Another Turbulent Week at Aston Villa

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Sadly, we have seen yet another disastrous week at Aston Villa:

1. Benteke suffered a horrible injury, ruling him out for at least six months.

2. Villa lost against Fulham for the first time in a league game at Villa Park in my lifetime – and I am 40! 1973 was the last time the Cottagers beat the Villans in the league.

3. For the first time in their one hundred and forty year history, the Villans lost a tenth home league game, which makes it nineteen league defeats at Villa Park for Paul Lambert from thirty-six games more than one in two.

4. That defeat means Fulham, a team that has lost twenty-two games and conceded seventy-four goals, has completed the double on Villa this season.

5. Lambert’s side has now won just four of the last eighteen games, drawing three and losing a whopping eleven, amassing a mere fifteen points.

6. Aston Villa now sit just one point ahead of last season’s total at this stage yet a couple of months ago Lambert and Faulkner were telling anyone who wanted to listen that we had made great progress from last season. I begged to differ then and I beg to differ now.

7. Charles N’Zogbia confirmed he is fit but has been told to stay away from the first team squad. Lambert, only a matter of weeks ago, gave an interview to the press claiming N’Zogbia was nearing fitness and would be utilised! If Lambert doesn’t rate a player or dislikes his attitude, that is his right as the manager but he shouldn’t lie about it! The irony is that N’Zogbia is exactly the sort of player we could have done with in some of the disastrous home defeats against likes of Stoke, West Ham and Fulham.

All of the above is more proof of how poorly Aston Villa Football Club is being run, with the exception of point one, which is extremely unfortunate for all concerned. However, Benteke did play in most of the other nine home defeats before anyone starts using his absence as an excuse for Saturday’s poor showing.

It’s an absolute shambles right now – on and off the pitch. Only the hospitality divison comes out with any credit but, as you have heard me say more than once, echoing the words of my father, this is a football club, not a hotel!

Chris Hughton was fired yesterday with a record of seventy-six points from seventy one Premier League games. Lambert has seventy-five points from seventy Premier League games. Most thought Hughton deserved the sack (although the timing is crazy) yet Villa talk about giving our manager a new contract!

Jamie Carragher recently said, “Villa are a great club but are merely drifting.” Ron Atkinson was recently quoted as saying, “Villa have become insignificant.”

Rather than repeat why this has happened, my Hodgson Report from six weeks ago can be found at the end of this piece. I honestly don’t think one word is out of line or out of place. It’s a fair assessment of what has ultimately been a very poor stewardship. Lerner has spent the best part of £200 million in eight years and is left with a team that is poorer than the one Ellis and O’Leary left him when they vacated Villa Park. Lerner has been let down badly by managers, players and board members alike but, ultimately, as in any business, the buck stops at the top.

Sadly for him, and ultimately for Aston Villa, he has proved to be no better at sports team ownership in the UK than he was in the USA with the Cleveland Browns. I believe a parting of the ways is inevitable and is sought by Lerner, despite protests from the club to the contrary. Can we honestly believe a word of what they tell us? The equity swap of debt to shares, the minimal investment in January and failure to attend matches all point to a desired exit.

We just have to hope that he sells to someone who wants to be hands on and who will put people in charge who understand football, understand Aston Villa and who have a deep desire to restore Aston Villa Football Club to its former glory. A board of former bankers from MBNA without football brains or Aston Villa knowledge were never going to achieve this despite, in the first four years at least, their best efforts.

The Hodgson Report

The Board

The main Aston Villa board members are Randolph Lerner, Paul Faulkner and Robin Russell, with General Charles Krulak as the one non-executive board member.

It’s become very clear that this is a board ill-equipped to run a football club successfully. The knowledge simply isn’t there regarding football in general and Aston Villa as a football club in particular. There is a very long list of expensive mistakes made – too long to list – but proof is in the pudding: we are struggling to match Doug Ellis and David O’Leary last season’s (2005/6) points tally (42) for the third season running.

Off the field activities are run well, including an excellent hospitality division and good work in the community with charities like Acorns. However, Aston Villa is a football club, not a hotel.

This means the club relies solely on the football manager for leadership and direction on the football pitch – a dangerous scenario as an air of invincibility starts to surround this one individual. This was very apparent with Martin O Neill and is evident again with the current manager, Paul Lambert.

Until recently, I had a reasonable relationship with Paul Faulkner and always tried to advise from afar where possible. It was becoming more obvious to me and several others every week that despite our fairly comfortable position in the Premier League we were digressing in our playing style, which would lead to big problems not too far down the line.

I took the time out to write to Randy Lerner about my concerns and made some suggestions as to how we could improve things.

Suffice to say, the reaction I got was not expected and led to me being told I was no longer welcome in the Aston Villa directors’ box/restaurant. The reasons given? I was informed in writing that I had infringed on Mr Lerner’s privacy by discussing his attendance record (hardly a secret) on Twitter and was told in person by Paul Faulkner that it was for not being supportive, his exact words being:

“What were you trying to achieve in writing this letter to the owner? The manager has seen it and is not happy. We would not want you to outlast your welcome here, Howard.”

I found his behaviour incredible: he was talking to me like an employee when in fact I was a customer who had spent a great deal of money over the last two years on match sponsorships and directors’ memberships, not to mention being a season ticket holder for thirty-six years and from a family that has had long-standing relationships with many of the previous owners (Ellis, Bendell, Kartz).

It’s very sad that constructive criticism is just not allowed at Aston Villa these days. The press also have to tread very warily for fear of being banned if they print things not to the liking of those in power at Aston Villa Football Club. How can that be right?

We have been failing for four consecutive years and yet all we are told by the board is that a long term plan is in place and they are satisfied with the progress being made. What progress? We had bad seasons under the Ellis regime but never four in a row! Even when we went down in 86/87, by 89/90 we almost won the league, as we did in 92/93. What do we have to show for Lerner’s regime? Three top six finishes and a Cup final, which all seems to have happened a long time ago.

The Manager – Paul Lambert

£40 million has been spent by Paul Lambert on sixteen new players yet we remain on course for another struggle, with the same low points achieved by his predecessor and the style of football hardly having improved. That is not my idea of progress. When money is not unlimited perhaps bringing in three left backs and four big centre forwards is a tad misguided, especially when the spine of central midfield, central defence and wingers remains woefully inadequate. The fact Lambert seems so obsessed with big strikers tells you a lot about his thoughts tactically.

He is primarily a ‘behind the ball’ manager: get men behind the ball, soak up the pressure, let the opponents have the ball and then hit them on the counter attack. This can work away from home, as we have seen, but at home counter attacking opportunities are rare except against top sides that will dominate. Most sides sit back and say, “You have the ball Villa. You are at home. Break us down”. Sadly, we don’t have a clue how to do that and other teams now know this.

Our only plan is to go sideways, backwards, opt for a long ball as we don’t commit men beyond the ball or run enough off the ball for the man on the ball to have options to pass to in front of him. Movement draws opponents out of position and creates space. We just don’t do this for fear of – you’ve guessed it – being hit on the counter attack! We hold position far too much. Even our full backs haven’t been getting forward this season so the man on the ball at Villa Park, literally, has nowhere to go but sideways, backwards or long. This makes it very easy for away teams to defend. Added to this, they know they don’t have to create much for us to concede a goal as we nearly always have a lapse in concentration, particularly when Vlaar does not play.

Lambert is the manager and he is paid a lot of money to do far better than he is doing. I see the same turgid stuff week after week, with no attempt to change or improve. He has openly admitted he doesn’t know why we play so poorly at home but surely he realises it comes down to what I have just outlined? People tell me he has made us more solid. Well, so what? It’s not paying dividends with the results. It did perhaps when we were sitting on nineteen points after fourteen games but negative, long ball football always gets found out in the end, much like it did in the McLeish season, and we now have amassed just nine points from the last thirteen games, failing to score in our last three games against teams around us or out of form. It’s no wonder he spends so much time chasing big strikers as our whole home strategy appears to be hitting long diagonal balls to a big man for others to feed off. It’s a tactic that is out of date and in any case the big number 9 is too often isolated anyway.

I must confess to being supportive of Paul Lambert’s appointment. I honestly thought a bright, young manager like him would be just what this club needed after the disastrous appointment/reign of Alex McLeish. He came with a reputation of having his teams play attractive, attacking football and first and foremost we’d try and win games regardless of the opposition. He made a point of addressing the home form himself when he first arrived, saying it was about time the Villa fans started enjoying their team’s football at Villa Park again. Well, thirty-two games on and with only eight wins registered and some of the worst, most aimless football I have ever seen at Villa Park in thirty-six years of attendance, I am still waiting to enjoy myself, Paul.

I did think we were on to something positive between February and May of 2013. We played positively and even found some form at Villa Park. The QPR game (second half) and Sunderland games were big highlights, as were the first sixty minutes against Chelsea when, until Benteke was sent off, we were the better side. I went into the summer feeling we had a real chance, if we kept playing in that manner, of achieving fifty points this season. Those thoughts were strengthened by the win at The Emirates and the strong performance against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Sadly, since that second game we just haven’t performed with the exceptions of a bright second half against Manchester City and an excellent first half against Liverpool. We have had some narrow wins against Southampton and Sunderland but, overall, it’s been regression all the way. I honestly don’t think we have put one consistent ninety minute performance together – a feature of Lambert’s reign – and I believe we have only won two games by a two goal margin and none by three or more.

Lambert has proved to be a major disappointment. His tactics, as outlined, are one dimensional, predictable and far more negative than I ever imagined they would be. Tiote made a telling comment on Sunday after the game, claiming he never felt Villa came to win the game. That mindset has been too apparent in recent times and it’s a mindset I would never have associated with a Lambert team before he came here. Also, the same mistakes are made week after week, indicating the work on the training ground simply isn’t working.

He has bought some good players who have done well but also bought a lot of average players who just seem to be making up the numbers. Perhaps trusting a few more of the ‘bomb squad’, some of whom we are still paying fortunes to every week, or the NextGen winning squad could have allowed him to buy less quantity and more quality.

I was invited to Bodymoor Heath at the beginning of the Lambert reign and the strategy of buying young, talented players who were going to grow as a team together was explained. Henke had been appointed as head of scouting and he would ensure we were first in line to capture hidden or undiscovered gems in Europe. However, Henke was gone by January 2013.

This sounded like a good plan as long as the young players targeted were good enough to play in one of the toughest leagues in the world. Whilst some, like Benteke and Okore, are, too many are substandard, especially as we had not targeted any proven, experienced players at this level until this January window, which represented a big shift in strategy by Lambert, who had previously been quoted as saying: “This club tried the experienced footballer route and it didn’t get them much success.” It was therefore a surprise to hear him say he now did want experienced players at the beginning of January. Brett Holman must have had a wry smile on his face when he heard Lambert say this as he had suggested the same thing a year earlier much to the annoyance of Lambert, who made sure Holman wouldn’t have a future at Villa following that comment.

Conclusion

It is my opinion that Aston Villa Football Club is in a bigger mess than it was in when the original Hodgson Report was written in 2003 when fans were at the end of their tethers with the previous owner, Doug Ellis. We had just finished on forty-five points under Graham Taylor, which was deemed totally unacceptable. We then had three seasons under David O’Leary with fifty-six points, forty-seven points and forty-two points being amassed with limited transfer funds. It was clear by 2006 that the club was indeed crying out for a takeover and up stepped Reform Acquisitions LLC and Randy Lerner.

Everyone was so excited. Doug Ellis and David O’Leary were finally gone and we had a bright new era ahead with Lerner and Martin O’Neill that would take us back to the top.

Whilst no one can say Martin O’Neill wasn’t given fantastic backing in that time, the lack of a football man on the board to control the type of players brought in, to make sure we could always sell players on for a profit and not keep buying players at the top of their value was badly missing and blew such a hole in Lerner’s plan that we have since been slowly sinking like the Titanic.

Even after Martin O’Neill, Paul Faulkner, McLeish and, to a lesser degree, Houllier burnt serious millions on crazy deals for Ireland, Bent, Makoun, Hutton, Given and N’Zogbia. Hutton alone will have been paid £4 million in wages since he last played for us! You would have thought we would have learnt our lesson from another right back who hardly ever played for us but got paid £7 million in wages – a certain Habib Beye! I say Houllier was wasteful to a lesser degree as Bent was primarily a Lerner signing plus he did almost single-handedly save the club from relegation in 2010/11.

The irony is it’s the Lerner family’s money that has been blown but he continues to back people like Paul Faulkner religiously. Faulkner, as Chief Executive Officer, is responsible for these day-to-day business decisions like what people get paid and for how long their contracts run. As I mentioned earlier, Paul Faulkner relies far too heavily on the football manager as he simply doesn’t have the knowledge that someone like Daniel Levy does to make these decisions himself. Surely that can’t be right? He is Chief Executive of a big football club.

Ultimately, Aston Villa deserves far better. It is very unfortunate that Randy Lerner has lost the money he has but that comes with the territory and if you make bad decisions and don’t appoint the right people these things happen in business.

Aston Villa needs to move on. Randy Lerner either has to sell the club at the earliest opportunity as Doug Ellis did when it became apparent he couldn’t fund it satisfactorily or provide more finance to rebuild the club properly and return it to its rightful place as a big six player.

This meandering in the lower reaches of the Premier League has to stop. Frankly, I am extremely worried that we may not even be a Premiership club next season because our form and play is so bad.

You have to hope that, like in that final Ellis/David O’Leary season, we do survive and a clean sweep is made of the people in power at Villa in the summer and lessons are learnt if a new owner does come in, the biggest one being get Aston Villa people who understand the club, the fans and the game on the board – people who will have a burning desire to return the club to the top. That, combined with the necessary funding and appointing the right manager, will mean happier times are not far away.

If we continue with Lerner, Faulkner and Lambert indefinitely, I fear years of pain and unsatisfactory results unless they have a major rethink and change their attitudes and strategies.

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Attending Aston Villa for 36 years, I have been lucky enough to see the likes of Little and Gray play as well as seeing our beloved Villa be champions of England and Europe. These days I live in Poole. Despite the 360 mile round trip, I still attend all home games. Villa till I die! Follow me on twitter @HodgsonHoward

17 COMMENTS

  1. A very well written & accurate article. However, no matter who says what, true or not, the stubborn people in charge of our club do not want to take any notice of us or anyone else & I feel it will all end in relegation, either this season or next-our luck will eventually run out. We may get saved this year by Norwich’s run in & the fact Cardiff & Fulham can’t win a game, well except against us! I was undecided about Lambert, but supported him, as I did McLeish, even though I knew it wouldn’t work. Houllier I was also willing to give a chance to, & a good job that he bought Darren Bent when he did! Yet this experienced guy, unfortunately taken ill, which was obviously nobody’s fault, gets paid off when a board job or even the “Director of Football” role may have helped a younger replacement manager with transfer dealings and the board with other football matters, but no we paid him off-what a waste of cash & experience. We all know MON had too many overpaid & expensive flops with no re-sale value & we could not as a club sustain that unless we were Man City or Chelsea, but again he had a free reign & whilst you cannot fault Randy’s backing with the cheque book, he proves when it comes to football matters he’s clueless. Then again, is it £60m or £90m to stay in the division now? I’m not sure but 3 or 4 seasons with average players on lower wages & just surviving may help him re-coup some monies he’s spent in the past so we can become a bottom third team playing for nothing every year-or have we become that already? Staying in the PL every year would probably suit now with £20m going back in the wallet every year-you can’t spend it when you’re dead Randy!! The so called bigger teams want CL football only, I’d be happy, like many Villa supporters I know to win the FA Cup, League Cup or Europa Cup-we’ll never win anything else unless somebody else buys us like happened with Man City. This whole sorry saga just shows the owner whilst wealthy is clueless about football, the CEO is good at commercial deals outside of playing matters but clueless about buying or selling players & the manager is buying cheap players, cheaper than the fans are led to believe they cost in the hope he may unearth some hidden gems. The latter worked with Benteke and a few, but really Sylla and El Ahmadi? Jesus Christ I’m fat & 45 and I’d put more effort in & show more skill, fight & passion. Added to this our manager has no idea about playing attractive attacking football on a regular basis. I gave up my season ticket after the McLeish season, probably my 20th one I’d had since aged 12, I attended a few games home & away last season, & one game at home this year against Swansea was enough to ensure me I had made the right choice to give it up when I did. Our current manger has a proven goal scorer in Bent, CB is crocked & won’t be fit until October if we’re lucky, would anyone with half a brain not recall him? Bury the hatchet and get him back playing & scoring for us. Gabby is clueless in front of goal most of the time, his record speaks for itself, Weimann isn’t prolific, neither is Bowery, Kozak looked to be improving, just unlucky with the injury & he obviously doesn’t fully fancy Helenius. We don’t have the luxury of a Lampard or Gerrard, & by that I mean a midfield player who over the last few years has regularly delivered lots of goals or assists so the goals must come from the front men, so use one who if he get’s the service & a run in the side will score goals. Yet again, it’s poor management on and off the field, Milner goes for a good price which we then undersell by taking Ireland who obviously didn’t want to come, Young goes (no issue there) & Downing was a Judas after taking 7 months wages whilst crocked, but none were replaced to supply our first prolific goalscorer since Withe or Shaw. Barry on loan was supposedly a certainty in the sense that he was willing to come but PL didn’t want him-really KEA & Sylla over Barry? Would he have not done a job for us for a season or two, and he certainly could have added experience at Centre Back when we were struggling as a temporary fix to help us out. We’re doomed as long as Lambert stays, Randy doesn’t release the purse strings a little & appoint some experienced football people to the board & while Faulkner is still allowed to run the football side as well as the commercial dealings. Bring someone experinced and respected like Atkinson or Venables to the board room, take a punt on Hoddle as manager, or Sherwood when he’s sacked as at least one could pass a ball and the other shows passion. Finally, and for god’s sake buy some bloody wingers, defenders and some decent midfield players before it’s too late!!

  2. very interesting, but why was it that Doug spurned your efforts to buy the club in preference to selling to Randy ?

    As for talk of CNZ being fit to play & being told that he can’t where has it been clearly stated that is the case ? The players post of Instagram was ambigious @ the very least . And whilest it could read that way , equally & inlight of the fact he took a huff after being substituted durring the ManU game last season it could equally be read that he was waiting to be invited to join the team for training , Something that surely as a player contracted to the club he should do of his own volition & not need a personal invitation to do so . Also if he has not started team training which seems to be the case how can he be anything like being fit to start ?

  3. Colin I,m sorry mate, your either being paid by the board or your head is stuck so far up your like an old bread wagon horse, just goes the one way and can not see for the blinkers.

    Two excellent reports, factual and in the most part very accurate.

    Its very true today that we seem to be getting football club owners who just want something diverse in there portfolio. The result is they have no feelings for the club or its traditions. I will give the Banker his due he listened when name change was mentioned and we are still (after a pattern) playing in claret and blue.

    If your dissatisfied with a product you can report it to the Consumer Association, the fact that we are all loyal True Villa supporters prevents us from doing stuff like that. Sure if we all stayed away for a game it might give the board a nudge BUT remember the great Tommy Docherty saying ” stick eleven shirts out to dry” and ten thousand supporters will come to watch them dry. Such is the wonderful fan base we have that’s still probably true today.

    We are a club just begging to explode, we want to be talked about all over the world, we want, NO need, to be competing for top six, week in and week out. This club has a wonderful fan base and its being TOTALLY disregarded in the pursuit of the almighty dollar.
    The days of you must speculate to accumulate, have long gone in this club, maybe because the owner knows the manager does not have a clue and as he himself is naïve when it comes to soccer, his hermit like attitude is DAMAGING rather than helping.

  4. Regarding the ZOG… When told by a random on twitter he should not be on holiday, but at training helping out the side, He replied, “Will they allow me to train with them?”

    Now while conspiracy theorist fans want to argue that it’s him being frozen out, in fact it only suggests that the club won’t let him train, probably because that’s what happens when you’re injured.

    I like listening to and reading facts, not theories people drum up to get attention for their websites/magazines.

  5. Colin – I never bid for the club.. My father talked of an idea where the fans could buy the club from Ellis.. No formal bid was ever made. Are you confusing me with Michael Neville?

    AVFC 1234- You say you want facts. So you don’t find that article factual? Sorry but it is. Re CNZ he was bombed out of Villa at the end of last season. He was driven away from the awards dinner at the start of the evening. I was there. Paul Faulkner confirmed he was finished here. He ruptured his Achilles over 9 months ago. He is fit just as Dunne was towards the end last season. Lambert has told porkies about Bent, Dunne, Lerner attendance and now this. You don’t want to believe it that’s your perogative but those are the facts.

    Roy- Fantastic detailed reply that should be an article itself.

    Trevor- Agree with your sentiments entirely.

  6. The bottom line is the club is now a non-entity in the eyes of the non-local media. We’ve now became a club of total mediocrity, no ambition at all.

    Our manager is out of his depth and has very limited tactical nous. We cannot play on the front foot. Our build up play is the worst in the division. We cannot win when the pressure is on against teams on equal footing to us. We are one dimensional and totally ineffective in possession of the ball.

    We only turn up 4/5 times out of 38 when we can play on the counter as underdogs with no pressure.

    This is not acceptable and I have voted with my wallet.I won’t blindly support a club that lies to us regularly and gives us nothing back.

    Worst home record in our history. Dour football, no ambition. Unless another 20000 do the same as me nothing will change. We need to send a clear message that things need to change.

  7. I posted this to Paul Faulkner this week and got a reply from Nicola Keye who stated she had forwarded the message onto him

    You may recall I have sent a number of emails during the reign of our previous manager questioning the direction of the club, now I feel it is time to question the “project” that the club is currently taking part in.

    Up until the 2012/13 I was a season ticket holder for many years, but due to the distinct lack of ambition shown by Aston Villa since Paul Lambert has taken over I have not been a season ticket holder since and now refuse to visit Villa Park due to the complete lack of interest that now seems to shown to our club from the owner and senior management.

    You often talk in the press about the “project”, could you please clarify what this “project” is? After almost 2 years of it we are going backwards at an alarming rate and now have the worst squad seen at Villa Park since the relegation season of 1986/87. Under Mr Lambert we have now lost 19 league games at Villa Park, this is truly an embarrassing statistic, we have a win ratio at home of 27% under him which is truly shocking, Mr Lambert likes to point out our away record is good but that is even worse at 26%. Is this progress, is this the project you speak of? The way the club the club is being run and managed will only guarantee one thing and that is relegation, it may not be this season but it will happen in the near future. The quality of football on show at Villa Park is also some of the most retrograde one dimensional football ever seen at our fine stadium, not only is it poor but it does not get results!

    Aston Villa has been a huge part of my life for over a quarter of a century , and the pain felt at our current plight is real. We are a proud institution that deserves better than this. We are Aston Villa, inventors of the modern game and former Champions of Europe. Now we are a pale imitation of the club we once were.

    Please see the attached document with detailed statistics that highlight how abysmal the past 2 seasons have been for Aston Villa.

    The time for change is now, before thousands of fans are driven away, possibly for ever.

    Kind regards

    Chris Hearn

    Ex – Season Ticket Holder

  8. Howard, there were several schemes doing the rounds including one which fans actually paid money into but which you were involved with I must admit I have forgotten.

    As for CNZ being fit, how can he be match fit if he has not been training with the team? It’s easy to say somebody is fit coz he has recovered from an injury but fit for what? Playing tiddly winks? Certainly he would not be fit to play @ the high intensity required of a player in the Prem. As for what happened @ the awards dinner perhaps you should tell all, as there’s usually 2 sides to every dispute and all we’re hearing is half a tale. And with only half a tale it’s easy to imagine what you will .

    So what that your an ex-season ticket holder Chris? What have you got to justfy your comments that the club is going backwards? Of course the team is different to the one that was 6th for 3 season yet was not going further , as it is being demolished and rebuilt from the ground upwards. But perhaps you have difficulty comprehending what the implications of that are or what is meant by a project by Lambert.

  9. I think the most concerning part here is the reaction to criticism. Howard has obviously spent a huge amount supporting Villa, eventually paying for seats in what I presume are the most expensive seats in the house. Unless his letter to Lerner “crossed the line”, which I doubt, I find it amazing he was then not welcome in that area. We hardly seem to be fighting off people willing to pay for seats in the directors box. With the letter being shown to Lambert it strikes me this is where that direction might have come from – just a guess.

  10. Chris, you’re concerned about how much Howard has spent to watch Villa play but it’s peanuts to what Raqndy has spent on the club. And so what that he can afford the “best seats in the House” to put it into theatre goers’ terms, but that’s all he’s paid for . And when go to watch a show you go to watch a show that’s what you see unless it cancelled. If the show is cancelled yes your entitled to your money back, but if you saw the show well even if you did not enjoy it what you paid for was being there . And sport is no different – you pay to be there irrespective of how much you paid to watch as the charge is for the use of the facility to watch & is relative to the seat etc you get.

    If you’re a sponser or backer of a show or sporting event then yes that does give a right to expect more for your money .

    But what of Randy? Everything I hear about the guy is it he is a very private person , so why should he not be entitled to his privacy? Why do fans think that because he owns Villa they can invade that privacy, or deny him the right to watch the match on his terms as after all he has paid a hell of a lot of dosh to do so? Put yourselves in his position & think how you’d feel if somebody harrased you while you were sat in the most expensive seat watching the match. I know I’d be bloody annoyed if I was in his position . Just because he has a few lorry loads of dosh more than most of us does not mean that he can spend it @ will ,as when it’s spent ,it’s gone . Now that might be OK if you’ll get more tomorrow & you know that when you’ve spent that there’ll be more coming on a certain date . But the world of high finance is not like that & it can be that if you have £5m today & spend it it’s gone but if you wait untill tomorow or maybe next week that £5m will be £10m. It leaves a quandry , it may be OK to wait but then again it may not as what the £5m was to be used for may be sold or also doubled in value but which way do you gamble?

    But we’re talking about footie &buying players , and whether to buy a team or just one star player . But do you buy the team or the star player 1st? I’d buy the team 1st as the star player is not much good without a team to support him . But yes Villa have a team I can hear you all say. But that team was rotten so if you buy the star player he may well be valueless by the time you’ve replaced the rotten players in the team. And either way the team in all probability will not produce the desired results until you’ve replaced the rotten team & brought in a star player to perform with him.

    It’s easy to say buy the team & the star player but where will that get you if you spend all the dosh ? Even with all the owner’s billions Man C took what was it? 3 seasons to build their squad? And it’s easy to say that Randy promised this & that when he took over, but when he took over Man C did not have their billions & he was one of the richest owners in the Prem , but now he is just one of several rich owners, thus devaluing what he spends on the club . But he is still spending even if it’s not as much as fans would like to be seeing spent.

    But what if fans succceeded in driving Randy out ? It’s easy to think about how things might go if loads of dosh was poured in, but perhaps fans should look @ the demise of Man U, how much debt their owners & the club have! Villa’s facilities @ Bodymoor are world class courtesy of Randy , but just imagine them becoming a health spa with the addition of a hotel ! Not saying it would happen but it could if a new owner decided to asset strip the club & Bodymoor is one factor that attracts players to Villa.

  11. Colin, you’re ‘head in the sand’ attitude leaves your comments looking as delusional as those expressed by Faulkner and Lambert!
    Clearly an opening with your name on it at the AVFC ministry of misinformation awaits you!
    If you really can not see the true scale of the problems faced at our beloved club at this present time, even after reading the facts of the matter expressed eloquently and succinctly in Howard’s well informed article which speaks for so many of us ‘true’ Villa supporters, then frankly your responses are designed to achieve nothing more than ‘agitate’ or you’re quite clearly attending or non attending different games to the rest of us!
    To coin a phrase ‘Wake up and smell the coffee …. Mate!’

  12. Steve I’m very awake & I can see beyond the so called problems . As for Howard expressing the views of most fans is he ? Or could it be that he is expressing the views of a vocal few & the sheep that follow them ?

    And what is this great problem spoken of ? May be that some fans want instant success ? Or could it be that they want rid of Lerner who has made mistakes , but it is his money he is spending . As for the ministry of misinformation that certainly is an Organisation that I do not belong to ! BUT I do question where some of these so called facts that are supposed to show that Villa is failing come from . Maybe from those who wish ill of the clubs present management ?

    As for true supporters seems to me that they are the ones who apear after each defeat & stay silent after each success .
    Football is a sport and in each match there is a winner & a loser but it seems that fact is beyond the comprehension of some Villa fans who predict results on league position & get angry when they get the result wrong !
    Villa might have a big fan base (which it does) but apart from a few successes statistics show that it has never been anything other than a mid table club despite the claims of a vocal few !
    As for Villa being in a mess perhaps those that claim that should look @ the decline of ManU under it’s current owners
    As for not watching I’ve seen every match & no I’m not happy with some of the performances . BUT I don’t beleive in the “Blame Culture” that some insist should be used to analyse every match . As for claims that fans can’t understand Lamberts tactics well perhaps if they can’t, neither can the opposition . I don’t always agree with some of the substitutions , but gone are the days when top teams have a starting 11 so I look @ the squad & wonder if perhaps it’s development has a part to play . And by doing so I usually can see a posible logic to those changes which otherwise might not be obvious .
    Agitating ? Well as my comments are aimed to reassure I must only be annoying those who want fans to be agitated

  13. Colin, & all, but especially Colin. This is about opinions, you have yours & quite rightly so, & also so does everybody else & we all think we’re right!! I’ve stopped going as what I’ve seen served up has been pretty crap since MON left on the whole and the wins at VP in the last two+ seasons is pretty bad if you look at our record-results don’t lie. The only thing to play for now football has been ruined in general by overpaid players, agents and daft transfer fees (Leeds and Man Utd started the rot with £18m for Rio Ferdinand & others) is either:
    1.Wining the Premiership.
    2. Finishing in the top 4 so you can get the pot of money by being involved in the Champions League.
    3. Winning the FA Cup.
    4. Winning the League Cup.
    5. Qualifying for Europe by finishing top 6 or 7 or winning a cup to maybe win the Europa League/Cup the following season.

    Now Randy tried it by (fair play to him for stumping up the cash) spending naively with MON. It didn’t work out unfortunately & who knows Phil Dowd sending Vidic off instead of just awarding the penalty might have meant we’d have won the LC, got European Football, Randy would have spent more, MON would have stayed, we’d have attracted better players, pushed on into the top 4-who knows?

    BUT- Sh*t happens, we were robbed and it all went downhill from there, the results confirm it.

    The point is, without £200m plus, top 4 is never going to happen unless the teams above us all implode-highly unlikely. Aston Villa can only play for a European place to try and win the Europa League, try and win the FA Cup or the League Cup-there is nothing else to play for from a fans or players point of view. We can try, and we might beat some of the big teams now an again but certainly on paper nobody would back AVFC to win the PL or CL. that’s not negative, that’s being sensible and yes miracles happen, just not often enough!!

    Surely most people would like us to play well, win matches and win a trophy of some sort? I would!! Well, those listed above are what we can compete for-there is no Champions League Football or any chance of it with the current crop of players we have, can you imagine Baker trying to mark Zlatan, Messi or Ronaldo? EL Ahamdi mixing it up in midfield with Iniesta or Schweinsteiger-most of us know we won’t get there in the first place & we’d get slaughtered if we did. No harm in trying, just improbable.

    What we have isn’t a good enough crop of players unfortunately to compete top 4, finish in a European place or win a cup which is why we now have our worst home record in 140 years and are again flirting with relegation. If you can’t see it we are slowly getting closer and closer to the abyss-our luck will run out one day-I hope it doesn’t but I really fear it will!

    I have no problem with Randy reigning the purse strings in, he obviously got his fingers burnt a little, and yes it’s his money. But, if he told us “right fans, that’s how it is, there’s no cash left, or very limited monies, all I’m trying to do is run the club much more leaner now and stay in the PL for the next 5 seasons and bank £10-£20m each year to get back some of the huge sums I’ve spent already spent before I sell” he’d get one of two reactions:
    a) People would leave VP in droves as they know they’re going to be watching average players struggling to stay in the division each season-sound familiar?
    b) People would respect what he says, and stick by the team regardless of the lack of money. But we would expect maximum effort from those players every week, win lose or draw.

    Now you stated & to quote…
    “If you’re a sponser or backer of a show or sporting event then yes that does give a right to expect more for your money.”

    As a sponsor or backer of Aston Villa like you mentioned, because that is what anyone who pays money to attend games at VP is, (so we are all the same, some just pay more for their seats, boxes etc) we have a right to be entertained at the show, win, lose or draw and our players give 100% effort, put their bodies on the line for the shirt/badge as well as the THIRTY, FORTY OR FIFTY THOUSAND POUNDS PER WEEK they get because they don’t pick up £25 per game do they & the manager does not get £5k per year does he? Are you telling me the 4-1 at home to Stoke provided you with that? Yes I’ll admit there was entertainment because there were goals a plenty, I’m sure the neutrals thought “cracking game this 5 goals”. Was the performance really good enough, was the effort there, was the passion, pride or fight there? I really don’t think it was apart from the odd one or two. Now I’ve played lots of sports over the years but nobody could ever say I’d never stopped battling or gave up until the match finished and was won or lost. Yes you motivate yourself, if you’re not playing to win then you shouldn’t be on the pitch, but that motivation should also be topped up by the manager, and I’m afraid ours isn’t good enough & neither are the players.

    Is this our supposed plan/project?
    Now as a non season ticket holder I’ve also watched plenty of games on the TV and in the pub. Colin mentioned theatre-goers, well if you go once and don’t like it you don’t go back again, I’ve been lots and seen plenty & I don’t like what I’m seeing so I’ve stopped going. I have always supported Villa & always will, but I won’t be paying to watch dross any more. Minimal possession, players who don’t fight, can’t pass, take on a man or score from a bl**dy corner-I’ve had enough!!

    I have no agenda, I want my team to win every week, but in reality all I want to see is pride, passion, effort & some attacking attractive football, not soak it up and hoof it or try and hit the opposition on the break every week. I know plenty of Blues fans who have stopped going to their games in the last few years, and I’m hearing exactly the same from Vila fans now of all ages, some of whom have been lo a lot more games than me.

    We are not in a good place, our manager is simply not tactically good enough, is too stubborn with his stupid “bomb squad” and the players he has bought in the majority are the same-not up to the job.

    I don’t think many people have taken a sack everyone mentality that have written on here or I’ve spoken to about just how bad a state Aston Villa is in, but I do think we are all genuinely worried by the state our club is in or how bad things might be soon if things don’t change. Would I change the owner? Probably not, I don’t like the lack of information from our owner, that’s his choice, but we could be worse off with a loony owner-look at Blues/QPR/Cardiff to name but three.

    A change of manager for me, a football person or persons on the board, Faulkner to take over Commercial but not player dealings and £50m to revamp the squad before it’s too late. Whatever happened to that Steve Stride bloke? We’ve missed him, oh I forgot he was “bomb squad” member number one!!

  14. Roy you make some good points but your wrong about sponsoring the team by paying for a seat ticket , as I wonder how many wonder how much you or anybody else thinks about how much of that goes into the coffers @ Brum City Council , in the shape of safety certificates & entertainment licences for every match ?

    As for £200m to buy a team well yes that was the route that ManC took , but it was not the route ManU tok when they rose to the top all those years ago & nor was iot the route that one of Lamberts past teams took getting to the top of the Bundisliga . Now I know a lot don’t rate many of the players Lambert has bought in but they have proved they have ability by beating some of the top sides in the Prem and by being Internationals for their respective countries national teams
    Going the route of starting with youth & building upards aint easy as Fergie found out all those years ago with ManU & the Prem is a lot harder than the old Div 1 ! Although having said that the spacing of the teams in the Prem is a lot closer to those times than it ever has been in the rest of it’s existance

  15. Colin, I appreciate that you are trying to reassure those of us who are not as certain as you appear to be that all will come good if the present regime is given time to continue along its present course. I doubt however that even Alastsair Campbell would be able to put a positive spin on our performances over most (not all) of this season.
    I would like nothing more than to see Lambert succeed at Villa but I feel that is unlikely.
    I certainly don’t expect as you put it “instant success” only that should Lambert continue in the job and with his/Randy’s/Faulkners present strategy in place, that there is the merest glimmer that come the end of the 5 year ‘project’ the club will be in a position to push on from more comfortably attained mid/top half finishes to perhaps mount a serious challenge for a top 7 or decent tilt at a cup.
    Lambert displays the demeanor and body language of a defeated or perplexed manager, his tactics are inept! Certainly most opposition managers will be perplexed by them also as you suggest, but grateful that he is employing them though!
    Last season although returning a smaller points tally at this same stage was certainly from February onwards both exciting at times definitely more encouraging and bares no resemblance to the current lacklustre efforts.
    I will continue to retain my own and my lads season tickets good or bad, we don’t expect the earth just some enjoyment from supporting the team we love! Not as we’ve witnessed fighting between our own supporters as tensions run high as we endure yet more miserable performances.
    Unfortunately I feel change is inevitable and sadly much needed!

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