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Why Villa Fans Should Give McLeish A Break

Why Villa Fans Should Give McLeish A Break

A well thought out article from M. Lawrence:

Martin O`Neill, why Alex McLeish won`t be leaving, and a case in defence.

We`re 10 games away from the end of the season and everyone in claret and blue is ready to kill. Sadly, the knives are still directed towards the man in charge. Many fans still talk about Martin O`Neill and the great things he did for us while at the same time calling for the head of Alex McLeish. I implore you, Villans, to show some faith.

Martin O`Neill

No doubt, the man did some great work when Randy Lerner became chairman and MON was appointed manager. Proud history, bright future. Good times. But in 5 season in charge what did he actually accomplish? We finished top 6 a few times and got a cup final and semi-final. But what did we win?

That`s right, we won nothing. Despite the great football that we played, we still came away empty-handed while he was in charge, and to suggest that we made progress in the time he was here is wrong; the only thing we made were losses. Admittedly, MON made some great signings in Ashley Young, John Carew, James Milner, Stewart Downing and (at the time) Richard Dunne and James Collins.

But look at them now. All of these players have moved on and (aside from Carew unless you count the Championship as a possibility) look to be on their way to winning silverware with their new clubs. For the team that we had, in 5 years we should have won something by then. Still not convinced MON did a poor job? Here are some more facts....

MON spent approximately £140m on transfer fees (lord knows what went on wages) and re-couped around £40m during his time in charge. As a manager, that is an unacceptable amount to lose in 5 years. £100m. £20m a season. Look at the players he signed: Marlon Harewood, Wayne Routledge, Curtis Davies, Nicky Shorey, Nigel Reo-Coker.

For those 5 players with a total fee of nearly £30m, how often were they used? Luke Young, a right-back used to fill in at left-back. Reo-Coker, a midfielder used to fill in at right-back! Nicky Shorey sat on the bench kicking his heels and counting his wages. Steve Sidwell cost around £5.5m - hardly used. To say that the man wasted money is an understatement. Emile Heskey, £3.5m......say no more.

In contrast, he spent this money to replace these players who he deemed unfit to play for Aston Villa.....Peter Whittingham. Gary Cahill. Steven Davis. Craig Gardner. Players who came through the academy and would have bled for the shirt to this day. But I digress.

Why Alex McLeish won`t be leaving

There`s no hard maths in this one. If Randy Lerner paid compensation to the Blues to get him out of his contract, why would he then pay again to do the same thing? It makes no sense. If Alex McLeish did the unthinkable and took us down, that is probably the only situation in which his hand would be forced. It would still leave us out of pocket, but with good reason.

hand to mouth calling

McLeish has reiterated several times this season that he is able to take the stick we give him on the chin, is thick-skinned and is determined to make our club great again. It may be the usual cliché, but what if he means it? Remember, this is a man who has come from the dark side to do a job for us. Why would he not have something to prove? "I`ve crossed the great divide to take Mr Lerner`s money and bring you relegation and misfortune...." doesn`t sound true to me.A case in defence

Alex McLeish could well be the man to take Aston Villa forward. If we lost him now, or at the end of the season, it would put us right back at square one. Things were different when Randy first took over, he was happy to plough money into transfer fees and wages, but then he had his fingers burned by the one they call O`Neill. Last season we faced a similar threat of relegation: enter Darren Bent for £24m well spent.

Now we have McLeish, after nearly 2 years of instability and uncertainty. He knows he`s caught between a rock and a hard place with us right now, but considering the players we have and the season we`re having, things could be a lot worse.

press conference

We`re only a few good results away from the top half of the table. If McLeish had the money that was given to O`Neill we could be looking at a different Villa side, but sadly that won`t happen. Yet.

What would you do? If you have 2 experienced international defenders in Collins and Dunne who rocked the boat last season, would you ship them out, leaving 2 huge gaps at the back, or try to get them back on side doing the job that they are capable of doing, and have done before?

Would you build the team around N`Zogbia and Ireland because that`s how they`d like it or would you try and get them playing as part of a team rather than the centre of it?

Would you come out to the press and undermine your own ability by saying you`re doing a crap job, or would you try and stay positive and keep faith in the players that are letting you down because you need unity?

mcleish and grant

Would you address the fans personally, in press conferences and letters, or would you shirk the responsibility and send a rep out to speak for you? These are the kind of decisions McLeish has to make, and has made, and they are pivotal.

Barring one player, McLeish brought in 2 great signings for us: Shay Given and Charles N`Zogbia. One of the Premier league`s best keepers and a very talented winger. We also have a young left-back in Enda Stevens. These players can be big for us in the next few seasons, and with McLeish showing faith in the younger lads we could have a potentially ambitious, hungry, exciting attacking team over the next few years.

McLeish said on the official Villa website that he likes Gary Gardner because "he`d run through brick walls for Aston Villa". I`m not sure about you, but I`d take a player like that over an £80,000 a week prima donna international any day. I think most Villa fans would too.

McLeish is adamant that he does not tell the team not to attack. Why would he lie? He knows that the only way to win games is to score goals and keep them out.

Maybe he`s been guilty of telling the lads to defend a 1-0 lead. A dangerous game, but if other teams can do it then why can`t we? Especially with the experience we have at the back? If the team`s shaky it`s because we have weak links, as mentioned earlier with the lack of passion for playing for Villa. Hopefully these will be fixed in the close season.

McLeish clapping

Overall, you can`t judge a man on three-quarters of a season. Chelsea are looking for their 8th manager in 9 years because their chairman thinks the league can be bought. Our chairman might not have the millions of Abramovich or Sheikh Mansour but he has faith in the manager.

He had enough faith to give O`Neill money to ruin the club and leave us when it couldn`t be fixed straight away. He had faith in Gerard Houllier to pick a top striker when we needed one. He has faith in Alex McLeish to do a great job for Aston Villa. It`s pointless to make petitions calling for him to be sacked, or for QIA to take us over. It won`t happen.

Next season I envisage changes, like getting rid of Dunne,

Warnock and Collins from the wage bill. I see Makoun potentially coming back in to do a job. I see more lads from the reserves taking first-team places, players who haven`t been tainted by wages, cynicism and hype, players who will listen to the manager and carry out their jobs with efficiency and style.

If football is a religion then at Villa some fans are missing a vital component of religion, and that is faith. To constantly undermine the job and performance of everyone at the club in a clearly difficult time is to abandon faith in Aston Villa. It`s time to stop complaining.

scratching head

We have 10 games left. It`s a far stretch of the imagination, but that`s 33 potential points. Alex McLeish put together a team that knocked Aston Villa out of the Carling Cup, took them to the final and beat Arsenal at Wembley.

More than Martin O`Neill did for us. He is capable of doing great things, and he can do them for us if we give him a chance. He got relegated with Blues, but we are a bigger and better club with more money and stability. Harry Redknapp got relegated with Southampton, look at where he is now.

Give McLeish a chance to get it right. Wear your colours with pride and roar your heart out in the stands. One goal down, two goals down, keep on roaring. We laugh in the face of relegation. Show everyone that we are still Aston Villa. We still have a proud history and a bright future. We still have faith.


With thanks to M. Lawrence

Also posted on the Vital Villa facebook page, not 100% who wrote this bit, if you can let me know I'll credit:

The message boards have been going crazy.

Dreadful manager, relegated twice with Blues, finished third with Rangers...

Forget the fact that he got Blues to their highest League finish in over fifty years and a League Cup, a bigger achievement than Villa have managed in the last 16 years.

Forget the fact that he won the Scottish Premier League twice with Rangers - sure it was only against Martin O'Neill's Celtic and sure he signed a bunch of players on Bosman free transfers. Sure if he had money he would have misused it I'm sure.

Forget the fact he won seven out of ten matches at Scotland, including one away to France in Paris, sure Scotland have proven how good they were since.

Forget the fact he took Rangers to the last 16 of the Champions League, further than any other Scottish side.

Forget getting Hibernians in Europe, who are second last in the League now. It's not important... He got Blues relegated twice and finished third with Rangers. Although his predecessor Paul Le Guen lasted only a few months in the job, what with no money to spend that McLeish had to contend with, sure it was probably McLeish's fault they did so badly under Le Guen.

Alex McLeish thread (contains strong language): Click Here

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Writer:M Lawrence + a.n.other!
Date:Wednesday March 14 2012
Time: 10:41AM


Yes, forget the fact that generally we're the most negative side in the game. Forget the Spurs game, where we lost before we even got on the field, too. Forget that he came third in a two horse race while we're at it. The argument doesn't wash with me, I'm afraid, he's a dour boring manager who epitomises everything about the Villa these days.
14/03/2012 11:06:00
I will be the first to say a very good article and one with which I whole heartily agree with. One thing I would say was that Mr O'neill's teams did not play a particularly great style of football especially during the month of March :).
14/03/2012 11:15:00
Nope, still don't like or want him. Sorry.
14/03/2012 11:36:00
Regardless of what you say he's clueless
14/03/2012 11:45:00
You can give him a break if you like. After 50 years+ as a villa fan I'll make my own mind up thank you very much.
14/03/2012 11:50:00
Well said M. Lawrence We could win the league and still have the miserable old gits moaning about the Spurs game
14/03/2012 11:56:00
As much as I would love to agree with this article I'm not sure I do. Don't get me wrong this is very positive and a great way to be thinking the way things are, but I am for the first time in a long while looking below us in the table rather that up. I fear dropping point and slipping further down the table because we draw/lose games we should win and scrape our way to 3 points when we do get them. MON made some big mistakes transfer wise but I have to say it was a hugely enjoyable spell. Pushing the top four, exciting players and consistent high place finishing. This season has been very different. We play very dull football, there are decisions made that just baffle me (Weiman sub aside) that just don't work. Players don't seem happy, and the quality ones we do have are not performing as they have in previous seasons. We drop points most weeks, drawing in a rather unexciting fashion. Granted teams like Man c, Man u, Spurs we would struggle on our best days, but we don't show up, and we certainly don't give them a game like we would have done under MON (cue the MON haters biting my head off). This season I have been looking at the fixture list and teams below us just hoping they don't catch us. That is not something that one of the most success clubs in English football history should not be worried about. To be fair if this was a different club i would possibly be saying the same, to stick with it and maybe it will be better next season, but I have definitely not enjoyed this years football as much as previous ones and all I can see is down, which wouldnt be so bad if we player good football or at least looked like we were trying. Its not where your from, its where your taking us.
14/03/2012 12:13:00
wow some major typos, im sure you get the gist
14/03/2012 12:16:00
MON is history. Eck is much more deserving of this status. You can't compare the 2 as peers. Eck isn't fit to tie Dr. Venglos' laces. Eck out.
14/03/2012 12:25:00
Eck's Blues beat a poor Villa side under a poor manager and then went on to sneak it at Wembley at exactly the time that Arsenal's bad run started. He was manager of one of two teams who could win the Scottish league and his fans wanted him out, the same at Aberdeen and the same at Blues. I can remember when they were top of the fizzy pop league and Bluenoses were crying for his head, why.....his style of football was ultra-negative and downright boring. Good article mate, but there's a reason why every club he's ever managed was glad to see the back of him you know?! Either the fans of Villa (most), Blues, Aberdeen and Rangers are all wrong, or he's a poor manager. Personally, I'll edge my bets on the side of the statistics and what my two eyes are telling me. I can understand that chopping and changing managers all the time is a bad move, but sometimes you just have to hold your hands up and say ‘I made a mistake’, cut your losses and move on. The points you make about MON are well founded, he’s a GREAT man manager (look at Sunderland now) but his signings were, in the main dire. From people I know at B6 who worked (and still do) there, he was a bit of a dictator and ran more than the first team, this is why we have been a bit ‘rudder-less’ at post MON Villa. I think we need a new CEO who knows how to run a football team but more important than that, a new manager to start again, as we are not back to square one….we are a few places even behind that.
14/03/2012 12:43:00
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