Fan's eye view: Boring, drab, playing for a draw. Alex McLeish had no defence at Aston Villa
Had McLeish given us a style that was at least a little easy on the eye, he could have survived
Tuesday 15 May 2012
One of the less offensive jokes about our manager at Villa Park this season asked: What will Alex McLeish do when the fans, press and players turn against him? Play for a draw.
Granted, it wasn't the funniest joke either, but what made it stand out was its depressing realism – Villa fans do depressing well, if not always realism, as the names being bandied around to replace McLeish show. This was a manager who brought on Nathan Baker, a defender, to replace Stephen Warnock, a defender playing in midfield, at Norwich on Sunday to protect a 2-0 deficit. We never liked McLeish, but we liked even less the style of play he forced upon us, and that's largely the point.
While it is true that any former Birmingham City manager's honeymoon period would end the moment he walked out of Randy Lerner's office with a three-year contract (three years!), it is unfair to say McLeish was never given a chance – we did not want him but in the main we respected the board's appointment and did not protest. Why undermine the team when the manager can do it perfectly well himself?
We don't expect Barcelona's football, nor even Swansea's, but had McLeish given us a style that was at least a little easy on the eye he could have survived. We have just been muddling through.
The players, too, have looked out of sorts all season. In McLeish's defence, he has had to slash a sky-high wage bill, but there is no excuse for Gabby Agbonlahor not having scored in the league since Bonfire Night, or Marc Albrighton going backwards since his fireworks of the previous season.
This is a manager whose Birmingham City team's results nosedived after winning the Carling Cup, all the way to relegation – that can only be bad management. And we employed him, presumably because we wouldn't have to pay relocation expenses.
So where do Lerner and Paul Faulkner, the chief executive, turn next? Lerner has credit in the bank: he has spent, and if he wants to rein it in that's his prerogative. Faulkner, a driver of the McLeish deal, has less. Last year's manager chase was an embarrassment as Tom, Dick, Harry, Roberto Martinez and more turned us down. The Wigan manager is in the frame again, but we are not the "big European club" Dave Whelan talks about his protégé going to. Some fans want Brendan Rodgers but he is on to a good thing at Swansea, and the idea that David Moyes will swap one fading old institution for another is silly.
We'd take Paul Lambert, though – a motivator and organiser, shades of Martin O'Neill. Surely he was romanced by our fans serenading him under his Carrow Road window on Sunday?
A name cited by one of our less realistic fans on the forums: our much-loved former defender Martin Laursen, now manager of BK Sollerod Vedbaek in the Danish Second Division East. It's about the standard Villa would have been, had McLeish seen out that three-year contract. Depressingly.
Liam Neeson's Downton dreams
Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage
Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour
Latest in Sport
Everton vs Wolfsburg match report: Tim Howard hands Everton clear advantage
Think before you ink: Manchester United fan gets Sir Alex Ferguson tattoo - and will regret it for the rest of his life
Paul Scholes column: Rio Ferdinand and John Terry row was bad but they could have kept playing for England
Colombian women's cycling team kit that makes wearer appear naked is branded 'unacceptable' by UCI president
Bayern Munich vs Manchester City report: Jerome Boateng thrashes home winner against former team
- 1 Scottish independence: Learn from Quebec's mistakes and beware of promises. Vote Yes.
- 2 iOS 8 is full of shiny new features - but it's terrible news for app developers
- 3 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 4 Hitler’s former food taster reveals the horrors of the Wolf’s Lair
- 5 Cocaine and cannabis haul hidden in Vatican car seized by French police
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Scottish independence: The Queen breaks silence on referendum debate – as think tank warns of £14bn black hole if Scotland votes Yes
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'