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Employees leave Job


blandy
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After 4 years, Martin, Steve and Robbo have resigned from their jobs at our Club. In the near future other people will be appointed to fill the vacancies, perhaps from within the existing staff, perhaps from outside. Yesterday is gone, tomorrow is soon upon us.

What did you make of the last 4 years? Why did they go? What happens next?

Around 4 years ago Martin O’Neill was appointed manager, just before the start of the season. The club was in the process of being passed from Ellis to Lerner, Martin knew this and knew he had some pretty decent players to work with, he knew too that the potential at Villa meant that with a fair wind he could make us much better than we had been in recent seasons. We had after all been run by a numpty and a self-obsessed clown (pin tail on donkey whichever way you wish).

For his first game away at Arsenal barely 2 weeks after he started, Martin had a squad that had a core of very decent players – amongst them Laursen, Mellberg, Barry, Agbonlahor, Bouma, Gary Cahill, Steven Davis, Sorensen and Baros. He also inherited the back up of a truly excellent youth and reserve set-up that continues to provide a good batch of promisingly talented young players.

So the raw ingredients he had to work with were by no means bad, and he had the benefit of the feelgood factor he himself brings, together with the impetus of a long overdue change of ownership, plus the prospect of strong financial backing from Randy Lerner, a man he’d met prior to accepting the managers role as Ellis was on his way out the door.

In that first game at the Emirates, the team’s effort was genuine Ron Saunders 110% stuff, and despite being outplayed by Arsenal for long periods a draw was earnt, where defeat was perhaps expected. It’s fair to say that the Villans, including myself, in the away end that day were pretty euphoric throughout the match. Things were on the up.

Throughout Martin’s 4 years as manager, the away games have been a real joy to go to, by and large. The style of play, the commitment, the resolve and the results have been excellent, for the most part. Over the 4 years, I’d say 8 or 9/10 would be a fair mark. From local derbies to games at Old Trafford, the Emirates, Anfield and so on, the team and the manager has done the fans proud.

At home things have been less clear cut. Results have been more mixed. Too many draws, some soft defeats and some pretty depressing cup exits to the likes of QPR and Leicester. Of course there have been some highlights, too. Blackburn in the cup last season, beating Chelsea and Morinho – he never won a game at VP, Jose. Whatever happened to him, anyway? A series of high scoring games towards the end of the season before last, culminating in an absolute shoeing of Small Heath. Marvellous.

This failure to really produce top form, consistently at home is something that produced an undercurrent of muttering about the style of play amongst a fair proportion of fans. Predictability (no “plan B”), inflexible selection and substitutions, over-playing players to the point of injury or exhaustion are all comments that have a degree of validity about them. But when all the talking has stopped, it’s undeniable that each season the team did better than the previous one. Villa had returned to the top quarter of English football.

This has been done at a fair old expense, both in terms of outlay on transfer fees and the overall wage bill. Randy has funded transfers to the tune of just short of £100 million, net, in the past 4 years.

With signings such as Ashley Young, James Milner and Richard Dunne, Martin showed an eye for picking players he could work with and improve and gel seamlessly into the side.

Other players, such as Martin Laursen, Gareth Barry, Freddie Bouma and Gabby also benefitted greatly from Martin’s influence.

Then there’s the case of Nigel Reo-Coker. He’s a player who I think has improved a deal under MO’N and his coaches. His passing is far better than in his first season here, the needless bookings eliminated, and the commitment on the pitch maintained…..But…..But he isn’t (or wasn’t) a regular. 8 million quid for a squad player.

Luke Young an excellent right back, again expensive, but often left on the bench while a centre half plays right back. A quirk that has been apparent throughout MO’N’s time is the curiosity of playing the likes of Olly Mellberg, Craig Gardner and Carlos Cuellar at right back, rather than a “proper” full-back.

And the next category to look at is the one that contains Marlon Harewood, Nicky Shorey, Emille Heskey, Zat knight, Steve Sidwell and Habib Beye – players signed for sizeable fees and wages who bluntly are not good enough for a side challenging, or wanting to challenge for a top 4 place. The jury is out too on a few others – Stewart Downing has yet to show he’s worth 12 million quid, Curtis Davies started well, got injured and hasn’t threatened to recapture that first year’s form ever since.

In terms of “why did he go?” my take on things is that a combination of the real downer of going so close in the cups and to the top 4, but on each occasion falling short, through being outplayed, outspent, out thought or just through poor refereeing has taken a big toll on morale. Combine that with new found ability of Man City to just buy the Moon on a stick if they want, and the continuing presence of Man Utd, Chelsea and Arsenal in a class above and I think the will to keep going at it has ebbed away. Add in disappointment at not being given yet another 30 million to spend on players and the sensible need to keep wages in check and you have the loss of the vital spark that is a key part of MO’N’s persona.

I make absolutely clear that the past 4 years, for me, have been hugely enjoyable as a Villa fan, and for that definite thanks go to Martin O’Neill, SW and JR, plus of course Randy Lerner. Whatever we write or think about the ins and outs of it all, basically the purpose of football, for me at least is to provide enjoyment. And Martin’s teams did that; they restored a deal of pride to a very badly tarnished club.

So what next? The timing leaves a lot to be desired, to say the least. Kevin McDonald who has done superb work with the reserves will be in charge for the West Ham game, and I’d have no problem with him carrying on for longer, should he wish to do so, though I don’t want to see the reserve and youth pipeline broken to fix the first team.

This is now the first real test for Randy Lerner, though Martin O’Neill wouldn’t have come to Villa without Randy taking over, he was already on a short list of two, pretty much. This time, the choice is all Randy’s. Will he go for Jürgen Klinsmann this time? We’ll see.

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Amen to all of the above Blandy.. You're spot on, I believe, that MON had lost his spark and enthusism (MON spelling) for the battles. I think the Milner transfer was a kick in the balls to him and, try as he might to salvage the situation, he probably thought it best to leave now than go through the motions any longer.

I make absolutely clear that the past 4 years, for me, have been hugely enjoyable as a Villa fan, and for that definite thanks go to Martin O’Neill, SW and JR, plus of course Randy Lerner. Whatever we write or think about the ins and outs of it all, basically the purpose of football, for me at least is to provide enjoyment. And Martin’s teams did that; they restored a deal of pride to a very badly tarnished club.

I echo that too.. Enjoyment is the key word for me. Regardless of whether the football was pretty to watch or not, win lose or draw, I never left Villa Park or an away game not having enjoyed myself. I contrast that with the many times previously when I walked back to my car from VP wondering why I put myself through 8 hour round-trips knowing I was going to be deflated and dejected.

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Well written as ever Peter. I enjoyed the "away Villa" far more than the version we got to see at home.. Towards the end of last season home games were becoming a "chore". Hopefuly, whoever comes in can create a fortress at home where sides fear visiting.

Recent photos and inteviews with MON showed a body language of a person who was not at ease with his lot.

Hopefully it is not related to his or his wife`s (Geraldine?) health.

I would like to wish him well but I am disappointed in the timing of his decision - perhaps we will get his side of the story when his book is reprised or if he decides to spill the beans to Gary on MOTD.

Personally I wouldn`t be too surprised to see him back at Celtic

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Superb synopsis Pete, very few could argue with any of it. Though I expect much gnashing of teeth and finger pointing over the next few days. My hope is that the fans can step back and see that we owe a lot to BOTH MO'N and RL and as only one remains he deserves our respect too. Some of the posts on here and other forums beggar belief.

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  • VT Supporter

Good article as ever.

I make absolutely clear that the past 4 years, for me, have been hugely enjoyable as a Villa fan, and for that definite thanks go to Martin O’Neill, SW and JR, plus of course Randy Lerner. Whatever we write or think about the ins and outs of it all, basically the purpose of football, for me at least is to provide enjoyment. And Martin’s teams did that; they restored a deal of pride to a very badly tarnished club.

I agree with that entirely. For all the flaws, it was fun for me.

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I make absolutely clear that the past 4 years, for me, have been hugely enjoyable as a Villa fan, and for that definite thanks go to Martin O’Neill, SW and JR, plus of course Randy Lerner. Whatever we write or think about the ins and outs of it all, basically the purpose of football, for me at least is to provide enjoyment. And Martin’s teams did that; they restored a deal of pride to a very badly tarnished club.

Amen to that brother.

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Well put as usual Pete.

Martin made progress every season and I think you probably need to spend around £20m each year just to stand still. Without that I think sixth would have been a big ask but bringing in Ireland and using the rest of the fee to bring in 2 players might have just done the job that an effective minus in the spend column would not. I think Martin wanted to continue moving us forward in that way but it seems that the financial situation outside our club has led to us losing what was and remains the best manager for the job. Randy needs to make the right appointment and make it fast. He may also need to look at the restrictions that have been put in place which led to the break up of what had been a great partnership. A new manager will struggle to continue the progress Martin has sustained with or without money. For me the best appointment would be Randy getting Martin to change his mind. But, that is not going to happen so I would go for Jol but I anticipate Bradley will be the one and we may get his son as part of the package to replace Milner.

Thanks for giving us our pride back Martin you will be missed at B6.

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Agree 100% with this post. Whilst my initial reaction like most yesterday was one of shock, on reflection today I think we are looking at a huge opportunity for the club to build on the excellent progress we made under MON.

Like many, I was often frustrated as a fan by his reluctance to utilise his squad more. Add the commercial angle of the financial outlay to acquire then pay these players and you can begin to understand the board's approach to this close season. The departures of Shorey, Harewood and Bouma may have gone some way to alleviating the high salary bill, but what of Sidwell, Beye, Luke Young, Davies? Between them they cost over £20m with annual salaries combined of over £5m just to sit on the bench. The commercial reality is that no club (with one or two notable exceptions) would be comfortable with that.

I heard Andy Gray on SSN earlier and although I rarely agree with him, this time he was spot on when he said that Fergie never got all the money from the sale of Ronaldo, Redknapp didn't when they sold Berbatov, yet neither threw his toys out the pram. You could add Moyes to this group, selling Lescott and not getting all the funds.

Most clubs have spent very little this summer, so we are not unique. I would gladly trade a few points this season to blood some of our most promising youngsters (eg Clark, Nathan, Albrighton, Lichaj) and give them a run out in some matches. I believe we will emerge stronger with this approach even if this season doesn't deliver what we have enjoyed over the last 4 years.

I'm sorry to see MON go but this is not domesday. Bosses come and go in any business, the players will adapt to the new manager and life will go on. The one constant in all of this is that we the fans will still be there through thick or thin.

Crucially we need to show great support to the team on Saturday and I for one can't wait to cheer them on.

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I agree with your analysis. I wasn't really looking forward to this season but now I am excited again. We will see a fresh approach and we still have the core of a very good side

- Milner out hopefully Ireland in

- Downing from day 1

- plus Delph (when he returns), the Fonz, Albrighton, Clark and Lichaj a year older and ready to play more of a part

- NRC, Young and Beye hopefully playing a part.

As long as we don't lose any more that makes us a stronger side in my opinion.

Don't see many of our rivals, Citeh excepted, looking that much stronger.

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  • VT Supporter

...Very good article and agree with 90 %

I don't go to as many away games as you so I have a slightly jaundice view on his quality of football...it was unconvincing for me at times, despite 6-6-6

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