A crime against Villanity

Do you feel like a jilted lover? For years of your life, you put your heart and soul into a relationship, and then you start to feel the slow, lingering death of a partner who is losing interest in you.

Five years ago (or so) Randy Lerner promised us the earth. He wooed us with gifts - visits to the rebuilt Bodymoor Heath, coaches to Chelsea etc - and lavished us with the sort of signings we hadn't seen in years - Young, Milner, Downing.

Stage one

He vowed that the Champions League, no less, was his aim and for a while it looked as though he would give his all for us. We climbed the table, Villa Park was full and loud, and it went without saying that the good times were back. We went to Wembley, twice no less. No more thoughts of Baros and O'Dreary, just a resolute determination to close that ten point gap between us and the high life.

The football may not have been made in Catalonia, but it was fast and exciting. Villa feared nobody, but for a while opponents feared us. I will never forget Nemajna Vidic's terror of Gabby every time he faced him. Like many other thousands of you, I renewed my vows year-on-year with my season ticket purchase.

Stage two

But then it all started to grow cold. Lerner's love faded. Yes, he brought us the odd bunch of flowers (Darren Bent, for example) - but that was just the guilty conscience of a partner who knows he is cheating on you. Talk of the Champions League was replaced by talk of wage bills and Deloitte Top Tens. He took our precious jewellery down to the pawn shop and flogged it for what he could get. He repeatedly failed to turn up for important dates. It became ever more increasingly obvious that the love had gone.

Of course he still pretends. But we know that he is pretending. If he truly loved us, would he have really asked us to settle for a manager who relegated our biggest rivals twice and plays a brand of football more suited to Plough Lane than Villa Park? It's like buying your loved one a vaccuum cleaner for Christmas: thanks, Darling.

Stage three

So what do you do as a jilted lover? Do you shout and throw things? Do you get moody and sulk? Do you go and find someone else? All three options have seemed inviting at times.

I know that I'm not loved any more. I just don't know what to do about it, short of phoning The Samaritans.