Options for Aston Villa’s future


In a follow up to my recent report on the state of Aston Villa, I have now had a look into our future options and come up with five scenarios that could shape our club’s future:

1. Mr Lerner regains his appetite for Aston Villa to compete.

Now that the hard work of repairing much of the damage done by previous poor, expensive signings is complete we should now be in a position to sign at least four quality players this summer. I would like to see us continue to sign young players but players of a higher quality with maybe two additional experienced players coming in on Bosmans to supplement the know how and mental strength required to compete in this extremely competitive division.

This would be carried out by the current manager Paul Lambert, despite two years of struggle and poor points tallies and the current CEO, Paul Faulkner, despite four years of struggle with him at the helm. Obviously, if Christian Benteke has a big World Cup he will be in high demand and could well be sold. If this happens, all the additional money received should be reinvested in the team and used primarily on his replacement but also to aid the manager in targeting an even higher quality of player.

2. The same strategy as above but with a different manager.

3. The same strategy as above but with a different manager and CEO plus an ex-Aston Villa personality with the correct skills to also be appointed to the board as a non-executive director.

4. The current owner/board/manager stick to the strategy of buying relatively cheap, unproven players and hope they prove to be good enough.

5. The current owner remembers he made the following statement when he bought the club: “I am what you call the custodian. There has been plenty of custodians of Aston Villa since 1874 and if I can’t make it work, I will do what the others did, move on and let someone else try.”

So there are the five options, as I see it, that Aston Villa have to move forward with. If Mr Lerner genuinely still harbours ambition to make the club a success then this summer is the time to prove that, which, in my opinion, makes option four a totally unacceptable one..

If we are to take this option despite meandering for far too long in the lower reaches of the league and not achieving fifty points for the fourth consecutive season then it is clear that we have given up and have no intention of trying to compete at the top again. We can’t allow that to happen.

However, if any of options one, two or three are taken then things would at least point to a progressive strategy and indicate that the bitter pill of rebuilding the club’s finances has been swallowed and we are now looking to push on.

My personal preference, if Mr Lerner is staying, is option three as the club can’t solve all its problems simply by buying better players and spending more money. We need people on the board who understand football intensely and also have a burning desire to make Aston Villa strong and fiercely competitive again. We also need a manager who is going to be willing to work with a football director and who is willing to develop a progressive way of playing that is not just based around counter-attacking football.  We should be aiming for a top manager and if the project is deemed to be exciting again then there would be many willing to come in and manage a famous club like Aston Villa. It is all about what is on offer though – and that is ultimately down to Mr Lerner. Good managers have turned us down before because we were clearly in a position which meant that top players could not be targeted. Now that the wage bill issues have largely been resolved there is no reason for us not to be able to entice a top manager who is going to ensure his team plays the sort of football we all want to see on a regular basis.

Personally, I still think options four or five are the most likely scenarios. I have already made my feelings known regarding option four, which I don’t see as viable, so that leaves option five. My gut feeling still tells me that a sale could well be imminent. The recent accounts and Lerner’s involvement in luxury hotels in The Hamptons plus his seeming refusal to attend matches at Villa Park fuels these feelings.

I am confident that if Mr Lerner is selling he will ensure the club is sold to an individual or company that is extremely cash rich, has integrity and the necessary acumen to start putting Aston Villa back where it belongs. You may ask why I believe this, having been so critical of him recently. In spite of the errors he has made, I have never questioned Mr Lerner’s integrity and believe he would never saddle us with an owner, or “custodian” as he calls it, who wouldn’t be suitable like some recent owners of football clubs.

Whichever one of the five options happens, providing it is not option four or option one for me, then we can have happier times ahead. Aston Villa Football Club faces a huge crossroads this summer and I will be waiting to see what happens before committing my cash again. I have supported the club and attended games for thirty-six years but experience has taught me that blind support can ultimately be worse than no support if it gives the impression that what is happening is acceptable.

2014-15 must be the season when Aston Villa Football Club awakes from its slumber and starts to challenge for trophies and a strong league position again, waving goodbye to mediocrity.

Villa Park is a magical place and I still get goose umps when I drive down the Aston Expressway and see it in all its glory, even after all these years. It’s an iconic stadium full of memories. Now is the time for the famous venue to start hosting impressive football once more, creating fresh memories for the future generations of Aston Villa supporters as well as the current (suffering) generation.

Let’s lose the apathy, the excuse management and the inferiority complex. Let’s start behaving like a big club again. It’s time to get the passion and ambition back: there is no way a club like Everton should be seventeen points ahead of the famous Aston Villa and set to finish the season more than twenty points ahead of the Villans.

Up The Villa!


  1. What is a good manager ?
    It would seem , judging by the number that regularly get the sack that they are very few in number ! Or could it be that Owners & fans are too impatient to allow managers to manage ?
    So Lambert has in the eyes of the fans made too many mistakes in team selections & tactics but is it true ? Certainly from the way results have gone against Villa that would seem so . But why is that ? And why does he make unfathomable changes that don’t seem to work ? Of course if those changes work he’d be called a genius !But the biggest problem any manager in the Prem has,is being able to use his full squad so as to keep the players happy , yet he also has to get results & keep the fans happy by
    fielding their favourite players . Not an easy task , but then that is what he’s paid to do isn’t it ?
    There are many conspiracy theories about the way Villa is being run , but could the simple truth be that Lambert has been tasked to do 2 things
    1) keep Villa in the Prem
    2) build a squad for the future on a limited budget
    Certainly despite predictions of relegation last season Villa stayed up & this season it looks probable that the club will be safe and the squad has had a massive change of personnel . But is that down to luck or good management ? They say you need to break eggs to bake a cake , but is Villa’s cake baked & ready for the icing ? Maybe the summer window will show that the icing will not take the vast amount of spending some think is required .
    As for Lerner does he need to regain his appetite or has it never gone away ? Certainly the accounts seem to suggest that he has not lost his appetite , even if on field spending suggests otherwise . But perhaps fans should stop looking for a sugar daddy to support the club , but look @ how extra finance can be attracted to the club , such as that which will be heading into the clubs coffers from http://avfc.hk/ in the foreseable future

  2. Colin we have had 4 seasons under 50 points in a row. That is nowhere near good enough for a club of this size. We can argue all the other points all day long but ultimately 4 years of mediocrity which is at best what the last 4 seasons have been, is more than enough!

    I have not asked for a Sugar Daddy. I have asked for 4 players of a higher quality to be signed plus 2 astute experienced players on Bosman’s. Most importantly I want us to lose the apathy, lose the excuse management and inferiority complex and start acting and thinking like a big club again.

    Everton are not blessed with unlimited riches but they are well run and do produce a team that has regularly had a points tally significantly higher than ours in the last four years.

    Villa fans deserve more home wins than 9 from 33 which is what Lambert has achieved added to only 4 from 19 the previous manager achieved. These really are inexcusable stats.

  3. Ah yes the Villa is a big club complex but how true is it ? Sure Villa have many honours to their name but between those successes there have also been many years in the wilderness .
    As for a management inferiority complex what is one of those if not the shoe string budget that the club has been run on for time imemorial , and if it’s not a sugar daddy what is it that the club needs ? Contary to popular myth money does not grow on trees & you as an entrepreneur must surely realise that money has to come from some where ? It’s easy to selectively quote what Lerner said when he took control of the club against the wishes of those such as you & your father . But was not one of his aims to make the club more self sustainable ? But the world of finance has been in recession for much of his reign , so attracting investment to a club that is potentially a sleeping giant must surely have been difficult ?

    As for those 4 seasons with under 50 points scored so what ? That was to a certain degree predictable when MON walked out with the almost certain knowledge that without more players the squad/team would struggle . And what has it taken? 5 managers with most in the 1st 2 of those seasons to get to where we are now ? Of course it has been a struggle but building a new squad from the ground upwards on a limited budget whilest avoiding relegation does take time .
    As for Everton just how many seasons has it taken them to biuld to where they are now 10 years ? or is it 20 years and Villa fans want instant results ? your avin a larf !

  4. You have this excuse management down to a fine art Colin.. I am sure with that repertoire of excuses you could get a fairly senior position down at Villa Park! Self sustainable? Have you seen our financial results in the last 4 years? £52M loss being the latest! So we have struggled and continue to struggle yet still post monumental losses.. Lerner is £200M down and has taken us full circle.. In fact we haven’t even got the amount of points Ellis finished with in his last season (42 pts) in our last two seasons and there is a very good chance we won’t again. So no trophies, no top 4, 4 years of struggle on the bounce but £200M worse off.. Not very good is it?! He allowed O Neill to blow money on one player after another at the top of their value and that didn’t stop post O Neill. Look at what Bent has cost alone.. £40M in fee and wages. Given was handed a 5 year lucrative deal despite being 35 and then abandoned after 1 year. Hutton a 4 year deal, then abandoned after 1 year.. Both are still being paid by the club. Stephen Ireland another unmitigating financial disaster and N Zogbia won’t be much better.
    You are right I am an entrepreneur and I have never seen such a succession of poor business decisions be made continually over such a long period. No wander the club’s finances are in such a mess.
    I don’t want a Sugar Daddy but I do want the club to be properly financed and have people running it who vaguely know what they are doing! If Lerner does not have that finance to hand and does not want to appoint a proper board of directors to run the football club as it should be, then I can only hope we are soon in the hands of someone who does believe the club deserves to compete again and has a plan that really is long standing this time. We will never amount to anything the way we are going and for you to suggest I am wanting instant results you are sadly misguided. Its been 4 years and there is little to no progress both in terms of football results or financial results for that matter.

  5. Butcould it be that much of the critism all comes down to a desire for change by those thwarted in their desire to control the club , or have I got that wrong ?
    But what if the club was taken over ? Would it be better run ?
    But what of this claim that the club needs to be better financed ? Is that possible without a sugar daddy ?
    And what of these claims about the club not wanting to compete ? Is that the truth or could it be that the need to re finance the club has only put a temporary halt to advancement on the pitch ?
    It’s easy to waft figures in the air & claim mis management . But surely one has to spend to speculate which was what the MON era was theoretically all about . Unfortuneately failure on the pitch did not bring the finances, as you get nowt for finishing 6th & bombing out of Europe in the early stages , which is why the MON era had to end, even if some were happy for the club to be so high in the league
    And yes the bad spending did not end post MON but what would replacing the board & owner bring without Lerners money ?
    As for all the players mentioned what of them ? As they are or almost are part of the past , and for success we need to look & the present & the future .
    But talking of proper finance what do you mean if you can seem to disregard investments such as that which will come from sources such as AVFC.HK
    As for never amounting to anything the words “you’ll never win anything with youngsters spring to mind ” But then the era that provoked those words seems to be coming to an end !

  6. You have you finger on the pulse Howard & reading Colin’s replies I had a feeling he might NOT be a Villa fan but in his last paragraph the word ‘we’ was uttered so maybe Colin is a villa fan. So I’m not sure if Colin is stirring the hornets nest so to speak.
    Or just giving his point of view maybe ? But we all have the right to reply and air our views,
    The club is a massive club Colin there is no question of that and even if it is historical there’s 86 clubs in the country who wish they could boast such a fine tradition in terms of what the Villa have achieved since 1874.
    However I also am in agreement that the club is so badly run, in fact it’s farcical on reading the accounts that a club of this magnitude is being driven/steered by aboard veto are so inadequate and inept in the execution of their duties with Messrs Lerner & Faulkner at the helm, and leading us into a dark abyss spiralling out of control both financially and in terms of the football being served up at VP. Remember it is these who employed McLeish (why) & then Houllier & Lambert and obviously had a plan so they say but that’s gone to pot and we now appear completely clueless.
    I feel Randolph has virtually washed his hands of the club and is seeking a new ‘custodian’ the sooner the better in my opinion.
    A non executive director maybe an ex player who has knowledge and the ability to interact between the board & manager is also needed, how Lerner has allowed Faulkner to hand out these ridiculous contracts to the likes of Bent, Given, Ireland & NZogbia beggars belief. The blind leading the blind.
    In regards to Everton and their stature, we have always been virtually on an even keel with them we had a spell of glory 70/80’s as did they a few years after then a few struggles with us going down & Everton avoiding relegation by somehow managing to beat Wimbledon with some very suspect goalkeeping gifting them a ‘goal’
    But in the premiership years we are very even from the original inception of the PL in terms of points amassed etc etc
    But if things carry on like they are at this moment in time then relegation is a certainty in the next 12 months unless dramatic changes and a new owner comes in or Lerner injects into his ‘plan’
    Relegation / survival is not good enough for Aston Villa
    The premiership needs a powerful Aston Villa challenging the top 6 again
    Now is the time for change
    When it’s too late believe me we won’t be back for many years see the likes of Leeds,Sheffield Weds Wolves …when you hit the downward spiral it soon goes out if control

  7. Colin my desire for change and improvement is motivated purely and simply to see Aston Villa deliver its potential and a better value for money end product for its long suffering fans (Me included).
    I find it incredible that you talk of the O Neill era like it was someone else at the helm. Both Lerner (Chairman and owner) and Faulkner (FOO) were there and signed the cheques. They stood back for 4 years and let the guy buy player after player at the top of their value, place them on contracts the rest of football sniggered at and then suddenly decided after 4 years it was unsustainable.
    In business the buck stops at the top. If I appoint directors/managers who fail its ultimately my responsibility as its my business. Same applies here with Lerner and Villa.
    The players I mentioned post O Neill were worthy of mention as the errors continued and WE continue to suffer because of them as 4 very expensive ones are still here and now have no chance of returning a transfer fee due to the ill advised bomb squad theory.
    You claim Lerner’s actions were defensible during the MON era and post MON era which clearly indicates to me your views are not rational. To merely describe the MON era as a period of speculation and not recognise the deep flaws in continually buying players who could only possibly deliver for the today and would have no future resale value plus leave us saddled with them for years as no one else wanted to touch such inflated contracts, is ridiculously one sided and not rational.
    The Lambert plan has merit as at least its not going to saddle us with these types of problems. However as this article stated it now needs to be boosted with a better quality of young player. Sissoko’s and Coutinho’s rather than Sylla’s and Tonev’s. What is wrong with that?
    My main problem with Lambert is the style of play as like O Neill he is obsessed with the counter attack which away from home at most grounds is a fair plan.. However at home, the play needs to be stretched far more with width and a desire to get men forward and beyond the ball. Too often we are static and ball watch which invariably leads to sideways, backwards hoof.
    You may think this is purely down to standard of player at his disposal. If this is his reason I think he has misjudged how good we are when we are in offensive mode. We are actually at our worst in my opinion when we attempt to sit deep behind the ball with little to no movement off the ball. At home most teams won’t allow us to simply hit them on the break hence our shocking home form. If he can resolve that I am happy to support him but he has to demonstrate soon he has the ability to do it.
    I also would question that when you have a set budget, bringing in 3 left backs and 4 big centre forwards is ill advised. As Given is here on a long term deal, any need to sign Steer? Could he have blooded at least 1 or 2 next gen squad winners into the first team squad this year?
    I only want what is best for Aston Villa. I believe the club has huge potential and a lot of that in recent years has gone by the wayside due to poor decision making.
    I believed this article to be largely positive, showing that potentially we are 4 players away with perhaps 2 good bosman’s in addition from being a good side.
    I am not convinced Lambert or Faulkner can deliver ultimately what we want but if option 1 was to happen I’d get behind it so don’t go reading into ulterior motives that are not there. You may not agree with my point of view and I may not agree with yours but we are both entitled to them.

  8. Maybe all your readers don’t have such long memories as I But I can think back to the time that Lerner bought the club & way beyond , And I find it curious how it is that many of the critics of Lerner’s reign were around @ the time he bought the club & that some even were involved in various schemes to buy the club . But if they had the club’s welfare so much @ heart why did Doug prefer to sell to Randy ?
    I read a lot of rhetoric about how badly the club is run , but little is said about how the club might be run if others had control . Other than , that is vague suggestions that ex players need to be involved . But how many explayers does the club need ? Sid is the U21 team coach , & Delaney is with the accademy , Tayls a club rep & several others have various jobs @ the club
    But never mind all that what of all this talk of Villa being a big club something many fans of many clubs consider that their club is . But apart from all those trophies from timespast & that it is one of the founders of the football league what makes Villa a big club ?
    Sure it’s by far the biggest club in the Midlands but what else makes it big ? The whinging fans that supporters of other clubs consider a big joke ?

    But what of the future for Villa do fans really want to become known for being like the shite from Merseyside , constantly demanding what they claim are “their right” ?
    I certainly would not ! What I would like to see is Villa to rise like ManU did after Munich rather than follow the route to obscurity that they currently seem, to be following, with owners who treat the club as a “milk cow”

    As for the article being positive yes the suggestion of more players being added in the summer certainly is positive , but I do wonder if some fans would be satisfied no matter who is brought in .
    And talk of new players does not balance out all the critism that seems to call for bigger changes


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