It seems like a very bleak time to be an Aston Villa fan. After another poor season in the Premier League, an end of season statement telling us the club was being put up for sale (without any other information whatsoever) and with Lambert still managing the club, Villa fans are really struggling to find reasons to be cheerful. However, I am actually quite thankful because things could have been so much worse and I am trying to stay positive, hoping that the current uncertainty surrounding the club will end – and end well.
Aston Villa Football Club could quite easily have been relegated last season given that we equalled our lowest ever points total in a Premier League season (38), had one of our worst ever home records (W6, D3, L10) and, of the teams that didn’t get relegated, only one team lost more games than the Villans (Hull City). We also had the worst goal different (-22). I know this won’t seem like a positive to any Villa fan really but, with statistics like that, I have to wonder how we didn’t go down and am thankful that, again, there were three teams that were worse than us. For me, staying in the Premier League is a positive – a ‘God, I just got punched in the face and was knocked out but at least I’ve still got all my teeth’ kind of positive. It’s still a positive!
Then there was Mr Lerner’s statement that has so far divided opinion simply because other than confirming what we already knew, that the club was for sale, it did not give us any other useful information and left Villa fans scratching their heads. Is there a buyer lined up? Is nobody interested? Wouldn’t he just tell us if there was a buyer?
As the days passed, the only other news from Lerner was that Lambert will be staying for now. I seem to be seeing more and more Villa fans reaching for the panic buttons and fearing the worst. Let’s look at the positives. Firstly, the only person who truly knows exactly what is going on is Randy Lerner – a man who, whether you like him or not, has always tried to do what is best for the club. He has of course made some shocking decisions – appointing McLeish being the one that sticks out like a sore thumb – but I believe that was possibly down to being ill advised. I do not believe for a second that he would sell Villa to anyone who doesn’t have the right intentions. I think Lerner has finally realised that he is in over his head. I honestly believe that he wants us to succeed and he has finally realised he’s not the man to help us do that but I have every faith that he will find us the man who will make us successful. We also have to remember that the statement was released just under a fortnight ago. Now, I have no idea about the ins and outs of selling a football club but, if it is anything like selling a house, it is going to take a while and it is likely that it is not going to go smoothly because things rarely do. We need to have patience.
When the news broke that Paul Lambert would be carrying on as manager even I, someone who is trying to look on the brighter side of things, found it hard to see the positive element but I assure you there is one. At times like this it is important to have a manager. There always needs to be a plan B. If Lambert were sacked and Lerner somehow struggles to find a buyer then I think we would have great difficulty acquiring the services of a new manager. I agree with Villa fans who say that not a lot of people would want to manage Aston Villa at the minute. Why would you apply for a job that you knew might only last a few weeks if a new boss didn’t like you or wanted someone else? Why would you apply to work for a boss who isn’t interested anymore? I know I wouldn’t. Although I don’t like it, I do think that Lambert staying, for now, is a positive.
The confirmation that Marc Albrighton is to be released by the club enraged some fans and only added fuel to the fire, with rumours suggesting that players with their current contracts expiring would not be offered new contracts. Personally, I wasn’t a massive Albrighton fan to begin with. I agree he put the effort in when he was on the field and he had a few good performances since his return from his loan spell at Wigan but for me his final ball was poor, he gave away possession cheaply on several occasions and sometimes looked as though he didn’t know what to do with the ball when he finally got round a defender. He’s obviously had his head turned elsewhere and there are other options out there, who won’t need such high wages. The ‘no new contracts’ rumour clearly was another one that was wide of the mark, as we discovered on Wednesday when it was announced that Gary Gardner had signed a new two year deal with the club. I don’t know how many more Villa fans I speak for with this but I couldn’t be happier. He’s a talented young player with a lot to prove and, if he can shake off all his niggling injuries, I look forward to seeing what he can do in our midfield. I believe he can only get better with more experience.
For me, Gardner’s new deal is the most positive Villa news from the last two weeks because it proves that, although it may not seem like it at the minute, it’s not all doom and gloom at Aston Villa. No matter what happens in the next few weeks, it shows that we are still trying to keep the players we have already got and hopefully we will sign players too, even in our current predicament. Randy Lerner will not want us dropping into the Championship. While he probably is making cuts because he is selling, I still don’t believe that he will completely pull the plug. He will still back us to a certain extent because he will lose a lot more money if the Villans are relegated before a sale is signed and sealed.
Although it may seem very very hard to do at present, I would urge all Villa fans to stay positive, have patience, have faith and, most importantly, keep looking on the bright side. As long as the Villa flag is flying high, Aston Villa will never die!