Are We Really Surprised?
JuanPabloAngel asks: Are we really surprised?
Villa have been an accident waiting to happen from the day Martin O'Neill left us high and dry.
Since then, from the tediously protracted appointment of Gérard Houllier, the unmitigated disaster that was Alex McLeish to the shamelessly populist poaching of Paul Lambert, struggle upon struggle has followed.
The defeat to Millwall, hot-on-the-heels of Tuesday's humiliating League Cup exit to lowly Bradford City, is the inevitable consequence of our disastrous managerial recruitment. And things could, and probably will, get a whole lot worse. Current opinion seems divided between blaming Randy Lerner for his failure to throw good money after bad in a vain attempt to arrest our current capitulation, and Paul Lambert for singularly failing to sign or use any players of 'experience' to help educate, assist or bail out the £23m of youngsters he bought in the summer on his arrival.
Lambert fiddles while Villa burn?
With such hideous League form (some 31 points from the past 38 games, across two seasons - relegation form whichever way you look at it), we are pretty much down. Can anyone seriously see us collecting 17-20 points from the remaining games? Failure to put away the numerous chances we create, together with a defence totally and utterly able to defend, can mean only one thing.
Personally, I point the finger at everyone connected with the club over the past five years.
From allowing O'Neill to fritter away countless millions on sub-standard players, to the botched and misguided appointment of his subsequent replacements, to the current 'bury your head' mentality of Paul 'we'll go again' Lambert, we are the Titanic steaming headlong into the iceberg of relegation. It's all very well demanding Randy Lerner opens the chequebook this January and throws even more money at the team, as he did with Darren Bent a couple of years ago. He's tried that, and it didn't really work out. And it's all very well demanding the return of 'experienced' heads to help steady the ship (Dunne, Hutton, Warnock, for example), but these are the very high-earning, under-achieving players (along with the mercifully-departed Collins) that we wanted rid of last summer.
We have to face the reality that several years of bad management at all levels is bringing our chickens home to roost. Trying to make a silk purse out of the sow's ear that is our first team is virtually impossible, and Lambert has been brought in to try and salvage our Premier League status, and if he can't, he will (assuming he doesn't jump ship first) be around to restore us to our rightful place over the next couple of years.
I have no truck with Randy Lerner in terms of spending - he has invested much more than we could ever have hoped for, and has not saddled the club with the potentially crippling debts in the manner, say, of the Glazers' purchase of Manchester United. His lack of interference and headline-grabbing as perpetrated by, for example, Roman Abramovich (or even Deadly, dare I say) is laudable. Owners and Boards of Directors should stay behind the scenes. But where he must be held accountable is in failing to address our horrifying lack of football knowledge and experience at board level, in no small way responsible for our current freefall.
There has clearly been no long-term plan, no 'joined-up thinking' in terms of manager or player recruitment. This is where we have been crying out for a Director of Football, much-maligned though the role has become in English football. Would we really be in this position had, say, Graham Taylor or Big Ron had some influence at board level, helping out and advising our novice 'custodians'? I'm pretty resigned to our fate, and can only hope that Randy and our hopelessly inexperienced CEO see the shortcomings brought on by our lack of continuity and long-term planning. A spell in the Championship will give plenty of time for reflection.
Up the Villa.