Aston Villa – A great club on the slide

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Remi Garde has put every Aston Villa fan out of their misery by announcing that he has left the football with immediate effect.  Hawkeye Sidekick looks at the news and worries for the long term future of a great football club.

I have mixed feelings about writing this piece. Yours truly has gone to Villa Park on a number of occasions. The stadium is a superb soccer amphitheater, the fans vantage point is superb. Cracking atmosphere.  The pitch surface is always top notch, a favorite venue and the home fans when I visited were a joy to be around.

I must add that my visits to Villa Park were when Martin O’Neill was at the helm, the team were flirting with Champions League football utilizing the wing play of Ashley Young and James Milner while defensively solid with the likes of Richard Dunne and Shay Given in the ranks.

It is a far far cry from those heady days now. The Aston Villa club from top to the bottom is rotten to the core at this time. The departure of Remi Garde is a start; the French TV pundit was akin to Gary Neville attempting to ply his trade in a country where his football knowledge of the league was limited. A walking and talking disaster.

The news from early in the week was bizarre in the extreme. Garde was let down massively by the club board who after assuring the Frenchman that transfer funds would be made available in the January transfer window did not put one penny into their pocket to try and look interested in staving off relegation. Perhaps, the board realized that the managerial appointment was woefully mistimed, woefully ill-thought and terminally detrimental in the club’s tenure in the top flight. Garde showed plenty of dithering in walking now when he could have done so after the last transfer window and even after the 6-0 humiliation to Liverpool at home when the players flat out gave up.

Whether Tim Sherwood would have done any better is debatable but Sherwood was given precious little time to steady the club this season when given his marching orders. Sherwood came into the club last season when the team were struggling massively to score or keep clean sheets. Sherwood’s up and at them approach to the media endeared him to the fan base short term, results and performances had picked up but after their horror FA Cup final loss to Arsenal, it was downhill from there, a bit like Jack Grealish partying in a holiday resort in the off-season.

The club board have shown no interest in the plight of the club over the last couple of seasons. Their lack of investment in players over recent years has being inadequate to the extreme. The board have passed the buck in portraying to the fans that youth could fill the void left from players such as Young, Milner, Dunne and even Benteke this season when they decided to sign Gestede and Ayew as replacements who have not impressed, would struggle in the Championship truth be told and were never going to get the goals for the team.

The current playing squad must take a fair share of the blame. Every position at the club is woefully short. As Paul Merson said so passionately on Gillette Soccer Saturday immediately after Villa’s embarrassing 6-0 loss at home to Liverpool, what EPL club would buy any Aston Villa player?

This squad realistically right now would struggle to keep a mid-table position in the Championship. The lack of hunger and fight from perceived senior players in the squad has set the tone and the inexperienced squad members have being overwhelmed by the pressure which comes with life at the bottom of a league table. Two managers have come and gone with the same squad, the squad is clearly not good enough and whoever the new management is will have a poison chalice to even clear half the squad off the books.

Aston Villa’s relegation from the top flight will mean that West Bromwich Albion is the only certain Birmingham based team next season. It is a sad day for Birmingham and surrounding areas but the decline of Aston Villa and Birmingham (who are on the up) was caused by a lack of long term planning, questionable board decisions on management and player acquisitions.

Aston Villa will require a couple of seasons to recover from this relegation, the fact that they go down when the bumper TV rights deal comes in next season will hurt the bank balance no end. Villa and Randy Lerner need to part separate ways; the current owner has had a go at securing Champions League football with Martin O’Neill as manager but realizing that this could not be achieved has gradually tampered off investment to a level which has led to this relegation. Aston Villa will rise again but under what guise and how quickly is anyone’s guess. It is a club in leadership and potential financial crisis.