We have six games left until we are half way through the season and they all come between now and the end of the year. December is going to be a big month for Aston Villa, Paul Faulkner and Alex McLeish.
We have more points to play for in December than we currently have and based on what the manager has achieved to date, you could easily assume we would get another eight points, but then that would be just blind optimism. Look at the fixtures below and guess again.
If my name was Alex McLeish, I'd be quite worried and if I wasn't in such a don't care mood, I'd use the phrase dead man walking again today.
- Saturday, 3 December - Aston Villa v Manchester United
- Saturday, 10 December - Bolton v Aston Villa
- Sunday, 18 December - Aston Villa v Liverpool
- Wednesday, 21 December - Aston Villa v Arsenal
- Monday, 26 December - Stoke v Aston Villa
- Saturday, 31 December - Chelsea v Aston Villa
Those fixtures are not inspiring me with confidence, but our players will surprise. Our players might very well scrape a draw or two out of those matches and we might even get a result or two. But the kick in the teeth is, we should have done so much better out of the first thirteen games and we all knew that the first thirteen were the important ones ... months ago.
If we don't get a decent return from the above matches, we could find ourselves in a fairly horrible place come the turn of the year and then, we really could be in a horrible place for the rest of the season with little or no time to act on two fronts and things could get quite messy.
At the end of the day, we need three points against Bolton and Stoke - both away and we haven't won away all season. This period is crucial for confidence and this is when teams can slide and never recover. Alex McLeish has a habit of doing it too.
Actions speak louder than words
So, December is a tough month and whatever way you want to look at it, tough decisions have to be made.
I've never spoken to Paul Faulkner, but the impression I have, is he has a plan. I also get the feeling he was the driving force behind the appointment of McLeish, but that is just a hunch, so don't take it as gospel.
One thing I do know is you don't get to where he is if you're a fool. You can get to where he is and make foolish decisions, because sometimes those foolish decisions turn out to be moments of genius and clarity, but you only get to make a few mistakes at this level and one or two foolish decisions.
One of the worst things that can happen to someone in this position is when one of those foolish decisions turn out to not be a moment of clarity or genius and pans out exactly how others, many, thought it would. More so when everything, apart from gut feeling, pointed to it not working and thousands were trying to shout it from the rooftops.
So, lets for a moment assume he isn't a fool and look at what he has on his desk right now and I'll tell you something for nothing, it isn't a nice time to be the CEO of Aston Villa - especially if you forced through the appointment of this manager. Just look at all the interviews he is doing - he is fighting fires and looking like the new General PR, although we might have to call him PR CEO instead.
Moving on. The CEO of a football club has to make difficult decisions at times and I imagine one of the hardest is coming to the conclusion that the manager has to go and right now, that decision is on his desk. If anyone thinks otherwise - just read his comments from last week. Good PR - drum up belief. Thing is, the target is set now, but nobody believes it.
McLeish got the public backing from the Chairman last week - it was just spoken by the CEO. Faulkner has also held discussions on the future of this manager and in those discussions, he would have arrived at two conclusions.
First, they can bite the bullet and get rid of McLeish now. In the short term this could also be good - new manager syndrome and cards on the table - when you look at the fixture list, what is the harm.
His gut is probably telling him this is what he has to do too, especially when he looks at the month ahead and then he comes to a secondary conclusion, that when you accept a decision you have made is wrong, it is far better to act quickly and decisively, than let it fester.
The upside of acting now and this would have been discussed also, is that they have someone at the club they can trust to manage team affairs, just waiting to give it another go.
They should also have a list of managers that are available or approachable - a target list. This is just something they should have figured out after the last one was rushed to hospital. Nothing to do with real ambition or anything. So if it didn't work out with the temporary man - they have a backup plan.
The hope with this conclusion is that McDonald would have picked up a little experience from last season and it might save them a lot of money as he knows all of the players coming through and is well respected.
The other conclusion they probably came to was this; they fully support him, regardless of results in December and back him through to the end of season.
This is the depressing conclusion. It is depressing because most know it isn't going to get better. Sure, the players might like him (they've got it easy now), but the football is dire - it was at Rangers and was at The Clowns. It isn't going to develop with him.
It is also depressing, because Faulkner and Lerner are not fools. They will know this. But they will also know that we are not going to get relegated. They will know this because the gap to 17th is five points, but already two more to 18th - the relegation zone. That gap is also going to get bigger.
Banners and supporters
If you are not following my reasoning - go to the BBC predictor page and predict the results for the next six matches. Even your most optimistic results will still see us in the bottom half - mostly because teams around us don't have such a tough run in and will be picking up points.
If the truth is that Randy has no ambition for the club other than to get what he can out of it, Faulkner will know this and McLeish will stay. If that is true then all the banners that will go up and all those not attending isn't going to matter one little bit.
Things point to that too, I just don't want to believe it, even though I've always thought Lerner was just here for what he could get out of it. I actually want to believe that Randy Lerner is just like Doug Ellis because Doug would have figured it out by now.
One thing really is for sure though and that is supporters are staying away and the football is poor. If Lerner really wants success or organic growth for this football club then the sooner he understands that we can go nowhere with this manager, the better.