I think it’s safe to say that Aston Villa have been on a downward spiral since the departure of Martin O’Neil by mutual consent back in 2010. But by looking at the end of the 2014/15 season it seemed to the fans as though the club’s fortunes had changed. Villa were in their first Wembley appearance since the O’Neil era and had a young English manager in Tim Sherwood who was hungry and willing to take the risk of building a young team with a distinctively British core. Fast forward 12 months and they’re sitting bottom of the Premier Leauge with quite possibly the worst team to ever play in the division. There are a host of reasons for the collapse of this once mighty club, and here is a list of perhaps the most influential:
- ‘The Chairman does not care’
Randy Lerner. The name alone sickens Villa fans all over the world. I honestly did not think it would be possible for an owner to completely distort the whole backbone of a football club, but well done Mr. Lerner, you have proven me wrong. The complete mismanagement of the club since he bought it outright from Doug Ellis and the remaining minority shareholders in 2006 is astounding. The ability to acknowledge you have bought a Premier League football club, but still choosing to apply the principles of managing a typical business venture, is beyond comprehension. The idea of ‘buying low and selling high’ is a mantra that has never and will never succeed in the realms of football as the footballing world does not fit into your average business model, and this reason massively contributes to the fall from grace seen between 2010 and present day. All that is left to say on this individual is that it is people like him that ruin our great game, and that football is for the fans not for American millionaires who want to own a ‘soccer’ team.
- The embarrassment of a scouting network
The names Paddy Riley, John Bickers and Simon Ward might not be the ones that you hear a lot about, but they are three men who are crucial to the downfall of Aston Villa Football Club. Paddy Riley, the head scout at Villa, has a main focus to organise the scouts at the club, telling them where they are to look for players and what sort of players they are to look out for. Unsurprisingly, as with most of the staff employed at Villa, he can not do his job properly. The other two names on the list are the second in command of the Villa scouting network, with John Bickers, the head of European scouting focusing on the Bundesliga, and Simon Ward, the regional scout manager focusing on La Liga and the NOS Liga. These three men are high up on my list for taking the blame for Villa’s dismal teams over the past few years. Firstly, they are not finding the right players, if they are finding any at all, and secondly because they have not put the job first. Riley chose not to track the scouts and organise who they are looking at (if they were looking at any players at all) and therefore ended up suggesting the wrong players to the club. Bickers, on the other hand, disregarded the job altogether and emigrated to Australia. Saving the best till last, Ward believed that being a scout wasn’t the sort of job he wanted so he began studying journalism at university in the UK while supposedly scouting players in Spain and Portugal.
- Consistently bad managers
The last and probably most obvious reason for Villa’s demise would be their inability to find themselves a stable manager after Martin O’Neill’s departure in 2010, although this has not been for the lack of trying. Six managers have been and gone in Randy Lerner’s short but eventful tenure, and it just goes shows that it is hard in this new football climate to steady the ship when the media are on the back of a manager after a couple of bad results. This being said though there have been better alternatives to those that Aston Villa have chosen (Nigel Pearson, Sam Allardyce, Alan Pardew etc.) and once again it falls down to recruitment at the club, which as I’ve already touched on, is a shambles.
All in all, despite the club proving that everything can go wrong when the club isn’t run properly, I do sincerely hope they get back to the Premier League in the next few years. Everyone is used to having Aston Villa in the top flight as they have been an ever present since the inaugural season of the leauge in 92/93, and they belong here with the best teams around.