Date: 30th November 2006 at 10:31am
Written by:

Following on from interviews with Sir Dennis of Mortimer (Click Here) and General Charles Krulak (Click Here), Vital Villa has been able to get an interview with Villa’s Operations Director, Steve Stride.

How is life different for you under the new regime? What do the new board changes mean for you? Will you be heading the transfer dealings in January? Are you still in touch with David O’Leary? (Whoever he is!) Gordonsleftboot

Whilst it is still early days, my workload has not altered significantly but I am finding the decision making process somewhat quicker. Clearly the major decisions regarding transfers will be determined between Randy and Martin.

In the past both yourself and HDE have come in for a lot of stick, have there been times where you have been tempted to walk away and did you feel the criticism was fair? Aronno7

I did in fact walk away to join Sheffield Wednesday (then a leading 1st Division Club) in 1986 but within 24 hours I decided I couldn’t leave the Club that I had always supported. On many occasions I felt I was unfairly criticised simply because I was associated in the mind of some supporters with the former Chairman.

What would you see as your biggest achievement at the Club since 1972. col8

Being instrumental in the Club being recognized by the F.A. and U.E.F.A. as being capable of organizing and staging numerous major football events.

Steve you have obviously been at Villa for a long time, during that period which players have you enjoyed watching the most? Aronno7

There have been many since I first started supporting the Club in 1960 but the following are a few who stand out for me Peter Withe, Paul McGrath, Brian Little, Andy Gray, Gordon Cowans and I used to just love watching Eamonn Deacy having opened his initial letter to the Club requesting a trial !!

Was renaming The Witton Lane stand after Doug really decided by the board, as a surprise for Doug? Or was the only surprise yours? How fast can you rename the stand? Are you glad Ellis no longer runs the club? How do you feel now that the long overdue change in ownership has occurred? The Usual Suspect

It was the Board at that time who made the decision in 1993 (I became a Board member in July 1995). General Krulak has already commented on suggestions that the stand be renamed. I am glad that the change of ownership occurred in the sense that the Club needed fresh impetus and the financial resources to take it forward.

Steve, what are the biggest differences between the way the Americans conduct business to the way us Brits do. What are the biggest lessons you have learnt in your short time working for Randy? DeanoVilla

Fundamentally there is little difference. If you want it to happen, you have to make it happen.

Steve, there is a common opinion amongst the fans that Bruce Langham was doing a good job, and had some very positive ideas. Is this true and was his dismissal extremely unfair? Or was he really just bad at his job? DeanoVilla

In my opinion Bruce was doing a good job, however he chose to resign (he was not dismissed) for his own personal reasons.

What are your views on Martin O’Neill? Who really appointed him- was it Ellis or did the new board pick him? Did he have assurances that Ellis would be selling before he agreed to become our manager? Geordie_Villa + similar from Newman.

You don’t need me to tell you that Martin is a great Manager and a really nice guy. We have a great relationship and I am looking forward to working with him and enjoying the successes which I really do believe he can bring to the Club.

Martin was appointed by the former Board but was obviously aware that a takeover was imminent.

Do you feel with your experience of UK soccer and Aston Villa, you can still offer the new management something worthwhile to the Villa cause? avfc48


On a scale of 1 to 10…..1 being free transfers and 10 is signing ronaldinho, what will be our ambition in the transfer market in January? Tylervilla

The choice of players in entirely the Manager’s decision.

What is your role of operations manager entail? what do you actually do? day to day? Meakers

Overall responsibility for the stadium on matchdays, all football administration (player’s contracts, fixtures, travel, records, liasing with FA and FAPL) insurances, compliance with all rules and regulations and many other administration matters.

Forget about Steve’s association with Ellis, we can’t all choose who we work for. Steve has my greatest respect. I can remember how he helped and supported Alan Instone at B’ham City, whilst Alan was recovering from a serious illness. He has been a loyal servant at VP for many years and long may it continue. Two questions I would like to ask is – what does Steve believe made Ron Saunders such a successful manager and does he know why Ron Saunders and Ellis did not ‘get-on’? Villacross

Ron built a great team without ‘stars’. He was a hard task master and an astute tactician. Clash of personalities.

What was the REAL reasons behind the resignations of Brian Little and John Gregory? The Q

Brian Little’s resignation was a shock to us all. He cited pressure from the media (in particular an article by Andy Gray), together with personal reasons.

John Gregory said he wanted to get away from football………….and so joined Derby County.

Who was the worst manager you have worked with and why? The Q

Billy McNeil. I felt he was never really committed to the Club.

And who was the best manager and why? JP Fear

Excluding Martin, because that would be unfair, I would personally say Ron Saunders and Graham Taylor (first time around) because they were successful (and good to work with)

Would you say Doug’s single biggest failing, apart from keeping fans at arms length, was either not picking the right manager or not sticking with the right manager when he was picked? Do you also think he made a big mistake in not bringing Brian Clough to the club when he wanted to manage us? JP Fear

With regards Managers perhaps his biggest failing was that he was impatient and was desperate for instant success.

Despite the fact the protests were directed mostly at Doug, how did you and the rest of the board feel when they were being staged and did you have any sympathy with us? JP Fear

We all recognized that Doug Ellis was the focus of fan’s resentment although it was never a comfortable situation for any of us. Personally I never have a problem with supporters expressing their views provided they are not personally abusive to any individual.

As most Villa fans seem to have a very poor opinion of our last chairman is there anything you can say, having worked with Mr Ellis for many years, that will shed some light on Doug Ellis and his commitment to Aston Villa over the years was bfr jnr

Like us all there is no doubt he wanted success for this Club. I cannot question his commitment, and when we had money he always gave it to the Manager to purchase players, even when the player would not have been of his choice. Despite popular opinion the choice of players was always the Managers.

‘Where were you sitting the night we won the European Cup?’ Denis B

Three rows behind the man who presented the trophy to Dennis Mortimer.

Why has it taken you 30 years to get round to talking to the fans? Villa Moose

Not true. Not recently I admit but on many occasions I attended forums with players and spoke at supporters clubs. Those who know me will be aware that public speaking is not my forte.

Steve, from my perspective the club has had an enormous turnaround in fortunes as this interview show. what is the ONE thing you would say has changed with Randy coming in that is something the previous regime never thought of ? IanRobo

What has changed is that the confrontational element has gone and at long last we are all pulling in the same direction.

Was it true UEFA were going to throw Villa out of the European Cup in 82 after the Anderlect pitch invasion, and how did you talk them round?? Astonvilla

Yes. Buy the European Cup Final DVD for the full answer.

I then lumped the three following questions together as they all ask, in different tones, basically the same:

I am not a fan Steve. On the contrary I believe you should have walked by now, if only out of respect to the supporters of AVFC. I suppose I can understand Mr Lerners decision to keep you at Villa Park to assist in the transition from the old regime to the new, but now that the ball is rolling and new top quality professional people are being installed in key positions, I wonder how you yourself see your future role at Villa Park, or will you indeed decide that your time is up, and its now time to go? I personally have a very hard time in believing other than that you solely looked out for number one during the Ellis years, putting your self interest and loyalty to Ellis above any real concern for the future of AVFC. How do you respond to my accusation? I don’t wish to be disrespectful, nor do I intend to make any unwarranted personal attacks, but I simply cannot understand how you failed to see, like all other supporters clearly did, the damage and decline being suffered by our great club. Yet you chose for whatever reason to remain quiet, abusing your position by failing to challenge or speak out against the policies and stipulations laid down by Ellis. Why Steve? Do you really believe Steve that you have a role to play in the future of AVFC, that you indeed deserve to have a role to play in the future of AVFC? If so, please explain why. glensider

Fans seem to have vented some of their frustrations over the Ellis era on you. Guilty by association is probably the phrase that best sums it up. It is apparent that the new owners are bringing in the ideas that fans have been crying out for. However you never once stood up to be counted and have the balls to say the club was going backwards. Is your long term position untenable? You are a fan, but you were more concerned about your relationship with Ellis than the views of the fans ….. are you ashamed of your lack of bottle? Do you look back at your input to the shareholders meetings and realise how much you offended the shareholders? Ellis ‘awarded’ you many shares over his tenure to keep you onside, this is a ploy that worked as you turned your back on the fans. Do you feel no sense of shame in collecting the money from them? Or have you surprised us all by donating the ill gotten gains to a good cause? How many others that are included in those that had ‘jobs for the boys’ should now be moved out of Villa Park? As fans view success in silverware, do you think the last 24 years have been a success? UTV voiceoftheholte

I have one for Steve. Why are you still here? crosswesleyanchapel

I respect everyone’s opinion however but with respect how do you know what battles I fought behind closed doors. I prefer to work from within, and there have been numerous occasions (particularly regarding ticket prices) when my view prevailed.

If you should ask any one of the Managers I have worked with during my 34 years with the Club that will all agree that we had a good constructive relationship and I was very supportive to them

(Reproduction only with quoted as the source)


33 Replies to “The Steve Stride Interview”

  • “John Gregory said he wanted to get away from football………….and so joined Derby County.” Love that answer!

  • Great interview Mr Fear, well done. Didn’t give a lot away and some very careful answers. But views on managers – best and worse – and Ron Saunders interesting. I always had the impression that Steve was a real fan and supporter – this proves it. Doubt we will ever know what he did to keep the good ship Villa moving in the right direction.

  • time to move forward guys rather than bringing up the past.its history and we should close that book and start a new one.

  • That was a very good interview Jon. He seems an “honest lad”. Oh God ! Not going down that road again 😉

  • A stage managed response. Did not expect anything else really. At least some communication skills have been shown. His failure to do this for 20 odd years previous, along with shameful showings at Shareholder meetings mean he will never get my vote though. He is correct in saying ‘how are we to know what battles he has fought behind closed doors’? But that is exactly the point. This was never communicated and that was his biggest failure. I believe he feathered his nest, which is why the question on his shares was not answered. But hey, it is onwards and upwards …. despite Steve Stride, whose most redeeming feature is that at least he supports the Villa.

  • There were some carefully worded answers in there. I suppose he still has to see Ellis around the club, and wanted to be diplomatic. To be honest though I still want someone from the club to come out and tell the warts and all truth of what working with Doug was really like. In time it’ll all come out i’m sure. Besides that one minor quibble a good interview, and while he tried to be diplomatic, he never avoided any questions, which is to his credit.

  • “”Sorry about the image by the way”” WHO’S HAND IS THAT OVER HERBERTS GOB? Honestly I think the answers given are honest and at least we got to ask questions…

  • Very short responses. I think Mr.Stride really had an opportunity to put the record straight and distance himself from the previous regime. He seems to have thrown up more questions than answers in some of his responses. He should have taken this opportunity to get fans onside. I was willing to give the guy a chance, but this has changed my opinion somewhat

  • Agree Geordie, could have made a much better impression – a PR opportunity not maximised (he has learnt from ellis though)

    when asked about ambition in transfers he said the choice of player is entirely up to MON – I read that as go for anybody – no limits. fingers crossed.

  • Stride has that knack of speaking while saying little and revealing nothing. Still dont believe that he should have a VP future, but accept that thats a personal opinion, and after all, what I think counts for absolutely zilch. He’s still there, will presumably remain there, and I have to live with that.

  • Give the guy a break. The General’s interview was also just as “cagey” regarding the old regime. It shows a distinct lack of personal integrity to come out and “spill the beans” and I salute Mr Stride for the way he has conducted himself, he is clearly not the type to make waves publicly but as he said, how the hell do we know what went on behing closed doors. The most important thing for me is that Mr Lerner clearly wants Steve Stride on the board of AVFC and that should be good enough for all of us, it’s certainly good enough fro me!!

  • Weak, very weak he says nothing and acts like a poor politico, he answered nothing. I dont expect him to tell all the secrets or stab friends in the back, but a fan has feelings for the club and from what I read that Steve who says he is a fan speaks with no passion or conviction. The General should send him to the firing squad!

  • gee…some of our lot are unforgiving…..
    Stride kept the balance at our club….and he did NOT always see eye to eye with the chairman….i know that for a fact….but his loyalty towards the chairman should never be questioned….and what was wrong with it ? people have no clue what loyalty he has for the club …..
    he stuck around for the good of the club…especially at times when it was easier to walk away….he in my opinion never let us down…..
    Stride is not a public person..public speaking is not something he embraces…..he is a quiet individual….who by nature is not seen or heard too often….
    i find some of the criticism of him unfortunate and shortsighted….and sure..i am biased …but i know the man personally…and i know how he has always valued the fans and their opinions….he lives Aston Villa..and has never denied that we needed a change of direction…. i was part of the South African consortium who tabled our interest in buying Villa( but we didnt have the required cash means)
    It was Stride who guided us into speaking to Rothschilds …. the fact that Lerner recognised his value and yes…a few of us (some of you on this forum included), got hold of Lerners people prior to the take over..and bigged Steve up is testimony that most connected to the club support and have trust in him.
    I can’t see why his integrity is being questioned? There was a lot that went on behind closed doors…including disagreeing with Ellis, but i admire Stride for not “making public waves”

    We have to live with it…like him or not…..Stride is still there and i am personally glad that he is. He is and will remain for some time to come Aston Villa’s intellectual property and i wish him all the best in the new era.

  • macka…no i am not…Stride does’nt make public waves 🙂
    we’re all villa fans mate…..we’ve wanted a new dawn for a long time…it’s here now….let us look onward and upward….all together…all of you…Lerner …Stride and us overseas Villa fans…
    we can’t always agree…but for the love of Villa…let us all try a little harder…especially now that santa is about to reveal whats in the bag

  • Must agree, he took the time to answer questions and we should all now try to move forward and give everyone a chance surely? I also believe SS played a very big part in the takeover going through but can’t say what I think is so because it would be breaking confidences!

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