Fan's Eye View: The good, bad and the deadly of Ellis' regime

He's a strong leader who has made mincemeat of his enemies
Click to follow
The Independent Football

So, it's finally happening. One of the world's longest-running reigns appears to be coming to an end, an indomitable leader's grip on his land finally seems to be drawing to a close. And while Cuba holds its breath, in a long-forgotten part of the Midlands another smaller-scale, all-powerful supremo is also on the way out.

Few would doubt that Fidel Castro has achieved more in his 47-year rule than Doug Ellis in his, it seems, 470 at my beloved Villa Park - while Castro has created a health service that reputedly puts Britain's to shame, Doug leaves a club in need of major surgery.

For every accountant who has worshipped at the temple of Doug's tight-fistedness, there's a former Villa manager who felt the need to fall on his sword. Why are we Villa fans so happy at regime change? Because any change must be an improvement, especially one that involves Martin O'Neill.

What we were afraid of was that Ellis would not sell up, especially after the coup of employing O'Neill, but instead attempt to keep the club in the family. One Holte End rumour was that "Deadly" Doug wanted to bequeath it to the even deadlier Ruth Ellis, or worse still, to Janet off Blue Peter.

Fortunately that's not happened. Instead we get the filthy rich Randy (make up your own jokes) Lerner.

But it's not been all bad under Doug. Charges against him include that he's not fit to run a modern football club, but that's not entirely true. They say he won't put his hand in his pockets, and that the £9.5m for Juan Pablo Angel and £5.8m for Bosko Balaban was television money. Good. If he'd used his own cash for those purchases, I would seriously doubt his ability.

I've also never doubted his intentions, his drive to make Villa great again spurred by having left the club when Villa won the European Cup in 1982, to return shortly afterwards. I wasn't old enough to appreciate that triumph truly, but it's a trump card in most "my club's better than yours" arguments. Doug has never felt comfortable using it, though.

Also, he's a strong leader. Doug has made mincemeat of his enemies. Ask David O'Leary. Or, go visit the executives who wanted to "modernise" the club. Remember Bruce Langham, the former chief executive? Working conditions were "unbearable". Or Mark Ansell, who "left by mutual consent"? Apparently O'Leary's still livid, Langham's furious and Ansell's plain angry. Actually, now Doug's leaving, Ansell's mild, of which I'm off to enjoy a pint right now, along with one of Fidel's biggest, most flavoursome cigars. Long live the revolution!

Comments