They want their Villa back, but what defines Aston Villa-ness?

Not the man affectionately known as the dirty Bluenose b******


Alex McLeish was predictably lampooned as Aston Villa endured their fifth 0-0 draw with a bottom-half rival this season away to bottom club Wigan.

And along with the bland, worn-out cries of “you don’t know what you’re doing” came a chorus that similarly unpopular predecessor Gerard Houllier was once treated to: “we want our Villa back”.

It raises the question, what exactly is their Villa? Whereas fellow mid-table constants of the last decade like Bolton and Fulham have on the whole followed one trajectory over that period, there hasn’t been a clearly defined identity at Villa Park.

Fans evidently can’t be condemning a lack of academy products lending their club a local charm as that is one area in which McLeish has delivered, primarily because he has been handed barely any money with which to recruit experienced players.

So is it the policy of paying twice the market value for the likes of Curtis Davies and Nigel Reo-Coker that they pine for? Attractive football has hardly been a claret-and-blue staple in recent years and the one manager who made it a priority, Monsieur Houllier, was ridiculed, so it can’t be that.

And a popular coach in the dugout can’t really be the missing ingredient given that Martin O’Neill has arguably been the only one that they have felt inspired to get behind in the last decade.

Even he was never quite universally loved, a legacy of his weakened selections in Europe, the late collapses that derailed heroic Champions League pushes that weren’t perhaps fully appreciated at the time, some questionable signings and the disappointing manner of his departure.

However, maybe discontent with McLeish has scaled such heights that O’Neill is longed for again, though their bore draw at the DW Stadium coincided with his new Sunderland side falling 4-0 to a West Brom team with an identical home points haul to Wigan.

McLeish wasn’t an exciting appointment, and if my team hired him, I wouldn’t be ecstatic, but he isn’t the main reason that they are 15th –with the same tally as at this stage last term despite a positive net spend – and doesn’t deserve the abuse.

If the disillusion regards what he is doing at Villa in the first place, surely that’s one to take out on the owners? And incidentally, if the party line is that it’s McLeish ability rather than his Birmingham links creating the unrest, then it may be an idea to knock the “Bluenose b******” song on the head.

Will things deteriorate further? Villa are eight points from safety and 21/1 to be relegated. Click here to claim a £25 free bet when opening a Betfair account.

3 responses so far
  • Emjm // February 27, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    What a petty article. Maybe you should look back a few seasons and remember the counter-attacking Villa side that were one of the most lethal teams in the country. We know that times are bad at the moment and we realise that we aren’t going to be challenging for anything noteworthy, but McLeish is not helping in the slightest. His dull, negative play doesn’t suit the players that we do have. Albrighton, N’Zogbia (rubbish), Ireland, Gabby, Bent are all attacking players yet his tactics don’t seem to be making the most of their potential.

    Also, his transfer market handling has been abysmal, Keane was good for us and Jenas was unfortunate but N’Zog has been so mediocre and Hutton has been terrible. You can’t congratulate him on using our youth, Houllier had been using the youth players as had Martin O’Judas before him. He’s brought nothing to the team and all he is there for is a scapegoat while Lerner makes as much money as he thinks he can. Even still as a scapegoat, he’s bloody useless.

  • Whiteboard // February 27, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    Ta for the comment, some fair points.

    But if he is recognised as just a scapegoat, why are more Villa fans gunning for him (vocally at least) than Lerner and co?

  • randy baton // February 29, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    Because if Learner leaves we are in the sh!t we owe his company so much money it would bankrupt us. He has invested a lot of his own money but a lot of it has also been in the form of loans.

    The real issue we have is the overspend from MON’s period in charge, yes we got places but the squad he actually used was small, he left many players doing nothing on high salaries and although most of them have been shipped out we’ve seen very little from there transfers and are massively in debt.

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