Date: 28th September 2008 at 10:44am
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Villa progressing well under Martin O`Neill`s leadership

Saturday 24th September 2005, three years ago we played Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and lost 2-1 to Jose Mourinho`s men. Who could have foreseen the later problems we faced that season? Our team that day looked like this: Sorensen, Hughes, Bouma, Mellberg, Ridgewell, Berger, Davis, Barry, Milner, Angel. It didn`t look too bad at that point in the season but just over a month later Villa were in disarray.

There was takeover speculation all the time. A change at the top was needed, it was going stale. Doug Ellis, a very old man running a premiership football club was becoming a joke. David O`Leary was trying his best but on minimal funds. It was that Manchester City game on Halloween Night at Eastland’s that showed us all how bad things were at Villa Park. We got easily beaten by Man City that night and we never looked capable of doing anything. Takeover speculation was clearly getting to the players and even the manager, David O`Leary. After that the season got worse. David O`Leary lost all the respect he had gained in his first two seasons as he called ‘some` of us fickle. As soon as he said a bad word against some of us there was no going back for the former Arsenal defender.

In January David O`Leary told us how he had to send Eirik Bakke, a loanee from Championship side, Leeds United back to them as we couldn`t even afford to keep him. There was problems, big problems at Villa Park.
We completed the season and narrowly avoided relegation with Gareth Barry and James Milner holding the side together. Fans weren`t happy, the manager wasn`t happy and clearly Doug Ellis wasn`t happy. It was time for Doug to go, the fans knew it, the players knew it, the manager knew it and more importantly, Doug knew it. The club was up for sale and Doug Ellis asked Rothschild’s to help out to try and find a investor for the club.

Speculation continued over takeover talks and very quickly the same bunch of players were back in training and clearly all was not well at Villa Park. A players statement was released questioning the boards penny pinching and cost cutting at Villa Park. Doug Ellis was fuming and set up a four man panel to investigate recent goings on at Villa Park. After this investigation, David O`Leary was sacked as Villa manager.

On August 4th 2006, there seemed to be a bit of light at the end of the tunnel for us Villa fans. Martin O`Neill was appointed Villa boss and was possibly Doug Ellis` most popular move as Villa chairman ever. Ironically that was his last. Randy Lerner, an American Billionaire agreed to take over the club and this is where our improvement began.

The 2006-2007 season saw us finish 11th, comfortably. We were playing good football and with some very bright prospects for the future. The following season O`Neill made more improvements to his squad and we finished the season emphatically in 6th place and that was well deserved.

And now on Saturday 27th September 2008, just over three years on from those dark days, we lie in 3rd place having just beaten Sunderland at Villa Park. We are in Europe, have a very talented squad and capable of going far in the next few years.

What a difference 3 years makes.

Up the Villa.