Since Randy Lerner took control of Aston Villa Football Club things have been getting steadily worse on and off the pitch. There was the initial bounce under Martin O’Neill which saw the club come dangerously close to breaking into the Champions League, but that all seems like a lifetime ago with the Villans looking set to drop into England’s second tier for the first time since 1986.

So what were Lerner’s most glaring errors? Here, in no particular order, I take a look at a handful of them.

Poor managerial appointments

When Martin O’Neill left the club high and dry a week before the 2010-11 season started, we needed a new manager – and fast. The man Randy Lerner chose in September was former Liverpool boss Gérard Houllier, who I think was probably the best manager Lerner has appointed.

Houllier didn’t hit the ground running and some fans never took to him but by the end of the season we were playing some decent stuff and were back in the top half of the table, which would be the last time we would come close to finishing there.

Once Houllier’s health problems meant he could no longer do that job and he had to leave the club, Randy Lerner did the most ridiculous thing possible: he appointed Alex McLeish as the Houllier’s successor. Not only was McLeish ex-Blues but he had also just seen them relegated whilst playing some of the worst football I can remember. Houllier had a plan, one that was starting to bear fruit; McLeish was not the man to continue that work. Garde would have been the ideal sort of candidate at that time.

Paul Lambert was next after McLeish was finally sacked and his dour brand of football just served to drag the club further into the mire.

Then we saw Tim Sherwood, a man lacking the tactical know-how to save us, take charge.

I feel sorry for Rémi Garde, who has taken over when the club is in an almost impossible situation.

Not reinvesting after the sale of top players

The sell to buy policy has played a huge part in dragging us down. Gareth Barry, Ashley Young, James Miler, Stewart Downing, Fabian Delph, Tom Cleverley and Christian Benteke have never been replaced.

Who in their right mind would think that selling a £32 million striker and replacing him with £6 million Championship one was going to work? Nobody. The net spend is poor. Buying on the cheap does not work in the Premier League. It never has and it never will. It always catches up with owners and usually leads to relegation.

Isolating the fans

Randy Lerner’s communication with the people who spend their hard-earned money week in and week out watching their beloved club has been nothing short of appalling.

The treatment of the supporters clubs is one example and his announcement of the intention to sell the club then going quiet is another. It’s just poor public relations. I don’t know who’s advising the owner in this department but even short two-line statements would prevent a lot of head scratching and quell fans’ anger.

The club needs its fans now more than ever and this is the only one on my list this week that can be fixed relatively quickly. Lerner should just be honest and let us know what’s going on, which is not that difficult.

Next week, I’ll take a look at the dodgy board-level appointments, the issue of not taking full away allocations and what this means for a massive club like Aston Villa.

1 COMMENT

  1. Mr Lerner came in with big ideas and I genuinely believe he thought he could be the man to bring back the good times. He has fallen woefully short. Once he realised clubs like Man City could buy and sell him he changed tack. His decisions ever since have been catastrophic for the club. Promises made and broken. Rebuild the North stand? Top 4 within 5 years? A casino? A train station? Appoint a replacement chairman if he couldn’t find a buyer?He has turned the club into a laughing stock. Shrewd businessman? Don’t make me laugh. Relegation this year will cost us over 100 million in lost revenue and will set the club back years. And the biggest joke of all?
    “Proud history bright future” We have a proud history but you wouldn’t know it. We never got the trophy room he promised. The trophies won by the endeavours of heroic Villa players over our proud 141 years are scattered around the ground in out of the way cabinets or in boxes under the North Stand. I could cry.

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