The club have just confirmed that Martin O'Neill has resigned as manager of Aston Villa with immediate effect.
Cards on the table; this is a surprise but at the same time, not really, but I don't know why.
Paul Faulkner, CEO of Aston Villa
The club would like to thank Martin for the great work he has done at Aston Villa over the past four years. He has helped to establish the club in the upper echelons of the Premier League, has taken us to Wembley and we have also qualified for European competition for the past three seasons under his management. We wish him the best in the future.
I have enjoyed my time at Aston Villa immensely. It's obviously a wrench to be leaving such a magnificent club. I would like to pay tribute to the Villa players, my coaching staff and the Villa supporters for all the support and encouragement they have given both the club and me personally during my time as manager. I wish them all the best for the future. I will obviously be assisting the club in the immediate short-term with regard to the handover of my duties.
Kevin MacDonald will takeover as caretaker manager and be responsible for preparing the team for the start of the Premier League - kicking off this week.
Let the speculation begin
It rarely is as straightforward as we are led to believe. Just before the summer break we were told that the owner and manager still had a special relationship, but it turns out that the speculation back then was probably true.
The recent speculation focuses on Lerner wanting any of the profits that came in from a sale of James Milner and while some wont want to believe it is true - what Lerner does next is going to be very important.
One thing is for sure - if it turns out he has someone lined up - hard to believe it O'Neill has left and MacDonald is named caretaker, then it could be that Lerner is ahead of the curve.
As for the speculation - we can't stop it, but if I were you, I might start listening to Bob.
The timing of this isn't great but some, I admit not all and the minority, did think O'Neill had taken us as far as he could. It isn't a happy day, but instead of thinking the worst - lets look to the positives.
Change isn't always bad and more often than not can be good. The new manager might not get us sixth, but he might bring stuff to the club that helps us do better in the long run. It isn't about next season - after all, O'Neill got us nothing the one just gone and nothing the one before that and the one before that.
It is about the bigger picture.
Who knows; with new manager syndrome, the new manager might even do better than sixth, but we shouldn't judge too quickly and we should just hope that he is the right man for the long term future of Aston Villa.
Randy Lerner - we will soon see your true colours and I hope I am wrong.