A familiar problem is growing at Villa Park: the place has no fire about it – in many ways. It is an issue that needs to be addressed by the now ‘enthused’ Randy Lerner and Tom Fox, Villa’s new wings.

Attendance and Atmosphere

The past few seasons have seen a rapid decrease in attendances. Whether that is down to poor performances, the eye-popping prices or both, the atmosphere and attendance are not the same. Brigada is trying to solve one of these issues but this group’s goals cannot be achieved without club and supporter co-operation, which is not happening. The ticket prices are at a eye-watering high. The attendances are at a real low. Only around 33,000 fans attended the game against Manchester City at the weekend. That is not on. No team should have to play in front of 33,000 when there is room for an extra 9,000 supporters.

The club is still in a transitional phase. Villa is not a ‘Sky four’ team and therefore cannot afford to miss out on vital gate receipts. If the Villans were in the top four, a fan would expect to have to pay £45 a ticket but why should these prices stand when the ground has empty seats galore? The atmosphere has lost its sting. Teams feared Villa Park but now it has turned into a circus tent. Supporters visiting Villa Park can sing about an empty stadium. It is an embarrassment to the Premier League let alone Villa not to fill the stadium in the second city in England. Nobody expects Lerner to cut the season ticket costs by too much but match day tickets are too pricey for a fan who cannot get to every game or who is visiting Birmingham.

Front Line

‘Oh, Christian Benteke, Oh, Christian Benteke’ rang around the stadium in the sixty-second minute against Manchester City as a man who has been sorely missed, a man with a big future – and build – returned to action. Agbonlahor has offered no fire and neither has Weimann. Robinson is on loan and the Villans cannot rely on the rest of the side to score. Benteke can offer a lot. He can create and score. Benteke is the man to fire Tom Fox’s dream of Europa League football this season.

With Kozak out until January, the big Belgian can stamp his authority on the central role. Kozak did not deserve such bad luck. He has been forgotten this summer, as the questions were all about Benteke, not Kozak. The Czech has an instinctive touch. He has had no time to really bond with Benteke. If they could hit it off, Villa Park could see more goals this season than in any of the past four.

The fire needed up front is currently nowhere to be seen. After sixty-two minutes on Saturday night, Villa fans witnessed the flame-thrower that is Benteke entering the fray – and they responded accordingly. Fans can look forward to Benteke causing mayhem again after the international break. Lambert can kick-start his season in October, with some big teams out of the way. The fire in the front line should be reignited soon, in perfect time for a tough winter ahead. With time, Lambert’s Lions can roar again. The season is definitely going to be a slow burner and there will be no smoke without fire with Roy Keane around.


  1. Decent article Matt,

    The problem is belief!! Take away belief in any situation and you remove the excitement, expectation, passion, drive & excitement in one foul stroke!! This is sadly what has happened at Villa Park. Who on Earth wants to go and watch a toothless, average team basically sit and defend and if their lucky maybe have a shot or two, though seldom on target, in a game? I used to be a season ticket holder in the Holte end but now I can’t even see the point in paying what is quite a lot of money to feel a mixture of apathy, boredom and embarrassment as we get pounded for 80 minutes and simply cannot hold onto the ball for more than 3 or 4 passes at a time and hoping that a few of those passes are enough to catch a team on the break and create a scoring opportunity. That’s only part of the problem too as we then have to hope one of our players actually gets their shot on target for once rather than choose the wrong option and make a right pigs ear of it.

    I started watching Villa in the 70’s and was there every game when we shredded teams with the pace of Morley, graft of Bremner, silky skills of Sid Cowans and leadership of Mortimer and with the lethal finishing of Shaw & Withe we won the League & European Cup as we all know. That was also largely a counter attacking team but it was a million miles away from the current lot. They were entertaining, exhilarating & full of quality, this lot are dull, depressing & severely lack quality in key areas… We have no creativity in midfield..we lack a Cowans who can spot a 50 yard pass, we lack a Morley who can create or score from nothing and run round players for fun and we definately lack a Gary Shaw who can pounce on anything loose in the box..and actually hit the target!!

    What we do have is Benteke.. our modern day Peter Withe, a new solid back four and a good Keeper but we are some way off being able to effectively incorporate Lambert’s game plan and sadly the current team are simply not fun to watch and havn’t been for a long long time..They have the odd moment for sure but that’s rare and more often than not a visit to the hallowed ground is sadly not worth the admission fee and hasn’t been for a generation now almost, sadly this is now being reflected in the attendances.

    But the atmosphere is about belief.. even the most ardent fan, when being asked to be passionate about a substandard product, has his limit.. I know because i am/was such a fan and it has gone on for so long now that the club faces a huge challenge to re instill that belief as the only way to do it is to build a successful team for once. Thirty two years since the last major event in the clubs history has massively diluted the perceived image of the club and the only way to rectify that is to be honest with supoorters, set some new realistic goals and actually start to achieve them…only this will have the desired effect of belief and bring the passion back to Villa Park again…Tom Fox has done the exact right thing in doing just that!!.. Re focusing us on Europa league and top 10 finishes as a minimum.. Well done Tom Fox!! That was a good move though now we have to achieve it!! Then & only then will belief start to return!!….It can be done Keep the faith! 🙂

  2. The Fire went out four seasons ago. Until Lerner comes down off his throne ( and speaks openly to fans) this feeling of decline continues. The manager should never have been offered a four year contract ,if you think fans will come back to watch this type of football for four years , your as deluded as Lambert, and Lerner.

    The results reflect a team of other clubs cast offs. As a fan of 40 years, the soul of this club has been destroyed by a very poor chairman, who hides away.

  3. The attendances have dropped because Mr Learner wanted costs cut and the dramatic squad reduction and promotion of youth resulted in backs to the wall football. Lets face it with the lack of possession, chances and drubbings at home I am amazed anyone turns up.

    But despite the recent losses we are better this year, crowds will return when we play better, and the return of Benteke is nicely timed but it may take him a while to get back to fitness and sharpness.

    We need goals,, and this team does not have goals in it. Yes it gets forward well and yes they get in very promising positions but it’s all down to the final pass or finish.

    As to Kojack, never rated him but he may come good and I see him as Bentekes replacement not alongside him.
    biggest disappointment is bent i really thought he may have had more games, sadly it looks like he is finished as a premiership player for now and thats such a waste

    one thing is clear, delph, richardson, westwood, cleverly need to chip in with some goals,, starting with everton

  4. When a manager whose team has been performing reasonably well in matching an in theory better side, decides to put on a known prolific scorer and shut up shop, with the inevitable result, then it is fairly obvious why there is no fire.

    Think on if Scotland had voted Yes, we could have deported him.

  5. I watch from British Columbia for the 7 years. Cost $17.00 SNET subscription. I’m thinking of cancelling. Parking the bus with no sense of dare or adventure is tedious. Even a lower league side would give it a go, roll there sleeves up, clench their fists and give their fans something to watch. Even the team selection seems to lack self-belief. I thought Roy Keane might change that. Its a shame, we used to entertain and I remember Villa Park being a fortress. No more parking the bus!

  6. Some fans do not go due to ticket prices. Other fans choose not to go because of performances. If tickets were lower in price we would fill the stadium. Look at Newcastle fans supporting their team through a bad time for them at the moment.


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