Writer: J P Fear
Date:Sunday April 23 2006
The talk amongst the press is that David O'Leary will be either walking or sacked following the Sunderland game. The whispers - and I've no idea how true they are - is that O'Leary will leave in order to save his own reputation unless something happens about the Ellis situation. Further to that and despite protestations from Aaron Hughes and the like, the talk still suggests the dressing room at Aston Villa is far from happy with the O'Dreary reign.
There is a report in the Sunday Mirror today by Ralph Ellis (no relation!) saying that Doug is ready to axe the manager following a 7% drop in attendances (amounting to a £1million drop in revenue) this season. It seems obvious if David O'Leary (and Ellis) remain next season, that season ticket sales will plummet and we can look forward to far easier parking on match days as the club see more sub 30 000 attendances. Villa Park has only been above 40 000 twice this season (Liverpool and Birmingham City). So not even the lure of Manchester United, Chelsea or Arsenal could tempt some of the Villa faithful who have frankly had enough of the mediocrity served up.
O'Leary has had a bad time of it this season with injuries but has done nothing - until it was too late anyway - to ingratiate himself with the fans and has on several occasions turned on us. The 'get real' and 'sugarbag' statements spring to mind, as does his pathetic saluting to Doug Ellis after both Birmingham City derbies. To salute the berk that most people blame for holding this great club back will never do a manager any favours - especially when he should be saluting the long suffering fans. He also upset some when he said he would love to do a fans forum as he gets on with the fans so well but that he hadn't been invited. That was a blatant lie and liars never succeed - not unless they are good at it at least.
Anyway, the report suggests that the board are now actively talking about his replacement as O'Leary no longer has any allies at Villa or anywhere else by the looks of it. He's blamed and annoyed referees, pitches, fans, players, a local reporter, sugar bags etc. Just not himself it seems.
Ralph Ellis suggests that Martin O'Neill is top of the 'wish list' and I for one would party for months if we could pull off the miracle of attracting such a fantastic manager to Villa Park. The main thing in our favour is - according to some members of the press - that he wants to get back into the game but to remain in the Midlands for personal reasons. Obviously that puts us ahead of Newcastle who are without a manager and possibly Middlesbrough should they lose McClaren to the England job. The major factor against us is Doug Ellis and the uncertainty with the 'takeover' situation.
Gordon Strachan has also been mentioned several times recently. I hope will never set foot in Villa Park after sticking up for Ellis and slagging off the fans! Alan Curbishley is another after he suggested it might be time for him to move on whether he gets the England job or not. Trouble with Curbs is that he said he didn't enjoy his time as a player at Villa and loved it at the Blues. Not the best of starts!
We can also expect other big names like Sven, Allardyce and the like to be mentioned with the guarantee that we will end up with some no-mark who is cheap and available. Graeme Souness springs to mind!
O'Leary is certainly under pressure and needs to win against Manchester City on Tuesday night (7.45pm kick off) to prevent him taking the record for the least amount of league wins in the Prem for Villa. He is also still six points short of the 45 needed to equal our worst ever Premiership tally. Looks a tall order to better that as we face Man City (h), Liverpool (a) and then Sunderland on the last day of the season. This will also be only the 3rd time Villa have finished outside the top ten since the Prem started having come second in the inaugural year.
O'Leary still insists he is the right man for the job though saying: 'People told me before I took the job not to touch it with a barge-pole, and I knew what they meant then and I know it still now. I still meet those same people who told me I was doolally to take the job and they say, 'I told you so'. But I'm determined to do it right. I know what this football club can do.' Adding: 'If you want a smooth ride don't go into management. And if you want a really smooth ride, don't be Aston Villa manager!'
Lets face it, he treats the club with no respect and gets none back. Ellis is the main problem at Villa but O'Leary is the most unpopular manager I can remember for many a long year.
No doubt the papers will start telling all and sundry that Ellis has his nickname 'Deadly' for the amount of managers he has sacked whereas it actually came from Spurs legend Jimmy Greaves who said Ellis was 'deadly' at fishing. Quite why I felt the need to share that I have no idea!!
Date:Sunday April 23 2006
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