Villa. Another Fine Mess?
Obediah says 'Another fine mess?'
I have refrained from, metaphorically speaking, putting pen to paper since Mr Lerner and his Board managed to persuade Paul Lambert to walk away from Norwich City FC, a club at which he had been singularly successful, to join us last summer. I must admit that it was with high hopes that I and I know many other Villa supporters welcomed Paul Lambert to Villa Park. There is no doubt that we have one of the better young managers in football now at our club. His record, up until this season speaks for itself. Tactically and as a man manager he is the best manager that this illustrious club has had for many years. So what has gone wrong?
In an ideal world Aston Villa Football Club should have everything going for them, but once again we are struggling and, if the appalling run of results continues much longer, by the end of this season we will be looking at life in the Championship. How very sad if that is the case. The malaise goes back for many, many years long before Randy Lerner bought Aston Villa FC at a knock down price. But after twenty five years of HD Ellis using the club as his personal publicity vehicle, we long suffering fans who pay good, hard earned cash every week to watch our team have a right to have expected better from the new owner.
I have no doubt whatsoever that Martin O`Neill would not have joined Villa if Ellis had remained in charge. He thought, rightly, that he could talk some large amounts of cash out of Randy`s coffers to buy some players. Which he did and as a result we were initially reasonably successful There is no doubt that a few of the players he bought were excellent and have been sold on to other clubs at a good profit, but it very quickly became apparent that others were over paid dross who never even got into O`Neill`s team let alone that of subsequent managers. In addition, O`Neill sold several players at knock down prices. Players that are still performing well for other teams in the premiership and for England. We all now recognise the failings that O`Neill has as a manager, something that the Sunderland fans are now finding out for themselves. Then, O`Neill did the unforgivable he just walked away and left us in the lurch.
Gerard Houllier was a mistake from day one Lerner and his Board had to do something, but to appoint an elderly man with known heart trouble, who had been away from English football for three years was a monumental folly. Houllier tried to change too much too soon, spent money without real benefit to the club and his ill health returned. Another year of struggle for the club came and went, without any real sign of progress.
So what does the owner of our illustrious football club do next? Why, he ignores the fans and appoints one of the most negative managers extant in football today and once again we just avoid relegation, simply because there happened to be three worse teams in the league than us. That was a really big mistake. Let`s be honest, last year we were very lucky indeed not to be relegated.
Then last summer it seemed that for the first time since he bought the club Lerner decided to listen to the fans. We supporters may not have great wads of cash stuck in bags under the stairs but many of us do know and understand football and all aspects of management. We have been telling him for some time that things are not right at the club. Sadly, he never seems to listen to anyone except a small coterie of executives who, from their record, have very little understanding of what is required to run a successful football club. But last summer he did do something right. Somehow Paul Lambert was persuaded to join us at Villa Park. I wonder what promises were made to lure him here. No doubt there was the promise of significant cash being made available for the purchase of new players and, in my opinion, Lambert has spent well with regard to the players he has brought in since he joined us. But it is not enough. What he could not buy with the very limited funds that it seems had had made available to him was premier league experience.
Now we learn that there is no more money in the kitty and that we will have to struggle through the rest of the season with the players which we currently have on the books. The truth is that they are not bad players, some of them have considerable skills and ability, but what they lack is experience in what is without a doubt the toughest league in world football. We are lucky enough to have one of the best young managers in the business but, sadly, he is not being supported by the parsimonious owner.
Yes, I know Lerner has spent a lot of money by the standards of the ordinary working man but by the standards of the more successful clubs Lerner is a skinflint. I have no idea why Lerner decided to buy Aston Villa FC whether it was a peculiar form of ego trip or perhaps it was in the belief that he would make significant money in the short to medium term, in which case he was sadly mistaken. It does not work like that, as I thought he would have learned from his experience with the Browns. I suspect we may be the only club in the premier league not to buy any players during this transfer window. Certainly the clubs closest to us in the league are trying to strengthen their teams but, I read today, that Lambert has been told that there is no money available. Unlike O`Neill, if Lambert walked away I would not blame him, but somehow I don`t think he will. His coat is cut from a different cloth.
If we are relegated, which seems more and more likely then, in my humble opinion, there is only one person to blame and that is our stay away owner. He just does not seem to care what happens. I wonder if he realises that if we are relegated, once we have sold off the last of our player assets we will be struggling. Lerner now has the next few months to decide whether or not he wishes to continue to be the owner of a famous football club. If, Mr Lerner, you do decide to stay, then I ask only one thing of you and that is that you do not blame Paul Lambert for our present troubles. The blame is squarely at the door of you and your fellow directors. If we are to have any chance of returning to the premiership after one season then we need Lambert to stay as manager, no one else will do. He must be given the support and cash he needs to begin to build a team of which we long suffering supporters can be proud. If on the other hand Lerner does decide to do the same with Villa as he did with the Browns then he may walk away a few million pounds poorer, but no one here will grieve at his going. While we the long suffering, faithful supporters will have to bear the pain for years to come.
Mr Lerner, if you are serious about owning an English Premier League football club then please, please support our good young manager before it is too late. In reality it probably is this season anyway.