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Well that's that then. Relegation here we come.


BOF
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In my mind we're as good as down now. Of all the teams at risk of relegation, we seem to be the only ones who don't realise it yet. Or we're certainly playing that way. We have sleep-walked into this situation and now with 3 games to go, we find ourselves 1 win above safety, goal difference notwithstanding.

While the teams below us continue to pick up unlikely points, we continue to play in a manner that attempts to avoid defeat. Which might even be excusable if we were managing to avoid defeat. But we're not. We're playing lousy football and picking up lousy results. If that trend continues (and it shows no sign of abating), it will only end one way.

McLeish is unwittingly engineering the 3rd Premier League relegation of his career. This time he is doing it with a more impressive squad of players. From where I'm sat, he doesn't seem capable of motivating these players or getting anything like the best out of them. I don't even have any issues with the team he is picking. His starting 11 is usually pretty good. He just sends them out with the wrong instructions. Every. Single. Week.

Recently it has become very tiring to constantly hear the rhetoric about everyone being behind him and the owners being behind him, 'we'll get through this' and the players believe, yadda yadda. Talk is cheap; talk is free in fact. Actions speak louder than words though. Insert your own cliché here. The fact is that results are sending us down. Our results and everyone else's results.

What's worse is that at this stage, with 3 games to go, I'm not even sure whether firing the manager would be a positive thing or a bad thing with regards to this season. Is it too late? Would the rudderless ship sink without trace à la Wolves? Or would it steady itself under the guidance of Kevin MacDonald and the senior players being given the freedom to express themselves? I don't know. But I think I'm willing to give it a try.

Sadly, we're also hearing that McLeish has the full backing of Randy Lerner. Now of course this is easy to say and typically you will always have the backing of the owner right up until the day you are fired, so I wouldn't read too much into that. Although it is something I'd rather not hear. It does beg the question though. Quite how badly must Alex McLeish manage this team before he no longer has the backing of the owner? Is he really meeting whatever criteria was set out in his contract? Did Randy really say that a relegation battle is acceptable? Is that the aspiration Randy has for the club now? Struggling to tread water at the bottom of the Premier League. I find that hard to believe, although I don't doubt that it's possible.

No-one likes to say I told you so when it comes to the fate of their football club. But I feel that Randy and whoever else questioned the motives of the fans can now see what they were saying all along. Yes there was a minority who were only concerned with where McLeish was arriving from and this was jumped on by the media and continues to be trotted out to this day, but the vast majority of fans didn't care about that. They only cared that we were hiring a bad manager. A manager with a chequered history of results. Yes he won an unlikely cup for the noses and got Motherwell to 2nd in Scotland but he also relegated the noses twice and got Glasgow Rangers to 3rd. His ups and downs are too extreme and his downs are more frequent. He relegated the noses twice in the worst kind of manner, playing anti-football, the worst kind of football and he's doing the same thing to us. Randy, seriously, we told you so.

I've (only) supported this club since 1987. We were in division 2 so I have never experienced a relegation. I'm sure plenty of you reading this will have. I'm resigned to it now and I'm strangely calm in the way that a condemned man accepts his fate. That all sounds a little melodramatic. It is 'only' football after all. But it is my club. I am mentally preparing myself for the Championship. In my mind it will now be a pleasant and unexpected surprise if we manage to avoid relegation. Newcastle's change in fortunes since relegation has somewhat re-assured me that all is not lost when you go down. Although for every Newcastle there are probably 10 or more others that didn't bounce back as strong.

If we do go down; and I appreciate we're not actually down yet; but if we do go, we will be back. It's not the beginning of the end but it might well be the beginning of something a little different. How different? Only time will tell. We don't know yet.

It was going to be an interesting summer either way. If we do go down, it will be a lot more so.

Surely after last night's catastrophe, McLeish's position is now untenable? Randy? Paul? Anyone?

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Spot on BOF. The lunatics really are running the asylum.

I do disagree with you about the team. I think from day 1 McLeish has not really had a clue as to what style of play he has wanted us to adopt under his stewardship and he did not adjust the squad correctly to deliver anything.

- we have not really had a proper DCM although I do think Herd is developing into a good one of these (but we should not have gone into a season with a young kid as our only option).

- we only have two proper wide options which gives no flex for injuries or lack of form.

- our striking department is unbalanced as both Gabby, Heskey and Bent are main strikers and the only potential support strikers we have (I say potentially as I have not seen enough of either to judge) are Weiman and the Fonz.

We don't really have a CM combination or two strikers that work for a 4-4-2 and McLiesh doesn't seem to have the tactical nous to play a 4-5-1/4-3-3/4-2-3-1 or the willingness to play square pegs in square holes when he attempts to do this.

Whilst I think McLeish is a pathetic manager , I never really thought, until last night, that we could be relegated. He really has dragged us down there with his inability to manage.

Would a season (or two?) in the Championship be that bad if we got rid of McTool and allowed the youngsters to play? I am not so sure anymore.

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spot on - i too am relatively calm and think a relgation might give villa back their fire, despite this being sad. I wish we hadn't been as harsh on Steve McClaren now last summer! he could have done the same job as McLeish!

Randy needs to think long and hard about what he is doing with villa. for all the anti-doug stuff, he at least took steps to stop villa sinking and did put up significant sums that unfortunately were more than often wasted through no fault of his own (Collymore case in point - we shoudl have been exceptional)

McLeish should do the decent thing and leave though - just as gordon strachan did at middlesbrough last year when he walked away and told gibson to keep his money as he didnt do a good enough job. unfortunately i dont think mcleish has the same principles as gordon strachan.

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Several games ago, when Villa were on 33 points, I said that Villa would finish on 38 points and still finish 15th. In fact, we're on course - Villa have picked up 3 points in the last 5 games, as I said they would.

Villa might finish on 17th, but that's as low as they'll get i.m.o.

But, assuming survival, there's a heck of a lot to address in the summer.

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Quality article.

I was there in 1987 - it feels much the same - a kind of relief. poor decisions were being made at all levels of the club - and it was only going one way - much like now

But then Graham Taylor came in - re organised the club from top to bottom - put Ellis in his place , and yes we had some dodgy seasons - but we were never as poor as a club again.

There is no Graham Taylor this time though. on the plus side that division doesn't look to have much. Mcleish must obviously go - you can't expect to pay out for season tickets to see 4 home wins - even at £300 thats poor value.

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Good post BOF and I agree with all you say. I was predicting relegation a little earlier than quite a few fans. No crystal ball just a gut feeling seeing the way we played and do play. As I said to a few, there is a smell of death around Villa Park.

If we do stay up I will be pleasantly surprised but fearful as that might mean we are stuck with our current manager. After last night and I suspect a similar reaction at the Spurs game from the fans McLeish's position is simply untenable. The question is whether someone who is clearly as stupid and misguided as Randy Lerner actually sees that. If we are relegated it is untenable but even then a tiny bit of me thinks that Lerner could retain him. However the cost of that in terms of physical support would be huge.

Personally I don't blame the players. I think we have a decent squad, it could be better, but more than enough to stay in the PL. I'm sure that McLeish would and does argue that injuries are a factor. I disagree as we were poor before they occurred and are poor now. Todays comments by Warnock sound like the club PR machine telling to say what he did.

MCLeish is a poor tactician, he was outsmarted by Coyle last night as he has been many times this season. He sets up his sides wrongly, he has no ability to adopt Plan B as there is no Plan B or C or D and his substitutions are baffling and ineffective. Added to that his teams lack any cohesion or spirit as typified by the likes of Swansea. Given so many of our players are our own products you would have thought that was a given.

Some argue that the players are not doing what he wants on the pitch and he is screaming from the touchline for them to do XYZ and they are doing ABC. If the players ignore him then he's still a bad manager as he cannot impose his will on him and they clearly don't respect him.

In reality the real villian (but definitely not a villan) is Randy Lerner. However you analyse the events of the past six years the buck stops with him both good and bad. I'm not interested in how he acquired his wealth and as I have never met him I can't comment on him as a person. The simple empirical truth is he has been a poor owner of this club or as he likes to term it 'custodian' Another empirical truth that we all happily overlooked at the outset is that he has a track record in this area. The Cleveland Browns, seemingly, are little short of a laughing stock in the NFL and the fans comments and complaints pretty much mirror ours. They too have a track record of poor managerial appointments just to pick up on one area.

I also have come to despise the deafening silence from both him and Paul Faulkner. I appreciate you cannot run the business that is Aston Villa through the media and nor should they but its just radio silence with the occasional heavily scripted chat with a tame journalist. At no point do I ever get the sense he cares but then again why should he. Elllis flogged the club to a man who knows next to nothing about football and lets not kid ourselves we were not the only name on his shopping and sadly he has achieved nothing beyond wasting his money and giving us some very false hopes and dreams.

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You missed some key facts. Yes he finished 2nd with motherwell but then he made the team his own and dragged them from 2nd into consecutive relegation battles and then he took over at Hibs and got them relegated in his 1st season.

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No-one likes to say I told you so when it comes to the fate of their football club. But I feel that Randy and whoever else questioned the motives of the fans can now see what they were saying all along.
It's galling. I'm not sure they can, though. I wonder if they actually think we still didn't want him purely because he was a 'nose. I don't doubt they know for sure that we didn't and don't want him at our club, but I reckon they still think it's down to his job at sha.

They weren't in receive mode when we explained patiently and politely that he would be a very bad choice for all the reasons much repeated - style of football, history of struggling in the Prem, lack of player development, tactics based around trying to not lose and so on and that his history would make his task much harder - and did so before he was appointed. I think they just heard the bit about "Blues" and thought we didn't know what we were on about, that we don't know, collectively, anything at all about managers. With the odd exception we didn't and don't claim to have all the answers, or to be wiser than anyone else, but we do have a right to be properly listened to rather more than has been the case in the past couple of years.

There's an inkling tonight that they might have cottoned on to the need to pot him, given the statement they've made makes no mention of beyond the next 3 games, and that finally the media have begun to actually think about what's been happening at Villa and write down a few words beyond the (again, simpleton view) "Villa fans don't like him because he worked for small heath".

To me McLeish seems like a decent, likeable man. As a manager, though he's poor, his results are poor, his style of football is joyless and he's not now, nor has he ever been a good match for Aston Villa.

He's doing his best, but he's just not capable of doing well, despite his honest best efforts.

If as seems likely we go down, it won't bother me - It'll cost me no money, the team will still play games in a lower league, and I'll still want them to win every game. But it'll be an abysmal and avoidable waste of a lot of money, goodwill and people's dreams and hopes for their club. ALl because the CLub didn't listen when they really should have.

Not talking is irksome, but tolerable. Not listening is criminal.

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...Elllis flogged the club to a man who knows next to nothing about football and lets not kid ourselves we were not the only name on his shopping and sadly he has achieved nothing beyond wasting his money and giving us some very false hopes and dreams.

That is the saddest aspect of this whole experience ... especially when many fans are also experiencing monetary hardship.

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Good post BOF.You say in your article that we play in a manner that attempts to avoid defeat.That is exactly 100% correct, and I say that because while watching the Premier League highlights show here in OZ, after the Sunderland game 0-0 McLeish stated ( for all to hear ) that we got the result we were after 0-0.So it is painfully obvious that he is not the least bit interested in winning, he is only interested in not losing.Unlike you I am not feeling calm ( not yet anyway ) I am still very very very pissed off that he is bieng allowed to do this to my/our club and get away with it.To my mind bieng allowed to do this to Aston Villa Football Club is like driving a bulldozer through a historical building,A building that has stood in the same place for a 100 years and now Lerner has let an idiot with a bulldozer loose on it.

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My father in law (a spurs fan) said we were safe after we beat Fulham, I just didn't feel as comfortable as he did about our situation and I predicted we would slowly be caught by the teams below us as the end of season as the relegation battlers form picked up while we continued to go for 0-0's, eventually dropping into the bottom three right at the end of the season (either on the last weekend or the penultimate one), it's still been harrowing to see my prediction coming true and I still hope I'm proven wrong, but I don't think it will be through our own results if we do.

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I really wish I didn't agree with every word you say, BOF, but I think you are spot on. I can't see how McLeish has the motivational ability to pick the team up from the woeful lack of clue and fight they showed after we went 1-2 down against Bolton.

One comfort is that I am pretty sure McLeish will go in the summer whatever happens.

I suppose the comfort starts to evaporate when you think Lerner will appoint the successor.

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