A wake up call, not the new Doug Ellis and we shouldn't be surprised

A little warning today; this might turn into a long post and rather than an opinion on what happened last night, it's going to be more of a story. You see, we've come full circle now, from when I started blogging about Aston Villa to today.

I started blogging about Aston Villa when I was living in Cape Town many years ago. It started on my personal blog and when that started to get quite a bit of traffic, I bought my first domain name, astonvilla.biz and continued there.


The reason I started blogging was that I had time and a view that I wanted others to hear. I didn't for a moment think that I'd still be here ten years later. But I started blogging back then because of Graham Taylor, Mark Ansell and Doug Ellis and one of the first things I did was start a petition to get them all removed.

Online petitions wont have the same effect today as they did back then, but Ansell and Taylor were forced out and we all know what happened to Doug a few years later. But when things started to get serious about Doug and Villa Fans Combined got involved, I had to stand back.

Back then, I learnt that Doug was actively trying to sell the club and trying to find investors. The protests were not pointless, it raised awareness and it galvanised supporters, to an extent, but what they were trying to achieve was already happening. It turned out that Doug was trying to do the right thing for Aston Villa, before the protests began.

But that was back then. We should fast forward to last night and last night I felt exactly like I did when we lost to The Clowns in the 2002/03 season that ultimately started the blog and the petition.

We shouldn't be surprised

The reason why it feels like full circle is because none of us should be surprised about the result. I even had £100 on Millwall to win last night at 6/4 I was that confident we'd bottle it. I don't apologise for that, the price was just too good.

But this has been coming for a long time and I wrote about it last season, the season before that and even the very season Randy Lerner took over. Back then I got a lot of stick for questioning him and trying to point out that this was coming, but I think it is quite fair to say today that many now see what I was writing about.

Lerner was never here for Aston Villa, only what he could get out of it. Back then, when the PR machine was in full swing, people were buying into his love of the club, his tattoo, the five year plan, the new North Stand and the 'world class' players.

I'm sure many remember General Krulak. I could predict what his comments were going to say and I'm proud that we stood firm and never had him on this site.

I don't know if everyone knows this; but it wasn't even him posting on many occasions. It was just PR and so many lapped it up. And I will apologise for that, it was a swipe, but you should have listened because I didn't just write about it once or twice, I wrote about it regularly.

The wake up call

But for the very reason Randy Lerner is here, I also believe that last night would have alerted him to the very real possibility that if he doesn't do something, we could be relegated. However, I'm not sure that there is anyone at the club stressing this.

I'm fairly sure that Lerner is a smart enough man to see what relegation would mean to Aston Villa financially, but I'm not certain that there is anyone telling him that if we do go, we might not come back, even with a manager who has experience of the Championship.

And this isn't me saying that Lambert will get sacked. Sacking someone isn't easy and Lambert and Lerner have a relationship that will make it more difficult, even if Lambert probably wouldn't mind so much after he gets his contract paid off. But I guess this and what I've told you above does confirm one thing; Randy Lerner isn't actually the new Doug Ellis.

The truth is, even though I wrote that the manager should be sacked earlier this week, that if he isn't and if Lerner has identified him as the long term man for Aston Villa, then he has to support him financially. This is the Premier League, not a plaster - you can't do it too quickly in this game.

What I mean is what we've done this season should have been done over two or maybe even three and what Lerner has to do now is provide the funds so Lambert can get the quality in, until the end of the season, to help us stay up. Sadly, that is going to cost money and probably quite a lot of money, but put that in a column against the amount we could lose if we are relegated and it factor in the risks of spending it or not spending it and it will be a no brainer.

Lerner is here for the money. If he doesn't spend it there is a very real chance we will be relegated and if that happens, he stands the very real chance of losing an awful lot of cash and yes, I know that he didn't make any of this money himself, but you've got to assume that the very expensive education he received did teach him something.

What I'm trying to say is, is that I believe we will strengthen. And because Paul Lambert is, as I write this anyway, our manager, I have to believe that he knows who he needs to bring in. But just in case he is reading this; we need one or two defenders and one or two midfielders and when supporters look at them, in the full knowledge that they are only here until the end of the season, possibly for a final big pay day, we have to instinctively know that they are capable of doing the job. They quite literally have to be as close to 'world class' as 'world class' can be in your 30's.

No more yes man, man

So, to my post the other day about sacking Lambert and I stand by it. After the Bradford result, he should have been sacked, because that isn't good enough for Aston Villa and it just proved he was out of his depth.

But he wasn't sacked. He wasn't sacked after last night either and as I write this he is still in a job, so we have to accept that he might very well be here until the end of the season. And if he is, we have to support him, even if he is out of his depth.

You see, you either sink or swim when out of your depth and I think Lambert might be the type of person that will learn how to swim, but he needs his owner to throw him some help.

Without that help, it might take him longer and the club wont vanish, but relegation is an unthinkable option for Aston Villa and that is the part of this whole mess that I don't think Lerner is getting. You see, his yes man Paul Faulkner, appointed Alex McLeish and that should never have been allowed to happen, but I don't think he knows that and that is what makes me think he doesn't understand the importance of staying in this league and not just for the money.

But this isn't about Faulkner, even though it really should be, but we have to accept that he is the nodding dog that wags his tail. This is about Lambert and he has to call Lerner this morning and demand this money, not just accept what he has or hasn't. He has to stress the importance and if all else fails, he has to do what he has to do. For himself, more than anything.

Window open for a few more days

And you can call this next bit 'blind optimism' but until the window closes and nothing has changed, I'm going to believe it will. I'm going to believe that last night was a wake up call for Lerner. I'm going to believe that Lambert grew some last night and woke up this morning knowing his path.

I'm going to believe that Lerner will sanction the spending of £10mn between now and the end of the season on wages and if he does, I feel confident that we will stay up. And I really do believe that is what we have to spend to assure our survival. I also want to believe that there is a plan B and people have been working on it for a few weeks and we're ready to move.

I'm also going to apologise for the long post and if you've got this far I thank you, but I needed to get this all off my chest. If we are relegated we'll not vanish, as I wrote above, but these days it's harder to come back up and I fear that relegation could just be the beginning of the end for us and when I wrote last season that we were going to become the next mid table side with no aspirations other than staying in the league, if relegation, I fear we could become the next Nottingham Forest, Sheffield club or dare I even say it, Wolves.

If I lost the flow in this post, I apologise. If you're reading this, I thank you. My point is, there are a few days left and I think Lerner will do something, mostly for the reasons why he is here - money. I will be back in a couple of hours and I'll respond to comments.