Date: 15th January 2013 at 12:53pm
Written by:

Interesting article by Mat Law (one of the senior writers who sometimes also goes on the Sky show, Sunday Supplement) in The Mirror

It calls for some sort of director of football, but that aside, brings up a few very good interesting talking points.

You can read the whole article here:

A good few who know me will know I`ve said the same here as have others obviously, I’m not being a football sage here! The board does appear narrow (Randy as chairman, a CEO and a finance director + one non exec) and it wouldn`t hurt at all to have someone we identify as a ‘football person`.

Trouble is, they decided on (or if you believe the manager and Ellis inherited) Martin O`Neill. He would never have accepted someone ‘above` him because he knows everything, including how to spend madly on wages and leave a club …. sorry, I was going to get all bitter there, I`ll stop.

The article, and the bit I find interesting, suggests that Steve Stride, who was operations manager, was moved on because Randy Lerner agreed when taking O`Neill that the manager and the manager alone would be responsible for wages, transfer fees etc. He was very obviously a hands on manager and the board would, I would imagine, argue that the manager IS the football person at the club (ie you don`t need one on the board of directors as well)

The report says:

Faulkner took Stride’s title, before becoming chief executive, but it was O’Neill who called the shots. O’Neill undoubtedly made good signings such as Ashley Young, John Carew, James Milner and Stewart Downing, but ultimately broke the bank in his pursuit of Champions League football. He spent £3.5million on both Zat Knight and Marlon Harewood, £8.5m on Nigel Reo-Coker, £10m on Curtis Davies, £4m on Nicky Shorey, £5m on Luke Young and £5.5m on Steve Sidwell. Habib Beye was another £3m signing from Newcastle and was handed a £42,000-a-week salary, while Gary Cahill was allowed to leave for Bolton for just £5m.

So there you have it, if true, it does show where it nearly went SO right and ended up going SO wrong. The manager choices since haven`t helped either.

O’Neill achieved three successive sixth-placed finishes, but never managed to qualify for the Champions League or win a trophy.

Mat Law adds By the time he quit over the sale of Milner to Manchester City, O’Neill was understood to be more than £20million over the budget he had agreed with Lerner.

He ends, People who work closely with the club claim Faulkner is very good at many aspects of his job and the support of leukaemia victim Stiliyan Petrov has been wonderful. So let Faulkner concentrate on what he is good at and bring in a sporting or football director to oversee the shift in policy in wages and transfers, and work closely with Lambert. Lerner must finally start to take the advice of football people who want the best for Villa. He must also accept that it has to be a gradual process and not an immediate sea change. Taylor rescued Villa, following the club’s last relegation in 1987. Lerner may well need some one-on-one guidance on that particular scenario if he doesn’t get it right soon.

Can`t argue with that. I get slated at times (poor little old Feario, and me a little cripple boy as well) for sticking up for the CEO but sorry, everyone apart from Randy Lerner are staff, they do what their boss says and it is the owner that has to look at the fact this is not working and make changes.

I know people call for Lerner to f*** off, or ‘put up or sell up` etc…. Easier said than done. He HAS put money in (and yes, some is via the Lerner Trust and so does bear interest, the Trust can`t not charge interest but it is lower than bank rates) and he has seen near misses (a final and semi at Wembley plus at one stage so close to 4th) and total misses (bringing in the most unpopular manager ever, now fights in the bottom three for three seasons in a row etc) but for me, apart from the hiring last season, I can`t slate them. I can`t congratulate them either. The finger of blame points to more than one single person, one single incident. Whatever, the culmination is we are in a relegation dog fight and personally, unless something massive happens this January, I can`t see we are going to get out of it. I so hope to be wrong.

We reached for the stars, we missed. Now how or who will pick up the pieces and restore Villa to their rightful (or if that word is too arrogant, our historic) place in the top 6 of English football. It might be a long road back.