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Howard's Way: The Letter to Lerner

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Howard's Way: The Letter to Lerner

Post by Trotters on Mon Apr 28, 2014 12:05 pm

Howard Hodgson wrote:R Lerner
Aston Villa Football Club
Villa Park
Birmingham
B6 6HE

Fax 0121 322 2107

Jan 6th 2014



Dear Mr Lerner,

Some of my observations/ideas that I believe need to be implemented if Aston Villa is ever to be a force again or at least appease its long suffering supporters!


A football philosophy has to be implemented throughout the football club- A clear identity which should be a passing game with lots of movement off the ball all over the pitch. Diagonal runs, overlapping full backs, triangles etc. I would love you to watch a game with me by your side. I could easily show you that none of this is happening at Villa, especially in home fixtures where it is paramount for success in breaking teams down that invariably sit deep. All the most successful clubs play this way and it comes down to coaching. This must be the consistent way of playing the game throughout the club. We do that and the fans will start believing again. They are not a greedy bunch but the home form in the last 4 years has been shockingly bad.

Home form has to be good to have a happy customer base long term. This has not been the case for far too long at Aston Villa. The core support attend home games and the life blood of your support are season ticket holders. Paul Lambert promised a totally different approach to home games when he was appointed which would result in exciting play and positive results. 29 Premier league games later at Villa Park, we have only achieved 7 wins and this season its getting far worse when you would expect a plan and style to be evolving. This season we have played 12 games at Villa Park in all competitions and won only 2, scoring only 8 goals, 5 of which came in 2 games leaving 3 goals in the other 10! This leaves us with the worst home record in all 4 divisions in the country. No wander the fans are fed up. Its ugly, very boring, humiliating and ineffective and nothing how the current manager said it was going to be. He knew we already had a poor home record when he came. He knew the main reason why he was a popular appointment with supporters was down to his reputation for playing bold, attacking play that took the game to the opponent. I have no idea why that hasn’t materialised here. It did briefly for a 12 game run between March-May which had many believing this year would continue in the same vein but since Chelsea away (2nd game) it just hasn’t happened. Instead week by week, particularly at home the football has been getting worse and worse culminating in the last 5 home performances (United, Sunderland, Palace, Swansea and Sheffield United) which have been simply appalling and driven the crowd to near breaking point.

I hear excuses like it’s the crowd’s fault or they are inexperienced. Hogwash. The crowd are brilliant at Villa Park and far more loyal and patient than many supporters. Can you imagine Spurs or Liverpool fans putting up with this for so long? All they want is to see a method, a pattern of play, some running off the ball, players running at defences, getting beyond the ball etc. They witness that and they will be roaring them on. Instead we have the sideways, backwards, hoof show which creates nothing and produces very poor results. It simply can’t continue.

You may well point to me that we are in 11th place. In relative comfort with 23 points from 20 games. That has come from a set game plan away from home (15pts from 10 games) that certainly has merit and a track record of working although teams around us are getting wise to it and are sitting deeper, even at home, to stop our main effective tactic of counter attacking hence why we drew 0-0 at Hull and West Ham and lost at Stoke and Fulham. The main reason for the improved performance at Sunderland was the fact we got a very fortunate early goal which made Sunderland come out and attack, giving us the space to counter attack in and behind them. When teams do that we know what to do and we are pretty good at it. But you have many games in the Premier League especially at home where this won’t happen and the onus is on you to break them down. This is where we really struggle as so evidently proved on Saturday against a side 51 places below us in the league pyramid. I talked to Ian Taylor about it at half time and we honestly could not believe what we were seeing?! We were playing right into their hands and were making no attempt to play around them but this has been the story whenever a team sits with two banks of four and comes back to my first paragraph in this piece of writing.

So Mr Lerner you have to make a decision. It is all very well looking for continuity and beating the drum of support if the ship is going in the right direction. However if its heading for the rocks its not a good idea to continue on the same course. The captain of the ship either has to be changed until the right one is eventually found or he is told in no uncertain terms by the owner of the ship a change in direction has to be effected immediately to avoid dire consequences for all concerned.

Having witnessed such poor performances at Villa park and there only being signs of them getting worse rather than better, my faith for this current manager is stretched to the limit . If he is to stay on I firmly believe an attacking first team coach should be brought in and John Collins would be the ideal candidate. I believe he and Paul Lambert played together at Celtic. I watched him on Footballers Football Show last night and his ideas and philosophies were outstanding and just what we need at the Football club. If not John then someone with his same outlook/ideas.

We certainly need a major improvement at Villa Park and fast. The supporters have pride and they are fed up with being sent home feeling hurt, embarrassed and frankly short changed. This has gone on for far too long now.



We do ultimately have to sign better players but its all a waste of time and money if the coaching is not of the necessary standard producing the right style of football which is eventually going to lead to the club challenging again. Please remember that, as it’s the most important and key message of all.

I have taken 90 minutes out of my working day to write this so hope you take the necessary time to read it, digest it, see it for its merits and best intentions and then reply to it.


Kindest regards,



Howard JP Hodgson
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Trotters



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