With the wind of change blowing a European Cup winner on to the dole queue, Aston Villa blogger Matt Turvey asks if chairman impatience is something that Aston Villa should be glad of avoiding.
With Aston Villa getting off to an unremarkable start to this season’s campaign, much has been discussed on social media sites about the expectation that fans have regarding Birmingham’s premier club.
Paul Lambert, a man who was welcomed with open arms after a disappointing season under Alex McLeish, appears to be feeling some of the frustrations that fans are venting as a third successive season gets off to stumbling start. However, in American owner Randy Lerner, the club has an owner who is known for having more patience than many.
Take Chelsea’s chairman for example - Roman Abramovich added yet another culling to his list of managerial casualties that have piled up in Stamford Bridge since he took over the club in June 2003. Given that Roberto di Matteo had delivered a cup double to the west London club, many people might think that their young former Italian member deserved a little time, even if this season’s campaign was not as successful as Mr Abramovich may have desired.
Perhaps those are the standards of a club that is driven by money second only to the amounts thrown at Manchester City by Sheikh Mansour, but today’s panic driven, short term football logic is permeating the mentality of the fans of many of the clubs in the top flight.
Take Villa for instance. Despite Lambert’s time at the club being far from extensive, there are groups who think more should be being changed in the short time since Villa’s latest Scottish manager assumed the hot seat at Villa Park. The question that must be posed is - what exactly were these people expecting?
Despite the fact that the club has a glorious history for those interested in peering backward into our past, today’s barometer for success is much more moderate. When one considers that Villa have won nothing at all in the past 16 years, there comes a time where reality needs to be analysed and perhaps compared with the views that appear to motivate the “not good enough” logic from angry fans.
If you want to cheer yourself up and remind yourself of the past glories we have had, may I recommend friend John Lerwill’s book 'Aston Villa: The First Superclub', a review of which you can find here - http://www.astonvillalife.com/blog/literally-everything-youll-ever-need-to-know-about-aston-villa/
Getting back to the here-and-now, don’t get me wrong - there will be no Villa fan who is happy with the club’s current position in the bottom three of the table, but Villa’s last few campaigns have involved battles at the wrong end of the table and those problems won’t be fixed overnight.
An underperforming club is certainly something to be frustrated with - I don’t enjoy our current circumstances any more than any other fan - but consistent chopping and changing will not remedy Villa’s shaky confidence, only serve to push them further into the mire.
Some may say that Abramovich’s stewardship has been sufficient to deliver trophies even though the Russian oligarch’s managerial policy has been brutal. The reality for Villa, however, is that Randy Lerner’s spending is far more moderate than that of the Chelsea owner. Therefore, it is hard to draw any fair parallels between the tenure of Abramovich compared to the relatively impoverished Lerner.
A retort I would expect at this point is that Lerner has not long sold his stake in NFL franchise the Cleveland Browns, leaving the billionaire supposedly awash with cash that could, theoretically, be ploughed into our beloved club.
On the face of it, such a logic is feasible, though one has to ask several questions before believing Lerner would be interested in a mass spend. Firstly, incoming Financial Fair Play restrictions simply limit Villa’s ability to spend in the transfer market, though they do leave holes where money can be invested in infrastructure - one of the main reasons why Villa’s academy recently received the “category one” status as part of a recent audit in Barclays Premier League Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP).
Secondly, Lerner simply does not have enough money to be playing like-for-like in terms of spending vs. the likes of John W. Henry or Tony Fernandes, never mind the super rich owners of Manchester City or Chelsea - Villa will have to do things in another manner.
I know it is galling just like many people can feel jealous when a person drives past in a Ferrari while they are in a far more modest car, but it “is what it is” and there is little fans can do about it besides knuckle down.
A sale of the club, the final solution vaunted by angered fans, also appears improbable as Lerner would need to recoup far too much money when compared to the current status of Villa in the league - would you or anyone with any financial sense pay £200m for a club languishing in the bottom three of the league? I somehow doubt it.
So fans will have to get through the situation with gritted teeth and realise that the future of the club is only just beginning, even if they first steps seem fairly slow.
- You can follow Matt Turvey’s regular opinions at his own site, Aston Villa Life at www.astonvillalife.com, via the site’s Twitter account @astonvillalife, or via his own Twitter account @MatthewSTurvey