5 things Aston Villa must do to recover
Published 15/02/2016 | 11:46
Aston Villa are staring at relegation to the Sky Bet Championship following a 6-0 thumping by Liverpool on Sunday, their worst home defeat since 1935.
They are bottom of the Barclays Premier League, eight points from safety, and Press Association Sport looks at five things the club must do to recover.
1. Randy Lerner must sell
The owner has been in charge since buying the club for £62.6million in 2006 and has overseen the dramatic downturn since three consecutive sixth-placed finishes between 2008 and 2010. His decision to curb spending when Paul Lambert took charge in 2012 started the fight against relegation and the situation has got worse despite a U-turn and heavy investment last summer. There was interest in the club last year but the American, who rarely attends games, must drop the asking price to reflect their position as a soon-to-be Championship club.
2. Another summer revamp
Joleon Lescott's apology about Villa's lack of commitment in defeat - coupled with his bizarre reason for tweeting a picture of car an hour after Sunday's loss - shows the current state of the squad. Villa spent around £50million buying 13 new players last summer but their recruitment has failed. Charles N'Zogbia turned down a move to AEK Athens to see out his expensive contract at Villa until June while the club have handed five-year contracts to several players, including Leandro Bacuna and Ciaran Clark, who have failed to justify them.
3. Keep Remi Garde
The Frenchman replaced Tim Sherwood in November with the club already bottom and, although results have not improved, Garde has demonstrated poise and dignity. He retains the support of the fans who realise he was given nothing to spend in January. Garde is perhaps the right man at the wrong time but he deserves a chance to rebuild Villa - if he wants to, having admitted he will assess his future in the summer.
4. An internal restructure
It would be unfair for Garde to carry the can for the potential relegation with Villa already in trouble before he arrived and those at the top must take the blame. Chief executive Tom Fox will be under pressure following relegation while director of scouting and recruitment Paddy Riley and sporting director Hendrik Almstadt have come under the spotlight for their roles during the club's disastrous season. Fox is Lerner's right-hand man and it would be hard to see him leaving, but heads will have to roll if relegation is confirmed.
5. Win back the fans
A culmination of factors and people - Lerner, Lambert, Sherwood, Fox, Riley and Almstadt - have seen the fans lose faith. A famous club is on its knees and stands to lose its ever-present status in the Barclays Premier League. Thousands left the stadium after Liverpool's third and fourth goals on Sunday and there is no trust in the current regime. There is a deep anger at those in power at the club and it needs to be put right.