The Pursuit of Mediocrity

The Aston Villa we all love, now stand only a few weeks away from a winter schedule which would make Real Madrid think twice. During the December and January months, our players face a daunting schedule of near back-to-back games against top Premier League sides, with no evidence that we have the skill, the tactical ingenuity, the management or the players to get more than a fistful of points.

There is a very real danger that we will be sitting in the relegation positions as we look towards Easter, and I don't like that any more than you do. I've taken the fixtures apart, and my most ambitious assessment sees us taking 15 points from a possible 36. It's unlikely to happen, because it relies on our ability to beat sides like Norwich and Swansea and, quite frankly, I don't think we will.

Norwich, Swansea and, to a certain extent QPR have all taken on the Premier League with ambitious, enterprising and attacking football and are all starting to make friends along the way. I would be delighted if all of them stayed up, as their attitude so far has been as terrific as the football they have tried to play.

So what about us, what about the Villa? I can only give a personal view, and if you disagree with it - that's fine. Football is subjective, football support is about opinions and all opinions have their place and need to be heard.

I think we are settling for mediocrity. More than that, I think mediocrity is the strategy now. Randy Lerner has got his fingers burned trying to crack the top four, and now he's in full retreat. He's trimming the wages, cutting the investment, selling the top players and maximising his "management fees" because, if he doesn't, he knows his money is down the toilet. There is no vision for Aston Villa Football Club any more - the vision is for Randy to get his money back, and fast.

And that's what's behind the appointment of Alex McLeish. Because if you can't buy top footballers (like Manchester City can), and if you don't have the coaching skill and resources to turn Academy players into first team regulars (like Arsene Wenger can), then all you have left is the Sam Allardyce/Tony Pulis approach - which is to bully the opposition with a bunch of big, strong animals.

Let me say right now, I have no problem with Pulis's Stoke or Allardyce's Bolton (as was). They worked with what they had, recruited what they could, and posed problems for the "big four" over and over again.

But do you want Villa to become a Stoke or a Bolton? Lerner does - that's why he's appointed McLeish. And that's why our back four reads Hutton, Collins, Dunne, Warnock. Big and aggressive and slow and old and.....need I say more?

It was a crap attendance on Saturday, and attendances will get worse. And they'll get worse because Villa fans won't accept this single minded drive for ordinariness. If Randy Lerner thinks he can get us behind some sort of new "crazy gang", then he's miles off the mark.

Villa play football. Sorry Randy, we're not behind your acceptance of mediocrity, and you're going to feel some heat from us. Up the Villa