Writer: J P Fear
Date:Monday December 18 2006
In summing up the “Saunders Years” did he leave as a legacy at Villa?
In a recent Interview by one of Villas former players and legend Tony Morley. He states the following about his former manager:-
“Villa now have the chance to pay homage to the finest manager in the clubs history. Ron Saunders left Villa under unfortunate circumstances, had he stayed I have no doubt that Aston Villa and not Liverpool would have been the team of the 80’s”
Saunders resigned when he found out his contract had been modified by the then Chairman Ron Bendall.
*If memory serves me right Saunders wanted to keep his three year rolling contract*. Bendall left the club in late 82, I often wonder if the fall out with Saunders helped to make his mind up with regard to his future at the club.
Morley continues:- “I liked Ron he was ruthless but always for the right reasons. He is also Interested to see how Ron Saunders will react to meeting Ellis again, Ellis who left as Chairman earlier this year after selling the club to Randy Lerner has had an uneasy relationship with some of the players from the team of 1980-82 and did not always see eye to eye with Saunders.'
Ellis was Chairman from 1968 to 1979 and again from 1982 to 2006 either side of Villas most successful period in recent years. Visitors to Villa Park and Bodymoor Heath are often surprised there are NOT too many photograph of the Championship and European Cup winning sides.
For me personally as a Villa Supporter I never got the chance to say “Thank you” to Ron Saunders for what he gave me as a Villa Supporter through his time at the club. He was there one minute and gone the next.
The club owes Saunders a debt of gratitude for what he achieved during the “Saunders Years” Moreover, I hope on Saturday he is delighted with the reception he receives on his return to Villa Park. There will be grown men shedding tears as the memories of Morley, Mortimer Withe and Shaw come flooding back across the pitch. I hope he goes’ onto the pitch one more time for the Thank You he never got 24 long years ago.
Ron Saunders has been badly treated by the Management of Aston Villa for far too long, even in the Aston Villa History “A Complete Record “ Ron Saunders achievements are not as fully recognised as they should have been. The sad thing for me on a personal level is if he had been left alone to manage the Villa team he could have achieved much much more than he did and his legacy could have matched that of Bill Shankley, Bob Paisley, Brian Clough and Sir Alex Ferguson, the Name Ron Saunders should have been allowed to have the chance to be up there with the all time greats of English football Management.
This is not the whole story, many people may have differing memories and should write them down and post them. Some say he was a dour man, this has mainly come from the press of the day who Ron Saunders had scant regard for and cared not they painted a picture of a morose manager.
Date:Monday December 18 2006
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