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!