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Howard's Way: Aston Villa- Where do we go from here?

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Howard's Way: Aston Villa- Where do we go from here?

Post by Trotters on Sat Apr 26, 2014 2:44 pm

Howard Hodgson wrote:

Another chaotic week passes at Aston Villa. Coaches being suspended, takeover talk rife, yet another inept performance which was only not a defeat thanks to poor finishing and a referee mistake (Bertrand handball was a penalty all day long) and not one but two statements from our normally quiet owner Randy Lerner which by not denying a sale was imminent or committing himself to the club only fuelled the talk of a sale going through once the season has ended even more.

So where do we go from here? Obviously first and foremost as Mr Lerner has quite rightly pointed out the priority must be to get the club finally safe from relegation. We have already had five opportunities to do that since the Chelsea game and so far we have seriously fluffed our lines and with every passing week the win doesn’t come, the harder it becomes, as what belief and confidence is left is eroded away.

Luckily for Villa a couple of scrappy draws we probably do it so these next two games against Swansea and Hull must result in not losing as despite our impressive record V top sides in the division this season I am not confident at all of getting anything from Man City or Spurs. If we were to lose on Saturday and Fulham, WBA and Sunderland won, the tension for the Hull game will be unbearable for a side who already have proven to be brittle and Bruce will have them organised and a game plan ready , so just like Palace, West Ham and Stoke we will find it hard unless Sid Cowans has managed to get a new message across in the brief time he will have had the job.

Anyway lets be positive and assume we will crawl to safety (As predicted to Mr Lerner/Faulkner/Lambert in Jan whilst they insisted good progress was being made….) What happens then? A few weeks ago I outlined 5 options for the club to take and I am going to re-send this as its now looking clear Lerner at the very least is very keen to sell and most probably does have a buyer lined up. It looks very likely the new owner(S) will come from America and we can only hope lessons are learnt from the Lerner stewardship.

Over the eight years the net investment by Randy Lerner has not been the problem. What has been the problem is never appointing a suitable board to run a big football club like Aston Villa which has resulted in a boom/bust period. The first 5 years being boom unsustainable investment and the last 3 years desperate cut backs to try and address the balance.

The first four years the investment levels were right but sadly far too much was wasted on the wrong players, by a manager with too much autonomy due to an inadequate board. CEO’s like Fitzgerald came and went because they could see O Neill in particular was impossible to work with.

After O Neill’s sudden departure five days before the season was due to start Houllier arrived and also was given big money. If he had not got ill he wanted to spend big in the summer of 2011 and it is well known Yohan Cabaye was at Bodymoor Heath ready to sign.. Who knows where we would have gone if Houllier had not left but with Houllier went Lerner’s ambition for Villa to be winners.

If they had secured Martinez then, perhaps again things could have been different but the bizarre switch from wanting Martinez to appointing Mcleish smacked of a club/board with no real firm idea what it wanted or indeed what to do? I understand Sir Alex Ferguson was the man they turned to for advice and he recommended Big Eck.. I see his next managerial recommendation has also bitten the dust today!

If Lerner had appointed Graham Taylor or Ron Atkinson to the board of Directors at the start or even post MON then again this would have been a situation easier to handle. They both understand Aston Villa and still have their fingers on the pulse with the modern game. At no point has Lerner appointed a director with football knowledge and that is the crux of his problems. Managerial appointments would have been easier/better and superior more suitable players could have been targeted whilst laying down a proper football ethos.

I do sympathise that he hasn’t banked a decent cheque on a player sale for almost three years (Downing) but again that comes back to poor managers buying the wrong players and putting them on inflated contracts all signed off by the board.

One thing that Lerner can be praised for is leaving the club potentially debt free although that will be reflected in his asking price.

Anyway what’s done is done. If there are to be new owners they can learn a lot from Randy’s years. I understand he is keen to leave a legacy behind. Right now the best legacy he could leave would be to sell us to the best possible new owner available who really wants to re-establish Aston Villa as a force again but this time for the long term with sustained, controlled investment and a board of directors more balanced and in particular more knowledgeable in the core product IE Football.

We certainly deserve to have some hope and prosperity on the horizon again after a period of mediocrity and failure which has gone on more than long enough.

Below is the 5 option report from six weeks ago. Option 5 looks the likelihood now… If not the next best solution would definitely be option 3.

Up The Villa


Howard Hodgson

Follow me @HodgsonHoward
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Trotters



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