A stay of execution, bottom up, top down and Barry Bannan

We don't really know the full story behind the Barry Bannan incident, but I'm going to assume that he was over the limit and that he was driving. I've come to that because the club know what happened and he has been suspended.

So, if those assumptions seem fair, I'm going to stick my neck on the block and say I think the way the club have publicly handled this is a bit harsh.


Don't get me wrong - what he did, if he did it, is bad and while there are excuses, none of them work and it is simply just as wrong as it can be and I know my view might not be met with widespread approval, but what we need to do now is put an arm around the player and support him as much as we can and bend over backwards to help him - a suspension just feels, not right.

How about, 'we're giving Barry a break from football'. How about, seeing as it feels like he is guilty and there doesn't need to be an internal investigation, we get a statement from the club or Barry himself saying something along the lines of 'there are no excuses for what I've done. I'm ashamed and I know it was wrong, I'm going to talk to someone about it and it will not happen again'?

I know it might seem soft, but Barry Bannan is a 'prized asset' and he is someone that, rightly or wrongly, needs to be looked after and he needs to believe that he is fully supported and is getting looked after. It isn't right - but he has spent the last seven years at the club, he is a millionaire that if we don't look after might just be persuaded that another club will look after him, if we don't.

Money corrupts and it makes you believe everything is possible and more things are - but there are lines and there are ways of dealing with things. Should he be in the dock - yes, but that dock, like family matters, shouldn't be made public and should be kept behind closed doors. And maybe that is happening - I just think the suspension is harsh - because the club already know and it is almost as if he is guilty until proven innocent now.

He may also feel like he is fully supported and maybe he has been told that the 'suspension' is just for show, but suspending him makes it much bigger and maybe he could have been punished, but punished internally. I mean, this has come from the club, not the manager - he wouldn't suspend him.

It just seems like it isn't been done for footballing reasons and I know that isn't right to write, but the football world is very different to the real world and it makes me wonder about who is actually running things?

Sunderland

Now to the match this weekend and I'm only going to touch on the Darren Bent going back thing once, because it is getting over hyped. First things first, he left for a bigger club, secondly, he doesn't need the money and is probably on something very similar to what he was on.

Also, the reception he gets only matters to the fans. He will tune it all out and if anything does get through, it is only going to spur him on that extra percent or two - it can only be good for us.

If you want, I could go further into it, but I don't think you need that. As for the match - is it too early in the season to say this is a must win game?

To Mr McLeish

The post from Nick yesterday got a lot more approval than I thought it would and when I published it, I sat back thinking it was going to be trouble for him, but I was actually very surprised.

I want to write about how people are catching up - because I've held these views about Lerner for a long time - his first season and this manager was never going to succeed at Aston Villa and regular readers will know this - but what can we do?

Randy Lerner owns the club and I can tell you what is going to happen. When the pressure starts to really build up, we will get a new manager and a new start player, to replace those that have left and others that might leave and for a period of a few months, a season or two, everything will be okay. The thing is, unless real change happens, we will just be in this cycle of mediocrity, that again, regular readers will know I've mentioned a few times before.

How do we change though and what is needed? I don't know. I'm a master of what I do - not a jack of all trades, but I have ideas and those ideas start from the ground up. Why have we been so successful at Academy and Reserve level and not the first team? What are we doing differently - the answers are obvious but change isn't easy.

It is a cultural thing and it comes from the top down and the bottom up - how it changes and how things are adopted are pretty much trial and error but Randy Lerner has had long enough, two or three times over and I'm not seeing it really happening.

I'm seeing lots of PR, less of the General (people have figured him out now) but little real change and not really that much of a difference from when we had Doug Ellis and Doug knew what to do to keep the natives happy.

My point is - take away the huge amount of debt the club is now in and what has changed? Very little is the answer and changes need to happen to move forward and those changes, while strategically managed from the top, need to be driven from the bottom.

But to the manager and is he under pressure? The simple answer is yes, but this was always going to happen as it was a decision made out of protest. The person that made or recommended this course of action was taking a massive gamble to prove that he or she knew better and they were always going to lose.

You can not appoint a twice relegated manager to any club and hope things are going to change. Throw into the mix where he came from and it is a recipe for disaster. Does he have to beat Sunderland - yes, but that isn't going to save him, it is only a stay of execution. But, would I love to be wrong.

Top down, bottom up

I'm ending on this and on what I started on, because these are what really matter. The club have to instigate real change and not just make it another fad, but it should be driven by us.

Randy Lerner can do it, but not by himself and seeing as he owns the club 100%, we have to put our faith in him, because like it or not, unless a wealthy oil baron comes along, we have him, so I say embrace Lerner and all that he stands for, but hope that the club do something soon, because the way it is going, is basically the way many of us predicted it was going when they appointed this manager.

Lastly, to the Bannan thing again and I just want to reiterate my point - what he did (if he did it) was bad and they should take away his license and fine him 6 months salary, but he is a prized asset for this football club and we play football - he should be allowed to play, after a break away to get his head straight, but we also need to support him or something like this could trigger him wanting to leave - it could, we don't know.

I just think it better we deal with these things in-house rather than telling the world that he is suspended, as it suggests guilt and if he is guilty, he'll be punished for that in other ways.

Apologies for the length of this post. I don't often deliver this length very often, but opinions are opinions and I just couldn't stop.