We’ve seen so many false dawns in recent years that it seems Villa fans are destined to spend their lives in the dark of night. Do the sweeping changes behind the scenes finally signal a new beginning for the club?
In the past week the new chairman Steve Hollis has been busy putting together a new board of ‘football people’ including life-long Villa fan Sir Mervyn King, fans’ favourite (and my personal favourite former Villa manager) Brian Little and former president of the FA David Bernstein. This football board will also include a new head of football operations, who is yet to be recruited.
This week has also seen the exits of CEO Tom Fox and sporting director Hendrik Almstadt. I’ll hold my hands up and admit that I was a fan of Fox’s appointment and liked what he did when he arrived but, like many fans, I was over the moon to hear he had finally left. The only downside is a few bedsheets across Birmingham will have been ruined for no good reason this week.
Is it going to make a difference?
In the short term, it probably won’t. Another defeat (albeit after a slightly better performance) against a pretty poor Swansea City side was another nail in a coffin that is now securely shut. The Championship beckons.
We’ll find out how this new structure will really affect Aston Villa Football Club in the summer. Many expect Garde to return to France after the season has finally ended and who we appoint as his replacement will be key to success. The names Steve Bruce, David Moyes and Simon Grayson have done the rounds and I would expect this to be this sort of manager we end up with. If, on the other hand, they take a punt on Dwight Yorke, I’d get down to Primark early and bulk buy bedsheets now.
Gone will be the ‘money-ball’ approach so proven talent will be on the agenda come the summer recruitment drive. Whoever the manager is, he will need to be very busy in the transfer market.
Will it be different this time?
It will be radically different because we’ll be in a different division. The first dawn nearly broke into a glorious day: Martin O’Neil’s Villa had us dreaming of Champions League football but sensed the future was bleak and jumped ship in a cowardly manner.
After signs of improvement under Houllier and the hell of Big ‘Eck’s reign, I saw Paul Lambert’s appointment as a new dawn. Coming from Norwich City with an impressive CV, he brought in young, ‘hungry’ players and it looked like he was trying to develop an identity for the club. As it turned out, the words “In Lambert we trust” were misplaced.
Tim Sherwood swaggered into the club in a whirlwind of confidence and reeking of Lynx but, after a bright start, he too failed miserably and Rémi Garde was unable to pick up the pieces.
Will this new start be any different? Should we believe that things will change? Unfortunately, until Lerner sells up, we’ll probably see more dark days. For now at least, we can cling to the hope that things just might start to get better.