Dear Editor, Few Aston Villa fans will miss Alex McLeish after the worst season in a generation.
Yet the real responsibility for Villa’s downturn lies with Chairman, Randy Lerner, and his executive team.
They vehemently defended their appointment of McLeish, when anyone with football nous knew it was a mistake.
Two years ago, admittedly at short notice, hiring Gerard Houllier was scarcely better.
A panic appointment, due to their careless loss of Martin O’Neill, a first class manager they had inherited. O’Neill was understandably frustrated by a reluctance to invest and keep the club pushing for honours.
The effects of this dubious leadership are far reaching. Home crowd over 15 per cent down; big reduction in season ticket sales; difficulty attracting and retaining good quality players and £66 million operating loss last year. The deflated atmosphere and crowd disaffection at Villa Park has not helped, as the team recorded the lowest number of home wins in the club’s long history.
Were this a high street retailer it would have gone bust. A bank and it would have to be bailed out. A public sector organisation and the government would have imposed a task force to turn it around.
Looking ahead, I hope McLeish finds a happier niche in his next job.
I hope the next Villa manager appointed can restore the spirit and optimism of three years ago.
Above all, I hope this executive management team has learned a few lessons and gets its act together very quickly. Proud history? Sure. Bright future? Maybe. Listening and investing more? Definitely.