Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughBoring Villa, what has gone wrong? - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Boring Villa, what has gone wrong? - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Boring Villa, what has gone wrong?

When clubs are struggling, rarely is it a wise or educated attitude to lay all the blame on the manager, but they do deserve their fair share of the criticism.

Aston Villa’s recent angst is no exception to this rule. Decisions taken off the field have left the midlands club in a bit of a pickle – and these problems seem all the more troublesome now their hitman Darren Bent has been ruled out for the remainder of the season.

Owner Randy Lerner began life at Villa with a bounce, when Villa were springboarded to challenging for 4th spot and a Champions League place with Martin O’Neill at the helm.

Since the Northern Irishman’s untimely resignation, the board have got it all wrong, and Villa have been gradually descending into the realms of desolation – an unwanted throwback to the uninspiring and precarious years of David O’Leary.

Fans keep waiting for the resurgence – the proof that the Villa will pick up points and leap out of reach of the drop-zone with assurance.

This moment hasn’t come so far, and it doesn’t look to be a comfortable end to the season for the Holte End faithful.

The appointment of Alex McLeish wasn’t popular from the beginning, understandable since he had only travelled across Birmingham from the Blues. But more importantly, he was a relegated manager who had not done enough tactically – nor in the transfer market – to keep Birmingham in the Premier League.

Quite why this prompted the Villa board to tap him up left many people bemused.

This year he has left many fans incredulous with some of his decisions. Early on he left young Marc Albrighton out of the side despite him being one of Villa’s more dangerous players, and he has played Heskey on the wing on many occasions. His tactics are negative, and his team talks evidently don’t instil any belief in the players.

Villa have consistently looked a nervous team, especially at home. They simply don’t look like they’re enjoying their football.

They have drawn 11 games this season, attaining 29 points so far, meaning they have picked up just enough to lie 8 points clear of relegation in 15th place.

There are some troubled teams at the foot of the table, so perhaps they only have a slim chance of getting dragged into the bog.

But in the eyes of the fans that is still not good enough. While supporters understand that Champions League is an unrealistic short-term ambition, challenging for the Europa League certainly isn’t. For a club the size of Aston Villa, they should be comfortably in the top half of the table.

Darren Bent’s injury is horrific news to Villa because with the return of Robbie Keane to the MLS they simply don’t have enough strikers.

Arguably, Bent’s goals last season after signing from Sunderland in January pulled Villa clear of danger. Few would predict Emile Heskey and Gaby Agbonlahor achieving the same return. Nathan Delfouneso has been a promising young player but has recently been loaned out to Leicester City. You can’t help but feel that if he doesn’t get a chance now, he never will.

Much has also been said about the Austrian striker Andreas Weimann, who was on loan at Watford last year. He is rumoured to be quite a talent, and will surely get his chance to shine in the coming weeks.

But this is hardly the time to be trying out new talent. If the current form continues (1 league win this year) then Villa will undoubtedly find themselves dropping further down the table. The men at the top should never have let Villa get into this position in the first place, and now find themselves without a solution as their 2 main frontmen are no longer available.

For all the positives (and goals) that Keane brought to the side in his brief stint, Villa fans feel that if McLeish was limited to looking for loan deals, he should have found a proven striker to stay for the remainder of the season.

Alternatively, in an ideal world, supporters would like to see money spent. The money raised by the sales of Stewart Downing and Ashley Young has not been reinvested in any players apart from £10m man Charles N’Zogbia – another player that McLeish inexplicably refused to field at the start of the season.

The Frenchman has since stated that he is no longer happy playing his football at Aston Villa, and with McLeish in charge that is hardly a surprise.

What Aston Villa need is a manager who will give them belief and inspiration, somebody who has achieved success and is confident in his own skin. The last time McLeish was seen with a smile on his face was last year’s Carling Cup Final victory over Arsenal. Since then, he has looked like a broken man and the stress of management is clearly evident.

He is getting jeered by his own fans – which is no fun for any manager, and it is taking its toll.

This seems to have been passed down to his players, who rarely seem able to express themselves and enjoy their football.

They look restrained by rigid tactics and the pressure they are under from the fans and the media. Unfortunately, McLeish seems incapable of deflecting this pressure. Nor is he providing satisfactory answers to the fans questions.

Villa are lacking a clear direction with McLeish seemingly content to plug away with the same ideology -hoping they secure enough draws in order to attain just enough points to stay up.

Randy Lerner seemed to have ushered in a new dawn when he took over in 2006, but 6 years on Aston Villa are the epitome of mediocrity, and are dangerously close to slipping further if their current form continues.

There needs to be a change, and soon. Bent’s injury has created a huge problem for Villa. Perhaps a young striker will step up to the mark in these next few months and make me wonder what I was worried about? It remains to be seen. One things for sure; being a Welshman, all I can think at the present is ‘McLeish for England!’.

Matthew Goolding

For more Football Blogs and opinion from football fans around the world