Fickle (adjective): changing frequently, especially regarding one’s loyalties, interests or affection. It’s a word that has often been connected to the Villa supporters and a tag that we’ve really struggled to shake off since David O’Leary’s time at the club.

It reared its ugly head again with the appointment of a certain Scotsman in the summer of 2011. It’s a situation that’s often compared in the media to the reaction that greeted the arrival of Rafael Benítez at Stamford Bridge, where the Spaniard has been subjected to abuse since his first game in charge at home to Manchester City. It’s a comparison that I find highly inaccurate on many levels and I’ll start off by pointing out that, despite protests before he joined, the crowd didn’t turn on McLeish until the penultimate home game of the season when we slumped to a defeat against a relegation bound Bolton. It was a result that left us precariously close to the bottom three and the collective patience snapped but, despite this, the fans gave the players 100% backing during the next home match with Spurs and saved any anti-McLeish stuff for after the full time whistle.

Chelsea fans, by comparison, have displayed banners, chanted things at the manager during games and generally given him a hard time during every single match since his arrival. In reality, any uproar about the appointment should be aimed at Abramovich. He’s the reason that Benítez is there and he’s the reason that Mourinho, Ancelotti and Di Matteo – all good managers who did well at the club – have moved on to pastures new.

I suppose the unique situation at Chelsea is that they wouldn’t be anything like the club they are without his money. By happily accepting his free spending, the big name players and the trophies that inevitably followed they’ve allowed themselves to become his plaything and he can do whatever he likes and I sincerely doubt he gives a toss what any Chelsea supporter has to say about it.

Living in the south, I’m surrounded by Chelsea supporters and I have to say that they, along with Spurs’ fans, seem to fail to grasp the reality of football and have unrealistic expectations with regards to what their clubs should be achieving. In contrast, I think the majority of Villa fans have been very understanding of where we currently sit as a club, the financial situation and the rebuilding job that Paul Lambert has on his hands. I dread to think how the fans of the aforementioned clubs would react if they ever had a season like we’re having.

Spurs are without a doubt the worst offenders as far as fickleness goes. I work a lot of weekends and often find myself listening to Stan Collymore’s phone in on a Saturday or Sunday evening and at the start of the season he was bombarded by Spurs’ fans who were beside themselves with anger at AVB’s appointment and the totally unacceptable draws at home to Norwich and West Brom. They were even booing the team off at half-time because they weren’t in the lead. Then they hit form, Gareth Bale scored goals for fun and they were right in the mix for Champions League football. All of a sudden AVB, who for what it’s worth I rate as a manager, is a football genius and the club is going from strength to strength. Lo and behold they hit a patch of bad form and the “AVB hasn’t got a clue” calls came flooding in again.

Can someone please tell me what the fans of Tottenham really expect? Their record since Sky invented football in 1992 has been very similar to our own, they’re never going to be in with a serious chance of winning the league no matter how much Sky tried to hype up their “title challenge” last season and a top four finish is the very best that they can realistically expect. The reality is that since the Premier League began only five clubs have won it and three of those have had heavy financial backing, leaving the rest of us lightyears behind and unable to compete.

Meanwhile our famous and proud club has been on its knees at times this season. We’ve suffered an embarrassing humbling at Chelsea, a morale-sapping defeat at home to Wigan, we’ve constantly dropped points from winning positions, we’re a team littered with individual errors, we suffered one of the most embarrassing defeats in the club’s history and were knocked out of the FA Cup by a mediocre Championship side. Despite all of this, the backing Lambert and the players have enjoyed has been nothing short of remarkable.

Yes, there was an outpour of anger as Wigan ran riot and as we lost to a team whose squad cost £7,500 to put together and had shipped four goals at home to Rochdale the week before but I think the reaction would be similar at any club. Paul Lambert’s name has been chanted with gusto all season and while there have been murmurings of discontent online, which you’d expect in a disastrous season, there has not been one show of mass protest in the stadium despite everything that’s gone on before. It seems to me that Villa fans have a very realistic view of where the club stands in the modern, money-orientated world of football and the size of the task that Lambert faced.

We’ve stuck with the manager and he’s shown faith in his young squad and recent results have begun to pay dividends. We’re not out of the woods yet, not by any stretch, but we’ve dug in, got important results and have given ourselves a real fighting chance of staying in this league. That’s not something that many people gave us a chance of at the end of January.

I think that whatever happens at the end of the season we, as supporters, can hold our heads up high and know that we did our bit by staying with the team and the manager throughout some of the toughest times the club has ever faced. While fans of other clubs are waiting for things to go wrong so that they can vent their spleen, we’ve spent the season waiting for everything to go right. And it will. Keep the faith.


Article submitted by Rob Holder


  1. Selective memory. For instance it was widely reported in December 2011 that Villa phones turned on Mc Leish big time following a defeat against Man Utd

  2. Your mob were booing mcleish when spurs played you at the lane
    Purely a shocking write up
    Villa fans have been poor for years
    Empty seats at times this season
    Don’t take out your frustrations on other clubs

  3. We have a few supporters that probably have high expectations I am probably in that group. Bottom line is I am passionate and I love my club, my cousin is a West Ham supporter and he text me last night saying he still thinks Villa will survive. I hope we do, but I’m not sure we may have let ourselves down… only time will tell, I hope he is right and we are playing premier league football next season. He made a point about would you have preferred McLeish this season in other words asking me to compare him to Lambert. You can’t compare the two different circumstances McLeish inherited a decent squad of under performing,experienced premier league players, and decided to make us into a dull,long ball and negative outfit none of which I like to see.However its a results business and we did stay up all be it by drawing so many games it was predictable… Lambert is a young manager he has made some bad decision’s and mistakes with regard to team selection and tactics appears to have no plan b and like O’Neill leaves it too late to make subs. However, Lambert has had to buy cheap and unproven/inexperienced players and make them gel all in a tough,unforgiving league. Our team is very unbalanced attack wise we are formidable, but defensively we are terrible two different styles somewhere between the two and we wouldn’t be a bad team. Sunderland is a winnable game but we need to score early I think. Make them come at us and then hit them on the break we have the forward players to do this, we must not let them get a foot hold if they do then we will probably blow it. Anyway enough from me U.T.V

  4. All football fans are fickle, UTD’s lot were calling for Fergie’s head a few seasons ago ! ….. but our lot are pretty bad, the atmosphere at Villa Park since the turn of the millennium has been poor to average to poor. The players feel it at the ground, that’s why we are better away from home .. if we lose to Sunderland next week it’ll be partly because of the crowd and it’s negative vibes … you can guarantee the Mackem’s will be on top top form in the away section. UTV

  5. Cant see how in any way you can point the finger of blame at the club’s support Astonmilan, for the shockingly poor home performances we have suffered through in recent seasons. This season for example the home support has been nothing but supportive, even through the most depressing of displays the crowd has refrained from voicing their anger, disappointment, and frustration. If we lose to Sunderland next Monday evening it will once again because we simply weren’t good enough to overcome mediocre opposition.

  6. I have been a Villa fan all my life now as a 28 year old I have been up and down the country with the Villa and meet some very fickle fans at ways games. I am season ticket holder in the lower North Stand and the most fickle fan I have ever meet sat the row in front and to the right of me for 3 seasons.
    He never said a good thing about are team he would just come down and have a go at them. I had a go at him the one time and everyone around me said well done to me as the guy did not have a clue.

    My boyfriend thinks that I stuiped optimistic when it comes to the Villa as I think we are already safe, as Wigan have to many games to play and a smaller team then us.

    I will never forget the season when we sent coventry it could of been us that season but it was not.

    Villa fans just need to sing there hearts out on Monday, get behind the team becasue I will be

    Up the Villa

  7. Since Sky invented football and the plastic fans that attend every premier ground turned up they are all fickle. Be it Villa, Man u ,spuds, we all have fans that know it all.

    Been suffering for 55yrs watching the Villa and I will say that this season the fans have been fantastic for supporting the team and PL. Even if we go down, the way we have played at times has been exciting as well as depressing but its been fun.

    So DB last season under McLeish the footie was dire and we never wanted the sweaty sock and me personally I would not swap last seasons team for the kids that are showing a lot of heart for the club I love.


  8. Yeah I blame spurs for our relegation troubles. They’ve been consistently in the top 5 for many years recently. How do they expect 4th

  9. You didn’t mention arsenal fans booing wenger nearly every week
    For few months and the emerites not sold out for months
    But a massive dig at spurs

  10. A tough three years for the fans after Randy (who def has our best interests at heart but ultimately has the responsibility of appointing the manager(s)) made 2 awful choices post McSpend/McGot us to 6th x Wembley twice but awful transfer dealings). This has been an awesome season because despite it all the fans have been absolutely BRILLIANT. We are the 12th man and if we stay up will have made that happen. Lambert gets that and deserves the support as despite the individual errors and paucity of cover when the grown ups all got injured in Dec/Jan its clear that the boys he has purchased are or can be major talents (and yes I include Joe Bennet – I remind you that one L baines took 2 years to show himself at Everton). If we keep the season special by backing the boys we will have done our job as SUPPORTERS. And I will take the same spirit to the Championship if that’s what it takes. it’s not a Prem issue, not a money issue, not a Randy issue, not a success issue, we all have the right to debate, but at the ground, VP or awayday, if you aren’t a supporter don’t pay, don’t attend. I think this has been an amazing season for support in adversity. I just hope it continues into 2013/14 even if we are away to Barnsley. That’s what we do. Lambert is a proper manager – fortress mentality, not afraid to drop the $$$ earners or the icons, all about commitment and can SO clearly spot a player. Even without the big bucks he can take our club to the best place it can be.

  11. I love it when people comment about our club without even the first clue as to what they are talking about. For years Spurs fans have been called fickle because we expect better from a team that for years had been under performing. Never have we said we are going to win a league, all we want is to be up there with the teams who during the SKY era (you clearly have no idea about English football prior to this period) have pulled away from us. I don’t think its crazy to want to be up with the likes of Chelsea (who up until the early 90’s were in the English 2nd tier and prior to the 70’s have ZERO history) or Arsenal (who prior to Wenger were on par with us). We have the infrastructure, fan base, history, and to a lesser extent, finances to be a team battling for top 4 long before 4/5 years ago, just poor management on and off the field put pay to that. You clearly forget that in the last 3 years we have finished 4th, 5th and 4th and in that time spawned players who have been envied (and in most cases purchased) by bigger clubs (Keane, Berba, Carrick, Modric). The fact you chose the Sky era as your only way of guageing the quality of the club, and the fact that you think that all the most knowledgeable fans listen to TalkShite Radio, tells me you know little to nothing about us. Also if being fickle is being dismayed at not beating West Brom and Norwich at home where we have had an excellent record for the last 4 or 5 years, after bringing teams such as Inter (twice), Lyon, Ac Milan, Arsenal, Chelsea, City, Liverpool to their knees in recent years, then Fickle. I. Am. Once again all we want is 4th… is that fickle? I never like saying this because i always feel that you can gain a lot from hearing another team’s supporters perspective on your own club because your own can often be rose tinted, but seriously concentrate on your own club.

  12. All sets of football fans are fickle. It comes with the teritory. Not saying all fans are because I wouldn’t include myself in that but there are fans at all clubs that will turn on the manager when things go wrong no matter who the manager is. These fans are then loader than the silent majority.

    McLeish was a different story. I see a spurs fan talk about the game at the Lane when we played fullbacks in midfield and never had a shot of note. McLeish’s defense was “you never know, we might have got a penalty!”

    Another game mentioned was Manu at home. This game we went one nil down and decide to sit on the result. Yorke described it as the worst performance from a home team he has ever seen.

    Villa fans will not stand for a lack of effort or desire to win a game and Mcleish was never going to work. We were never behind him so not really fickle in that repect. You can make a long list of negative records that the man set last season.

    This season we have been right behind Lambert. There was a few boos in Jan but I cannot remember having such a bad month for a long long time. But even 4-0 down to spurs at home, 8-0 at chelsea and on Monday night the fans were fantastic

  13. With regards to the ‘fickle fans’, I think a lot of it is the way that the media portray it. In the 4 seasons we had O’Neill, a minority booed the team on 2 occasions, once for losing 2 nil at home to Wigan and the other for squandering a 2 goal lead to Stoke in injury time and we were crucified by the national media who gave it massive exposure and absolutely slated the fans and still mention it now. It happens regularly at Spurs even if they’re dominating a game but not winning at half time there is wide-scale loud booing yet the commentators and media will never mention it. The same can be said for Arsenal and West Ham and Everton are terrible for it to the point that Moyes has commented on it. I remember playing Spurs this season at Villa park on boxing day, we were totally out played and losing 4 nil, yet despite being 4 down, for the last ten minutes the crowd were singing ‘Paul Lamberts claret & blue army’ loudly and continuously until after the final whistle. I couldn’t imagine that happening at any other premier league ground. Could you?

  14. Gary Madden ….. read my post again mate PROPERLY. I didn’t say the crowd were the reason we could get relegated, but the atmosphere certainly doesn’t help. At one game this season I’ve seen a decent atmosphere throughout and that was against QPR, what about the other 16 ? it’s been poor. Yes they sang for ten minutes at the end of the Spurs game and a bit at the end of the Newcastle game, but it’s the from the kick off that they need it.

  15. No matter who is charge and where you are in the league there will always be someone complaining about something.
    That’s what makes the world go round and god love those fickle fans because without them we would not be having this debate.

    That goes for all football fans who ever you support even those in the top 4.

    Astonmilan I would add that I think the home games the fans have got behind the kids not like last season when it was poison. Yes I will agree that the place has not been rocking but I would say that is a English mentality unless they have had a few beers? That will not change until we have a standing zone like in Germany, The atmosphere is fantastic with all sides getting involved and getting behind there team and they don’t slag of the opponents just sing about there own team. Reminds me of the 70s when Villa park really did rock, great days.


  16. The most loyal of fans stay behind the team no matter what, even if that means if Villa got relegated (I hope that doesn’t happen)the most loyal of villa fans would still support Villa. Most fans now seem to support premier league teams who are able to win most of there games.

  17. sorry but what the fuck has this got to do with spurs?…….AVFC is all i care about. empty seats there may be but there is a recession going on in this area which is hitting us hard. I work in London quite often an believe me there is NO sign of recession there.The amount of building work going on is unbelievabe.I will be getting behind the lads on monday from the trinity road an believe me the moaners and whingers know now to keep stum. Get right behind the boys or get out of Villa Park.. Simples! CABA


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