Dear David O'Leary
The publication recently of your thoughts on communications from Villa fans causes us, the undersigned, some concern.
Firstly, your intimation is that the typical Villa fan's memory takes him back just to the glory years of 1980-82. We would like to point out that there are many Villa fans around whose memory clearly goes back to the mid-1950s. However, it's not necessary to go back so far to those particular fairly bleak days, but to slightly more recent times - 1966 to 1974 - when the club went through its bleakest of days, but then rose like a phoenix into some wonderful playing times.
In short, there are many who clearly remember the depths of despair towards the end of the sixties, after 35 years of the club usually going the wrong way, when Villa might just have disappeared from view.
We do not want a repeat of those days.
Since the late-1980s, we have had a reasonable number of entertaining years and a little glory, and we have seen a number of managers come and go. With most of those managers, we feel that the club at least was able to field a team that wanted to play, who entertained and often gave us unexpected thrills. Since the turn of the new Millennium, we feel that the Villans have been short-changed, and that there has been a downward spiral.
In the times since your good self became manager, there was an uncertain start followed by a good deal of hope generated from some unexpected performances that took us to the League Cup Semis, plus other results including the first top-level 5-0 away win for 70 years, and a finish of 6th.
With difficult financial circumstances for you and the team (plus injuries), the 6th place of 2003/04 became 10th place last season. After spending a net £15m at the start of this season, you stated that you expected the club to be challenging for Europe this season and you have made reference to the sad season of 2002/03, when the club came close to relegation. You have stated that you are not a 'chequebook manager'.
To-day, the club stands in 14th place and is only two places above the 2002/03 'near relegation' place. The team generally performs badly at home (and is often sterile away also, despite results), two players in
particular have dropped their form alarmingly over the last two years (JLloyd Samuel and Juan Pablo Angel), and the general feeling is that the £15m net spend should have taken us far more up the table than what it has.
Further, we have had the shocking situation prior to January this year when the club was knocked out of three successive cup competitions by lower league opposition, and deservedly so, each time we conceding three goals.
In the last match in the FA Cup at Villa Park, the fans were treated to the poorest first-half performance by a Villa team in probably 35 years or more. And the second half was not a great improvement.
Since clubs such as Bolton and Wigan have achieved a standing this season we think should have been easily achievable by the Villa (and Bolton consistently so), we wonder why there has not at least been more determination shown - and footballing method to go with it - for our great club to be at least up there with the two clubs just mentioned. We could also mention West Ham, Manchester City and Charlton.
We are not happy with the quality of team performances taking place. The players are not, in our opinion, by any means poor players, but they often seem to lack the confidence that a good management team should be able to
instil in them. It is not so much a question of how much extra cash you should be given - it is a question of what you can do with what is there.
In our opinion.
We look forward to improved performances under your guidance, and a better than 10th position finish.
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