Saturday 10 December 2016

Off The Ball: Relegation could be the making of Villa

Ger Gilroy

Published 02/12/2015 | 02:30

New manager Remi Garde has endured a difficult start to his tenure at Aston Villa
New manager Remi Garde has endured a difficult start to his tenure at Aston Villa

Aston Villa are doomed, at least according to the history books. No team has been so abject for so long at the beginning of a season and reached safety-they're statistically as bad as Mick McCarthy's Sunderland were and there's no sign of an imminent improvement.

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The traditional new manager bounce lasted just one game and garnered a single point. Since then Remi Garde's best players have been partying and scoring own goals. The situation looks hopeless.

It's been several seasons of relegation Russian Roulette at Villa Park and this year it appears the chamber is full.

I'm slowly, as a Villa fan, coming around to the idea that relegation might be no bad thing. What if pressing the reset button is precisely what the club needs? I'm not talking about the patronising view that "a season in the Championship might actually be a good thing" argument - I'm talking about a revolution in how the club is run and more importantly, why.

Of course Randy Lerner is entirely to blame: the owner has had a scattergun approach to managers; he is clueless about football, parsimonious when he needed to spend and flush with cash when there were only bangers to be had.

Maybe relegation and a massive devaluation is precisely what he needs to finally sell the club.

It's true that there's no template for a relegated club to suddenly become the model of a well-run, properly focused business.

Most of the teams who have managed to get the bones of the organisation right had to do it through a couple of divisions, like Swansea or Southampton. Perhaps Villa's tailspin will eventually take them to League 1, anything looks possible right now.

Ironically last summer's spending seemed like it was coherent and well thought out, the problem then, though, was it wasn't the manager driving it. Sherwood lost confidence in signings he didn't make and the players lost confidence in him.

Garde arrives at a chaotic situation - a bunch of high-earning veterans, some academy players and then some heavily recruited talent from around the world chasing fame and fortune in the Premier League.

It's a frighteningly difficult job he faces, and Villa fans need to be prepared for him to fail.

It may take a couple of years of heartbreak but scroll forward to Villa coming up the divisions playing football that's worth watching, that prizes attack as a strategy, that lives in dreams instead of fears. That's not so bad.

Irish Independent

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