Date: 2nd December 2009 at 5:48pm
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Following on from an interesting debate in the forum: Click Here and an article by JayVFC also in answer to the theme: Can we go forward with MON (Click Here) we have had the following post by donegalvillan in answer to the one quoted part:

‘…he [DOL]took over a club that was an average top5 finish’

That’s true about the club in it’s Premier League history. However, the stat hides the fact that under O’Leary we were sliding. We were in freefall and sinking fast. O’Leary’s first season was impressive, though. We actually weren’t too far away from that fourth spot, too.

What we are failing to see, however, is that O’Leary’s side that year was full of quick fixes. He certainly didn’t rate our football club and he saw it as a stepping stone to what he viewed as bigger and better things -all you had to do was listen to his interviews. He constantly belittled the club in the press. After that initial first season he sold the likes of Crouch at a loss and gave us a squad full of players for the future like McCann and Phillips. There was no sense that he had invested into the idea of rebuilding the club and making it something. Poor leadership and zero vision.

What followed that great sixth place was a steadying downward spiral of league finishes and by his third year we were heading towards the trap door. With O’Neill we are getting the exact opposite.

Now there are various factors we can acknowledge: O’Leary had the misfortune to work with Doug for one, but even so, as a manager and leader he didn’t handle himself very well in this situation. By the time he left us he had lost the dressing room and the Chairman. In the same position I believe O’Neill would have still succeeded – he would then have marched off into the sunset, moving on to a job with more potential than the Ellis-era Villa.

The stat about our average fifth place finish is impressive to most fans of most clubs. In that time frame we have managed to win two league cups, too. The stats do hide our yo-yoing as a club, though, and the boom and bust cycles of the Ellis years. We were not a stable, well run club. We were a club operating in fits and starts with absolutely no consistently effective leadership or direction.

With O’Neill (and RL) we have a leader and we have direction, we have drive, experience and a winning mentality pushing us on. We haven’t had that in years and years and years. At the moment we can’t see the wood for the trees…with patience, O’Neill will get us there. The stat of a fifth place average finish is good for most clubs but, for me, it’s not good enough for Aston Villa F.C.. Prior to Ellis’s arrival in ’83 we were SECOND in the all-time honours list. Going back to 1978 we were FIRST in terms of trophies won by all English clubs. Top of the pile. As an institution we have undeniably been in decline for decades.

Stick with O’Neill, and it will be far, far better. He is the kind of leader who can genuinely turn the whole institution around. A very rare breed. I’m not talking about quick fixes, I’m talking eras of success. The likes of O’Leary simply haven’t the substance and nous to even realise that such a thing is possible – it’s a trait of the truly ambitious. To get our club back up there as a genuine, long-term powerhouse playing great football just cannot be achieved overnight. The manager has to prioritise what he wants and when it actually happens. It’s a balancing act that requires no end of skill and judgement.

Restoring Aston Villa is a big, big, long term job that involves masses of conviction and strategy. Three and half years in and it is steadily taking shape. I can see it, although, like the rest of us, that Spurs match had me squirming. We need perspective – there’ll be plenty more awful performances on the road to greatness (!) Our part of the bargain is patience, patience, patience: all good things come to those who wait…

As I keep saying, O’Neill is a proven winner, he’s intelligent and he knows what he is doing. The quality of the footy will improve as the quality of playing staff improves, all things being equal.

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