Date: 26th April 2012 at 7:45pm
Written by:

I believe if we are beaten at West Brom, Alex McLeish will no longer remain as Aston Villa manager.

I know we had the “vote of confidence” statement from the board saying that the manager and players need our support, but I don`t believe that Mr. Lerner and Mr. Faulkner would risk the increasingly potent threat of being relegated if we don`t pick up a point at the least on Saturday. If they do, they`ll be playing a very dangerous and expensive game.

As highlighted in Mr. Fear`s heartfelt but hard-hitting letter to the board here, the players have no confidence in McLeish. The youngsters aren`t enjoying their football like they should be and are growing up fast in the wrong way thanks to the injuries we have suffered all season. The seniors don`t listen to him because they think they know what works and what doesn`t. We all read and hear about how Alex McLeish is a great bloke, one of the nicest blokes you`ll ever meet, but as a manager he has let his personality get in the way of professional matters.

It is clear that his ego has gotten in the way of the greater good. He has vowed to fight on and keep us in the Premier League, but doing this would be more for his benefit than ours. This attitude has not been helpful for our cause, and in the blink of an eye we`ve gone from Europa League hopefuls to absolutely hopeless. McLeish is not totally to blame, obviously, but he has made the wrong decisions all season; sending Makoun out on loan, continually playing Hutton, leaving creative players on the bench due to personal beefs, not utilising the full attacking potential of the team. This is all a sign of an ego trying to punch above its weight in naivety and arrogance – two aspects of the ego which have made it into the team. We thought we could relax against Bolton straight after we scored – naive and arrogant. We thought we could rely on other teams around us to fail – naive and arrogant. We thought we wouldn`t get to this position – naive and arrogant. McLeish refuses to acknowledge any notion of a fault in his methods – you guessed it.

For the squad we have, we shouldn`t be in the position we`re in. Even by losing 13 or so players to injury this season we`ve had enough quality to replace them at a basic level, but without the right motivation it is a pointless exercise and players like Baker, Lichaj, Herd and Weimann could go into next season with heavy hearts, believing that it was their fault for this season`s failings. It wasn`t. As stated earlier, these are young guys with big hearts and they have the spirit of Aston Villa embedded into them. If we are relegated it will be devastating to their confidence and development as players , and for McLeish to continually blame the team for poor performances is to shirk the very job he is getting paid £2million a year for. A bad workman always blames his tools, so they say. McLeish`s toolbox may have been missing some vital pieces of kit, but he has had enough there to get the job done. It`s just too bad that he thinks you can use a wrench to hammer in a nail.

As for the senior players, the belief hasn`t been there since the first half of the season. Dunne, Collins and Warnock all under-performed, and Ireland and N`Zogbia publicly made their feelings about the manager clear. While Collins and Warnock have woken up to the necessity that playing for the team is still important, the rest have been inconsistent. Gabby`s head hangs low these days and he doesn`t look like he could finish leftovers. Ireland and N`Zogbia switch it on for 10 minutes at a time but neither of them seem willing to try and beat a man. Albrighton, who we can safely say is a senior player now, has been left out far too much this year after a season that (we thought) established him as a first-team regular, and it`s knocked his confidence too. Darren Bent, a £24million striker who can score goals for fun in the right team, has been forced to forage and work for his chances as opposed to doing what he does best in the box. McLeish is responsible for most of these issues.

The blueprint was there for McLeish after Houllier stepped down. The backroom staff was there, the team was there (minus Downing and Young) and the academy was there. He has managed to make a mountain out of a mole hill, and it is truly a sad state of affairs. That we have had over half of our 25-man squad out with injuries at various points of the season is irrelevant; any manager worth his salt, for £2million a year, should be able to adapt and change according to circumstances. We have seen no adaptation, no change, no flexibility, no ingenuity, no creativity or inventiveness all season, and it has led us to revolt. The board has finally recognised this after 35 games and over 9 months of negativity on and off the pitch. I believe that they will take action sooner than the Norwich game should McLeish not deliver at least 2 points from the West Brom and Spurs games. They can`t afford not to.

If he does end up leaving or being dismissed I`d like to think that his exit will be met with applause and gratitude, as opposed to picturing the image of him being stoned out of Birmingham by an angry mob comprising of both sets of supporters he has wronged in the past. No man deserves the abuse and vitriol that has been directed towards McLeish. We`ve done it because we wanted the board to listen, not because we hate the man. We`ve been frustrated by results and performances, not by his intentions and promises.

I hope McLeish realises that if he takes us down, his CV will take another black mark and his decreasing reputation will be in tatters – all thanks to naivety and arrogance.