Vital Football

Latest Aston Villa News

A Thorough Ecksamination

A Thorough Ecksamination

I know there are 2 games left but I thought we`d get the appraisal done and dusted. Relegation or survival will not factor into this analysis; the season is 38+ games long and the last 2 will be a formality in terms of judging the manager`s success this season.

It`s always good to start with the positives, so let`s take a look.


First, for a squad that`s been heavily depleted, first by the departures of key players and then by injuries at crucial times, Aston Villa have been able to hold their own in terms of not losing (not winning, just not losing). We`ve drawn 16 games this season, nearly half of the league fixtures, and if those 16 games had been won then the table would look very different indeed.

Next, Alex McLeish has signed important players for Aston Villa this year. Shay Given is a good-quality Premier league goalkeeper, Charles N`Zogbia is a player with bags of potential, Enda Stevens is rumoured to be a promising young left-back, and Alan Hutton has had enough Premier League experience to replace Luke Young. Robbie Keane also came in on loan to provide some much-needed goals.

To supplement these signings, and due to injuries, the emergence of young players like Chris Herd, Gary Gardner and Andreas Weimann has shown that Villa`s academy is working, and that the younger players will most likely be able to cut it in the Premier League.

At times this season, Aston Villa have shown their ability to attack and score goals. Our front men have demonstrated their proficiency to bury chances and we have scored some important goals from defence and midfield, which means that we can attack when we try.

Finally, McLeish has shown gritty determination and steel to stand in the face of a group of supporters who don`t support him and say "I`m here, this is my job, give me a chance and I`ll prove you all wrong." Whether you like him or not, that takes some stones.


We looked at the 16 draws we`ve had all season. 7 of those were no-score draws. We had taken the lead in 7 of the score-draws we had, so as mentioned above, if we`d held onto the leads we took we`d be 21 points better off.

There`s no doubt that the players McLeish has signed can do the job, but in terms of individual performances this season the team has been found wanting. Players such as Dunne, Collins, Warnock and Hutton have struggled with consistency and quality in their performances, while Ireland and N`Zogbia have unsettled the dressing room on occasion. In addition, Albrighton has been like a lost sheep for most of the season and Agbonlahor has slowly drifted away from the front-line and out to the left wing.

Scoring goals. In 12 games this season we have scored 1 goal. In 10 league games we have scored 2 or more and have won 7 of them, showing that for Villa to stand a chance of winning a game we need to score more than once. Stating the obvious, yes, I know. Interestingly, the bottom 3 teams at present have all scored more goals than we have.

Going hand-in-hand with the problem with scoring goals is the lack of attacking. Aston Villa have lacked bite and intelligence in their attacking play this year, and defensively we have only been better than Norwich (13th). Bent has been isolated and dropping deep to collect the ball (not how he works) and Agbonlahor has tended to drift to the wing. The build-up play has been sloppy and unattractive, while players like Albrighton, Ireland and N`Zogbia have lacked the confidence to take a man on or run at defences.

Despite his mettle, McLeish has refused to publicly acknowledge any responsibility for the team`s plight. The main offenders always seem to be injuries and a lack of experience in the squad, although these never became issues until around Christmas. Recently a lack of presence from the dugout has been blamed on seating situations.

Finally, situations off the pitch have hindered what happens on the pitch. Disgruntled and unsettled fans have made their feelings known about the manager on various websites, forums and groups, and this has intensified the atmosphere inside the ground, but in a negative way. This has then affected the players and also the manager, causing many current and ex-players and managers to come out and defend Alex McLeish in the media.


Pending that the table above the bottom 3 doesn`t change much, a finish of 15th/16th wouldn`t be the greatest, but it wouldn`t be the worst either. With the exits of many key players in the summer, it could be argued that most Villa fans never expected success this season. However, this league position would be considered more favourably if the team possessed the attacking identity that has always been associated with Aston Villa; we have only lost 2 games this season by a 1-0 scoreline and that was to the Manchester clubs, which proves that unless you have quality and strength in depth, you must attack in order to get results. The strong negative reaction from the fanbase has not inspired but intimidated and inhibited the team; however, the manager has been unable to respond to this criticism with adaptation or positivity, and the team has been stuck in a winless rut because of it. If McLeish`s team had shown any signs of consistency or character to grind out games, score goals and get points then he would have earned the right to stay on for another season. Sadly, with 7 wins, 16 draws and 13 losses, the only thing we have been able to do consistently is hold out for a point while we are bombarded with attacks, as well as conceding leads to lose and draw games. Despite his injury Darren Bent`s goals again appear to be vital in securing our Premier League status, although question marks will inevitably now hang over his future at Aston Villa. The media will no doubt help matters by linking him with every London club until a bid comes in. Hopefully this won`t be the case.


The best way for Aston Villa to rebuild will be with a new manager. It was a brave, bold move by the board to appoint Alex McLeish after he took our rivals down for 2 out of 3 seasons, but in spite of the fans` reaction and correlating performances, results and league position, it appears highly unlikely to work out over the long-term. McLeish may well have a future as a Premier League manager but the gulf in class between the SPL and the Premier League, as well as between Birmingham City and Aston Villa, has been a gap too wide for him to bridge. Ideally McLeish would have tendered his resignation after the Bolton game as to prevent further humiliation and vilification, but he will see out the last 2 games most likely as a martyr. The board would do wisely to consider the sentiments of the fans regarding the next appointment, ensuring that the next manager is a man who is able to fully utilise our team`s attacking potential and playing to that strength, as well as tightening up an ageing, leaking defence. It has been an insult to long-term paying supporters of the club (aka valued customers) that they have had to endure such a poor campaign after so much was promised. As a result of this, the relationship between the board and the fans is now incredibly strained. Until this relationship is mended, the club will not move forward. The board wants a successful product to bring in revenue; the fans want a successful team to bring in trophies. Most fans now accept that the future of Aston Villa will take more than one season to resolve, and will give the right manager time and support in order to build on a team which has great foundations for the future. The board must now respond with positive action by appointing the right manager, whoever he may be, providing sufficient funds to add strength in depth, and responding to the needs of the fans. If this happens at the end of the season, the future may still be bright.

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

Writer:Turkish Penguin
Date:Monday April 30 2012
Time: 8:46AM


Provided we are actually still in the Premiership next season of course!.. Granted after the weekends results we SHOULD be ok but i for one do not fancy a last day lottery i really don't, as anything can & usually does happen...Just ask our manager about last season for example!!.. Praying for a Stoke win at QPR this week!
30/04/2012 09:10:00
Well balanced, but I would add a couple of more points. We have conceded 21 goals from set pieces and scored none. That is training ground basics. Only Manure have lost less away games than us despite the obvious problems. You say if we had held on to the lead in 7 of the games that have drawn we would be 21 points better off. Hows that? Surely you mean 14 points better off?? And the main news is that we have ony got 2 games left with McMuppet (unless he does the right thing and resigns before the end of the season).
30/04/2012 09:14:00
I'm just counting the days until this weight is lifted UTV
30/04/2012 09:47:00
Nicely put, for me one of the main things with 'him' is the blame game, he has never once taken any of the responsibility.
The Fear
30/04/2012 09:48:00
I believe the eckscuse over the christmas period was the wrong type of snow!
30/04/2012 10:02:00
The Fear said: "Nicely put, for me one of the main things with 'him' is the blame game, he has never once taken any of the responsibility." and that's true. But to many fans he has been to blame for everything. Even this damned rain!
30/04/2012 11:47:00
Good read. The part the press/media do not get is that if Mcleish had produced a team capable of showing some guts & character he could and would have won us over. I was never anti Mcleish just anti his football tactics and the miserable dross that was served up with attacking being a dirty word. The only comment I will never forget from this season is Kevin Keegan on the Man Utd home game." That is the worst home display I have seen in the premier league this season no resistance was offered it was easy for them".
30/04/2012 12:07:00
i hate the sugar coating in this article its that type of sugar coating that landed us this clueless lying self serving inept fool as manager in the first place.
Shane Villains
01/05/2012 10:05:00
Sugar-coating is to ignore the negatives Shane, and this article does neither. It won't mean anything in a few weeks when we unveil Chris Hughton anyway!
01/05/2012 21:00:00
Page 1/1
  1. 1

Login to post a comment

Recent Aston Villa Articles

A Perfect Pitch - Aston Villa Winners

See, Villa do win things!

The Vital Villa Man Of The Match - Villa v Blues

The poll results, man of the match, Villa v Blues.

EFL Grounds Team Winners 2016/17

The Football League have this afternoon announced the divisional winners and runners up in this...

Jedinak Wants Improvement

Midfielder Mile Jedinak knows Aston Villa have to improve in the season of 2017/18 if we are to win promotion back to the Premier League.

Archived Vital Villa Articles

Vital Villa articles from

Site Journalists

J P Fear
Editor email
Mike Field
Editor email
Steve Wade
no email
no email
Turkish Penguin
no email
no email
Chris Heath
no email
M Calucar
no email
JuanPablo Angel
no email

Current Poll (see more polls)

Aston Villa v Blackburn (away) will:
Suggested By: Mystic Mug
ScoopDragon Publishing Entire League Network of Sites

League Table

# Team P W D L Pts. GD
P Brighton 44 28 8 8 92 35
P Newcastle 44 27 7 10 88 40
3 Huddersfield 44 25 6 13 81 3
4 Reading 44 24 7 13 79 1
5 Sheff Wed 44 23 9 12 78 15
6 Fulham 44 21 13 10 76 27
7 Leeds Utd 44 22 7 15 73 14
8 Norwich 44 19 9 16 66 12
9 Brentford 44 18 9 17 63 12
10 Derby County 44 17 12 15 63 2
11 Preston 44 16 13 15 61 2
12 Aston Villa 44 16 13 15 61 0
13 Cardiff 44 16 11 17 59 -2
14 Barnsley 44 15 12 17 57 0
15 Wolves 44 15 10 19 55 -3
16 Ipswich 44 13 16 15 55 -6
17 Bristol City 44 14 9 21 51 -6
18 Burton 44 13 12 19 51 -12
19 Q.P.R. 44 14 8 22 50 -12
20 Forest 44 13 9 22 48 -11
21 Birmingham 44 11 14 19 47 -22
22 Blackburn 44 10 15 19 45 -15
23 Wigan 44 10 11 23 41 -16
R Rotherham 44 5 6 33 21 -58
Vital Football Comment
Latest F1 News
Wehrlein reveals severity of neck injury
Latest Vital Boxing News
David Fields Will Referee Joshua v Klitschko
Write for Vital Football

Recent Aston Villa Results (view all)

Aston Villa Fixtures (view all)

Apr 29 2017 3:00PM : Blackburn Rovers (a)
Sky Bet Championship
May 7 2017 12:00PM : Brighton & Hove Albion (H)
Sky Bet Championship

Vital Members League Table

2.Pride of Lions349
4.The Fear248
6.Melon Donkey175
The Vital Football Members League