Writer: J P Fear
Date:Wednesday April 26 2006
Sack another manager, Ellis off the hook, will the problem go away?
Of course it won't.
Why can't fans see this?
Nothing changed much from before last night, we had Mellberg back, dominated the first half and but for some decent saves, and poor striking went in 0-0. They changed their formation, our midfield disappears and holds off a player running into space, he crosses, our captain holds off and off against a player he must have played against a million times and one shot one goal.
Even then with them on top we break away Barry allowed a more advanced role does superbly to beat two players shoots, hits the target and Phillips scores from the rebound, off side.
Relegation suddenly becomes a reality according to some.
Could O'Leary have done more? Could anyone have done more?
No an emphatic NO.
The problem stems from a summer in which promises were made and not kept. From a January transfer window where promises were not kept, from a manager who planned a campaign based on rules and promises that were changed at the whim of his Chairman, and ruined by not being able to play his first XI even in the death throws of the season.
I can remember the uproar towards the end of last season when O'Leary suggested that the youth coming through just weren't good enough, well he was right they haven't been, Ridgewell has been an unmitigated disaster and Samuel hasn't been far behind. Even Moore has shown all the good and bad qualities of his brother, on his day he's as good as the best, the other 95% of the season he's not even ordinary. Thankfully the same can't be said for Gaby who like Davis last season looks to be the genuine article.
Sorensen excluded, every top player including Davis has suffered some form of long term injury, Berger and Phillips as a result didn't provide the sort of long term off the bench security they were bought for. Laursen remains the biggest setback to the team, although like Bouma, I'm still not totally convinced of his long term Premiership credentials. Dj2 and Berson remain O'Leary's flagellum, huge disappointments in a side in desperate need of them both, but when you have funds one day and need to sell players to fund transfers the next its hard to plan consistently especially when your main failure has been to have carried out the Chairman's plans to reduce squad sizes below manageable levels.
O'Leary's failure has nothing to do with player manipulation, with tactics, with motivation, he's shown in two previous seasons he can get results with poorer squads, his failure has been his high degree of naivety in following Ellis' requests to the letter and expecting Ellis to keep his part of the plan.
His own arrogance, in himself, has led him to alienate the one group who could have made this awful season bearable, the fans, he'd already alienated the media during his days at Leeds during the Woodgate and Co trials, and subsequent break-up of Leeds. Sadly he realised it too late and as a result will no doubt suffer come the last match of the season, especially if the miracle of St Andrews does occur and Blues manage to win their two remaining matches by enough goals, the full backlash of a highly frustrated fan base, most of whom fully understand he's not the cause just the symptom of one of the most diabolically incompetent men in modern day soccer.
I ask again though exactly what difference will a new manager bring?
Going on the latest comments little or no money will be available come the summer, so players will have to be sold to finance a rebuild of the team. Even assuming Baros, Mellberg, Sorensen, have good world cups, that Barry, Davis, Moore, Hendrie, DLC,Delaney, Angel have clubs interested enough to buy them what sort of manager will know without playing each player beforehand who to sell or keep?
What sort of manager would do so based on the knowledge that all money received, not only has to buy new replacements it also has to bring the squad up to a reasonable level?
Can we survive with a defence of Taylor, Samuel, Hughes, Ridgewell, Cahill, Laursen maybe and no cover?
So bringing in Unsworth, Stubbs quality players is going to help. No way, never in a million years.
How about the midfield? Is a new manager going to get more out of Whittingham, Gardener, Berger, assuming he doesn't retire, McCann who should retire, or is he going to find for next to nothing some 3 to 4 new finds for nowt?
Dream on if you think that's likely.
Now up front, with luck we'll still have Phillips, Gaby and maybe Moore. Good enough for a Premiership survival campaign you must be joking. Maybe this new managerial genius will find 2 to 3 players here too capable of scoring 10-15 goals a season each against the likes of anyone above us presently in the Premiership.
Maybe I can't believe its possible I really can't.
So where is the hope for next season?
Can O'Leary or any other manager turn things around. If no major player is sold and another run of injuries like last season doesn't occur maybe, but that's not what's going to happen is it. O'Leary must be the sacrificial lamb, someone like Royle or lower a Division unknown will after a much prolonged search as is the Ellis way, not do much better, he just won't have time or money or I'd guess any backing from the remains of the squad.
One thing is certain though, come the season start, no matter what happens, player change, manager change or whatever, the usual suspects in the fan pool will be shouting loud their expectations of a top 5 finish, of being able to compete for Distin, Ronaldinho, and their likes, of blaming Ellis for the lack of funds and VFC for not representing the fans. How right have they been proved, all ye who pooh poohed Jon Fear and his mate's efforts last season, so now we are going to organise an O'Leary shaming day eh, good luck, no doubt none of you will realise just how ridiculous you will appear to the masses, who to be honest don't really care anymore.
That in itself is a major marketing problem for Villa. If someone came in and stripped the club to its bare bones, and closed it down few where it really matters would care, they are so pissed with the continual merry go round of new manager whinging fans, failure, new manager, whinging fans and so on.
I won't be getting a season ticket next year no matter what Ellis's scheming and bribery have in store for the summer, I don't advise anyone else to either, not until after the AGM anyway.
You will of course Championship or no.
Date:Wednesday April 26 2006
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