Writer: Jon Law
Date:Sunday May 6 2012
I love the last game of the season, home game I mean. We, me and my Villa Buddies, always make it a bit of an event but this year it`s a bit flat. In strictly football terms we`ll be one down in number next season so the final home game in 2013 will be different event to this one.
Last season was the best yet, breakfast, barbers and beer before the game and drinks and curry after. We had a great time and with Villa`s revival toward the end of the season we were fairly optimistic for the upcoming season.
Ancellotti was our favourite choice to take over from Houllier, although I liked the idea of Poyet in charge with Houllier as DoF (still do). We knew Young was off but expected Downing to stay and with the Zog on the horizon we had a decent replacement. Things weren`t too shoddy.
This time it is much different. Despite a disastrous season on the pitch we don`t need to worry about relegation. I`m convinced we can lose 5-0 to Spuds and 3-0 to Norwich but still stay up, the irony being that McLeish`s emphasis on defence first means our GD is way ahead of the other teams around us. We are safe; QPR will get nothing out of Man City!
The fact that I come up with a scenario such as that speaks volumes and is sadly indicative of the atmosphere surrounding this season. Discussing the season, I even said to a Man City fan yesterday that we will lose our way to survival, even McLeish can manage that! The truly awful season is summed up by unwanted records 'achieved` by McLeish particularly the damning worst ever home wins record in 140 years of history, sufficient in itself to guarantee a change of manager, surely. There`s plenty more stats to go with that but one not usually cited is the lack of back to back victories.
There`s very little fun down the Villa these days. We are almost completely bereft of hope. A couple of weeks ago after the Sunderland draw when my mate announced he wasn`t renewing I was convinced McLeish was here for next season having accomplished his mission of chopping the wage bill down and survival - I`ve been sure we`d stay up after our last win. But the statement from the board after the Bolton debacle changed that.
I now am certain we`ll be getting a new manager next season. They gave him a vote of confidence for the rest of the season with no mention of backing for the next. What was not said spoke volumes. So I have hope, hope of something better. A manager that can get a team to win is required, Martinez would be nice, a Lambert perhaps or even Poyet or Di Matteo. There are a few options I`d like to see in charge, even a second dip into our rivals management staff would suit.
An outcome with one of those appointed the top job would be pretty satisfying. We could chalk up the disastrous McLeish season to experience and get everyone back to supporting the mighty Lions. Of course, the board really do have to avoid appointing a Bruce, McCarthy, McLaren or Curbishley, which would range from less inspiring to downright unadvised. But at the moment I am pretty sure Lerner won`t balls it up again, he`ll learn from his mistakes.
However, along with a new manager there has to be some more restructuring in terms of the playing staff. We`re on a budget and the new manager will realise that BUT if we are not to be the next Blackburn we need to spend some money to not just replace outgoing players but also to bring in a bit of experience to bolster the kids. If this happens we should see a season on season improvement, which will help to build on lost ground.
If not we will struggle, whoever is brought in and we will have to hope that the promoted teams do not repeat what Swansea and Norwich have managed this season because we will be relying on other teams to be worse than us again. That can only go on for so long. Blackburn will be relegated next week, next season it could be us unless things are put in order. Us Villa buddies will be discussing this sort of thing today BUT we can do nothing about it only Randy Lerner can and he simply has to learn from his mistakes.
Date:Sunday May 6 2012
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