Aston Villa chief executive Paul Faulkner laments 'worst year in a generation'

 

Aston Villa's season verged on the disastrous, according to chief executive Paul Faulkner.

Manager Alex McLeish was sacked yesterday after Villa finished 16th, just two points above the Barclays Premier League relegation zone.

It was the club's worst league finish in six years and their lowest points total in 42 years.

"I suppose a disaster would have been getting relegated but this was too close for comfort," Faulkner told BBC Radio Five Live.

McLeish lasted just one season, and was up against it from the start having previously worked for Villa's bitter rivals Birmingham - who he took down last year.

But Faulkner felt it was performances on the pitch which meant McLeish never won over his critics.

"It is all connected to results, it all goes hand in hand," he added.

"I think the fans' feelings were because of our results, which were not good enough.

"Like all fans of any club they were going to make their feelings known.

"This is the worst year that Villa has had in a generation. There are a whole group of fans who have never known it this bad for Villa so I am not surprised (by their reaction) at all."

Norwich manager Paul Lambert has been linked with the vacancy, as has Wigan boss Roberto Martinez while former Wolves manager Mick McCarthy has emerged as the favourite with some bookmakers.

Faulkner accepts Villa got it wrong in appointing McLeish as Gerard Houllier's successor after the Frenchman left the club on health grounds last summer.

"It's using hindsight. We've had to make the change with Alex now and you're constantly evaluating yourselves," Faulkner added.

"The season didn't go the way we would have wanted and we have to look for reasons why that may be.

"If we were happy with mediocrity or a season like this, then we wouldn't be making changes."

Faulkner defended the club's recruitment methods as they go in search of their fourth manager in less than two years, after Martin O'Neill left in August 2010 having guided Villa to a top-six place three seasons running.

"It's a slightly unfair statistic because, in those two years, one manager resigned and one had significant health problems and this season didn't go as we had planned but the key for us is moving forward," he said.

"The key is making the right decision this time and finding a good manager that is going to reinvigorate Aston Villa.

"We look to the future and we desperately want some stability here.

"We want someone here for a long period of time to build their team, their squad to knit into our club and that's what we're searching for."

PA

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