawn 10 lost 8, goals for 29, goals against 33.
    Last season after 24 games we had 28 points, won 7 drawn 7 lost 10, goals for 27, goals against 40.
    So we have won one less game, lost fewer games, drawn more games, scored 2 more goals, 7 goals less scored against us.

    As for the performances, playing style and results. I look at each game and score it the following Green, Amber or Red. I decide this on many factors such as Green is not always a win or that a red is not always a loss it can be playing away from home and getting a good result like a draw against a strong team or playing at home and not playing well would get a red or amber depending who we where playing. So far out of 24 games I have scored 9 Greens, 7 Ambers and 8 Reds. Look at the 24 results and performances and see if you disagree.

    Do I think there is gradual improvement in the teams performances, Yes, but we are inconsistent. I think when Agbonlahor, Albrighton and Herd come back we can improve on our performances. The key stat for me will be how many points will we have after 30 games. Last year we achieved 33 points from 30 games. So our next 6 games are really key.

  • Comment number 20.

    When I heard that McLeash was appointed Villa manager I thought it smacked of desparation from the outset. It suggested to me that the villa board's main ambition for season 2011/12 stretched no further than remaining in the Premiership, and to do that they had to appoint someone whose main strength was to battle. Forget about flair, forget about the beautiful game - these are luxuries the villa board never had the vision for. In steps McLeash. Yes the man whose previous club played the most negative football known to man. And guess what - they were relegated! I predicted at the beginning of the season following McLeashes appointment villa fans should expect no more than a dog fight at the bottom of the league. And that is with all the gifted players he inherited, and turned into mindless sloggers!

  • Comment number 21.

    So johnny2005uk (post at 12.45) thinks Villans are justified in protesting because they are "in danger of sliding into the abyss" and Steve Wilson thinks Lerner has "just about the lowest profile in football"?

    Well, think what it's like to be a fan of another "founder member" of the Football League Blackburn Rovers these days.

    Not just in severe danger of relegation under a manager infinitely less competent that Big 'Eck, but with owners who now definitely have a lower profile than Lerner, in fact, owners who no-one has heard from since mid-November! Owners who have stripped the heart out of the club, players and administrators alike, and put in so little of their own money (that they promised) that the financial future of the club is now at major risk.

    Yet, when Blackburn supporters protest (with their club in an immeasurably worse position than Villa) they are vilified by the media. Why? With what justification, other than ignorance?

    So, go on Villa fans, protest and let's see what response you get from the media. Bet it doesn't bear any resemblance to the nonsense that has been said and printed about fans of BRFC. And we'll check our respective League positions at the end of this dreadful season.

  • Comment number 22.

    Yet, when Blackburn supporters protest (with their club in an immeasurably worse position than Villa) they are vilified by the media. Why? With what justification, other than ignorance?

    -----------------------

    Would that be the same ignorance that had Steve Kean admit that he started to fear for his own safety at work? Lovely people.

    Clubs like Villa, Blackburn, Wigan and the rest outwith the top 4 really should just accept that they are rarely going to win anything and that they are just making up the numbers for the big boys.

  • Comment number 23.

    johnny2005uk -

    Think Rujzamein @ 14.07 & avtrue @ 14.08

    Hit the nail on the head mate, Start Backing your team,

  • Comment number 24.

    For all Celtic fans loved him MON did exactly the same at Celtic - older players on big wages and no chance of transfer recoup. The problem villa have is do you want to play more expansive football and more likely get relegated ? eg. Blackpool, Wigan, Reading - or be defensive set piece specialists - Stoke, Bolton (pre Coyle) but likely stay up. If the EPL tv cash didn't distort the league structure so much - maybe teams would be more willing to play attractive football without the financial Armageddon of being relegated - plus then we might have our good PL sides actually try and win the FA/Carling cups - not much chance of beating the satellite tho.....

  • Comment number 25.

    Rob04, if you believe anything that Steve Kean says, you have a serious problem! Kean's words were part of a concerted PR campaign against his own fans and had no basis in truth. Our protests have been pre-arranged with the police and at no time has anyone's personal safety been compromised.

    If you don't believe me, then check out local MP Graham Jones, who reported yesterday to a Parliamentary Committee on sport, and mentioned this outrageous and totally unjustified slur by the impostor purporting to be a football manager at Ewood.

    By the way, MP Jones also raised laughter when he reported some of Kean's other comments - like Bruno Ribeiro, the 28-year old Brazilian full-back he signed on a 3-year contract who has yet to even feature on the bench for the first team, and whom Kean described as "the next Dennis Irwin"! Laugh? I thought I'd never start!

  • Comment number 26.

    What made me laugh last summer was the absolute outrage of the Villa fans about the impending appointment of Steve McLaren and then the ended up with McLeish. Frankly, it serves them right.

    I like Villa always have, but they need some perspective. O'Neill over achieved with the team, much like he is now doing at my beloved Sunderland (long may it continue), and they are not going to be one of the top 6 teams in the country with the amount of money that is being spent at the top of the Premier league. The best they can hope for (as with so many teams) is a place in the top 8 and a good cup run here or there.

  • Comment number 27.

    McLeish is terrible even though I don't believe Villa are anywhere near a top 6 side nowadays

    Randy Learner - surely there are better things to waste money on?

  • Comment number 28.

    #25
    You would automatically ignore this claim though?

    And automatically believe any MP with an agenda to push! Perhaps Parliamentary Committee's should decide managerial appointments?

  • Comment number 29.

    #28
    You believe what you want to, Rob04. I know what's happened to my club - and I'm absolutely livid that the powers that be should allow such a situation to arise. We will soon be where Portsmouth are now, unless we can mount some sort of a rescue (backed by more than one MP, whose "agenda" as you put it is merely to save a club they happen to support) and persuade these Indian buffoons to see sense and get out of football altogether.

  • Comment number 30.

    I think it's a little early to start protesting, after all whilst we aren't in great from or in anyway safe of a relegation fight we are better off than a few and it's not exactly what I would call a crisis, yet.

    On the other hand even the most open minded of villa fans were going to be wary of a manager like McLiesh, one who had been relegated 2/3 of his previous seasons. Nothing really to do with the Birmingham City link, if he had been great for city our gloating and smugness would have been unbearable for Smallheath. He needed a great start and was handed a fixture list that any new manager would die for. So i renewed my season ticket willing to give this questionable manager a chance and was met with some of the dullest games i had ever seen, i actually felt bored for the first time at Villa park. I have been angry, disappointed, sometimes ashamed over the years but never bored to this degree. This has abated recently with some 'better' if not brilliant football, however McLeish needed to start well to dispel preconceptions. He didn't it started boring went appalling for a time and has gotten a little better recently (if we can forget the swansea game).

    He is tactically 1 dimensional, makes some bizarre substitutions, doesn't seem to have the contacts to bring in great signings on the cheap (pardew esque), seems to lack the charisma to keep players happy and it's not unusual to see him arguing with them during games. He regularly makes a mess of post match interviews, pointing blame at youngsters or praising poor performances, or failing that just falls back on old cliches must be tighter must be more clinical etc...

    He seems to lack any real capabilities as a top flight manager, but we have a decent squad (lacking in a few areas but worthy of a mid table if not slightly higher) who I think even McLeish can keep up and we are out of all the cups, so I am inclined to just coast out this season. People will draw parallels with houllier last season but we were ravaged by injuries last season and houllier had no real chance to asses the team and get get his own player in but come january he bought in 2 new guys and we looked a lot better and towards the end we were playing some great football. If McLeish can get us motoring by the end of the season and get some positivity back to villa he might see another season but at this point i just don't see it.

  • Comment number 31.

    #29
    If there are issues with the 'fit and proper person's test' to owning a club then that is one aspect. If there are issues with 'consultations' with fans then that is another. If the problem is that you have a poor manager and want to avoid relegation, well football is a competitive business and some have to lose. And where would a club like Blackburn find another 'sugar daddy'? If its about replacing this model with fan ownership then good luck to you all.

  • Comment number 32.

    There is general apathy around Villa Park at present. I think most Villa fans feel that the flirtation of trying to get into the top 4 is well and truly over and basically we are back to the later Doug era of steady as she goes mid table blandness. I know lots of club would be very happy with this (Leeds, Sheffield Wednesday et al) but when Mr Lerner came in spending money all over the place we didn’t quite think this would be the ‘bright future’ after the ‘proud history’. Lerner has done a good job but events (losing chunks of his family fortune, Man City) have played a part to our decline in the past 2 seasons. I don’t know if Mr Lerner ever thought he would make money on Villa but for us to be successful at this current era we would have to post huge losses to compete with the top teams. He probably thinks it is just not worth it.

    Even writing as a Villa fan basically at present we are just not big enough or rich enough to compete at the top on a sustainable footing. This is a sad situation as we are still the biggest club in the second biggest city in the country. Lerner wants to reduce his huge spend on the club and our support base is dropping to the mid 30,000’s. This is still good support but we need to be reaching 40,000 plus gates to ever warrant the North Stand expansion which would generate a lot of potential income. We can’t charge London ticket prices but our support at present is not at the Newcastle- Man U level to balance this.

    McLeish is the symptom of the problem- brought in to do an okay job on (relatively) small resources. If we are ever to do well again we need to spend smart and recruit players abroad like Newcastle and not overspend on good-to-average players like the O’Neill era. I am not sure if McLeish can do this but we will see. We have to give him next season I think and write this one off. The fan protests and over reported tweets on players is just background noise to the issue.

  • Comment number 33.

    phil the rover, blackburn werent vilified for protesting, they were vilified for how you went about it. before or after a game fine protest you have right but for steve kean to suffer the abuse he did during, (YES DURING), the bolton game was horrible, disgusting and just low. no other clubs fans do that they go about it properly so before you talk about anyone else being ignorant look at yourself and what you just said cus you are WRONG!!! however bad kean is he didnt deserve that what he got in the bolton game when its the owners that are the real problem.

    as for villa oh who cares their fans still think they are a big club. big clubs win stuff or are at least consistently in the top 4. villa have done neither for decades. mcleish does what he has to with the resources hes got, lerner does whats right for the club so villa fans get over yourselves. you aint going down but youre not a top 8 team..... mid table is where you belong+

  • Comment number 34.

    As a villa fan I would point out firstly that many of us are profoundly embarrassed at the moaning and whining over the last few years. MON did make some bizarre signings that are indeed costing us now, but he was still the best manager we have had in a decade and lifted us above our station so I would never have complained. Houllier was never given a chance which was frankly ludicrous.

    However, having said all that, mcleish does appear to be tactically inept and I don't think I've disliked a villa manager as much since dr josef venglos!!we have a very talented young squad and we will surely get better with time, even under mcleish, I just think that might happen quicker under someone else!

  • Comment number 35.

    I think that Mcleish was a bad appointment for Villa and his appointment has really alienated some fans(myself included).On the occasions I have been at VP this year the football has been poor and the crowd apathetic.

    The football has improved lately but our defence is poor..very poor and if Mcleish hasn't got the balls to drop Dunne,Warnock and (the awful) Hutton then he is to blame.He keeps knocking the confidence of younger players such as Albrighton but I can't recall him slating the above three.

    I think the protest is to early and the best way to protest is to simply stop going to the games,which many people have been doing.Lerner has been misguided with his last two appointments at Villa and needs to either remove Mcleish or give funds to bolster the squad over the summer.

    I as Villa fan just want to see some entertaining football...

  • Comment number 36.

    Cmon you Villians you know 'Big Eck' is exactly the right manager for you...we really miss him at St. Andrews...long may he remain in charge at your place. 10% down at the gates? Surprises me it isn't a much higher percentage with the much celebrated and 'fickle' fans to be found at Villa Park. KRO

  • Comment number 37.

    Eck is not a PL manager he simply cant cut it, fans wont pay to go and see boring football they want to be entertained for the price of there ticket. Lerner has now pulled the plug on the money and lost his desire for the club, if we had of kept Barry, Milner ,Young, Downing along with Bent and the young blood we wud now have been a force to deal with ...Randy where is our "bright future" ??

  • Comment number 38.

    Here's the thing(s):
    1) O'Leary did not get anywhere near the money that O'Neill was blessed with.
    2) O'Neill lost 50 million on the transfer market but never did better than 6th (same as O'Leary).
    3) McLeish must have talked his way into this job. Why should a club as big and famous as Aston Villa have to take on a politically incorrect managerial hire who had just dropped his former team into the Championship mire???
    4) Might as well give DOL another go - couldn't be any worse off than we are now!

  • Comment number 39.

    Villa have been on the decline since Ellis handed over the reigns to Lerner. Lerner isn't interested in the football club winning anything. He runs it like a business. Look at the players he has sold recently: Barry, Milner, A.Young, Carew, Downing and on and on...That's half a side challenging for European homours right there. Good players won't want to come to Villa and don't wan't to stay at Villa as long as it's run by a tight fisted septic tank like Lerner who knows nothing about English football and didn't think it wrong to hire McLeish...

  • Comment number 40.

    Absolutely Mcleish is the problem. I don't care that he was a former Blue-Nose. What disqualifies him more was that he took them down and playing negative football.

    The reason Mcleish must go is that he has no clue what he is doing. I can accept a 'season of transition' if we were blooding our talented youngsters and building for the future but the fact is he insists on playing 30+ journeymen while he leaves the young talent to rot. We need to clear out the dead wood - Petrov/Heskey/Dunne/Hutton/Warnock/Collins and give our youngsters a chance. Bannan is the playmaker we have been missing for the last 10 years. Build a team around him, with Gardner/Delph/Albrighton/Herd/Lihaj/Clark in support. Add them to Agbonlahor and Bent and we have a top 10 team. We have the players, we are just not using them. We will end up losing them all for peanuts, the way we lost Gary Cahill and others.

    The way we are set up at the moment with just 2 central midfielders, we are effectively playing a 6-0-4 formation, with the midfield sucked into the defence and the ball being lumped down the field to the forwards. Mcleish has zero tactical nous and not even the support of the players it seems. Time for him to go and for us to bring in an a manager with potential. I'd vote for Gus Poyet or possibly Roberto de Matteo.

 

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