Morning all and welcome to the end of 2011 - not the best year for Aston Villa, but also not the worst. What can I write about this year that hasn't been already written, talked about and argued over?
Let me start with something that happened last year - the appointment of Gerard Houllier. Like him or love him - he had pulling power and he was changing things. The day he was appointed though - I said it was the wrong the decision - mostly because of the risk involved in appointing him, because he was never going to be a long term appointment.
I was proven right with my concern, but this post isn't about saying I was right. This post is about this year and towards the end of his time, things did start to go right. Certain players didn't like him and his assistant, but we had a fantastic run towards the end of the season and we finished a fairly, all things considered, respectable ninth.
The dark day
Then the club appointed twice relegated Alex McLeish. Then, the twice relegated manager said that Stewart Downing was going nowhere, after he held up a Liverpool scarf on holiday, a week before he joined Liverpool.
He then went on to sign Hutton, Jenas and N'Zogbia before telling us yesterday that he had to sell before he could buy in January. The concept of allowing him to sell players so he can buy is a scary one - we are in a horrible place with him at the moment and his style of football is best suited to clubs like Birmingham City, not Aston Villa.
But, the dark day was not created by him accepting a pay rise and a chance to manage a bigger club. We would all move from The Clowns to Aston Villa and take a pay rise. He can't be blamed for taking the job, much like none of us should be surprised at the football we are getting served up.
There is no renaissance
And today, we find ourselves in 12th in the Premier League with Chelsea and Swansea coming up in the next few days. One we should win, the other we should be happy with a point. But that is just the way I see it and possibly not what will happen.
We should also not look to last season as any benchmark. The manager last season joined in September and only had the January transfer window. While I said it was the wrong decision, I concocted a secret plan that saw Houllier getting rid of the players that couldn't move us forward and creating a culture of football, before moving upstairs and appointing his man in the managers job.
That, very sadly, didn't happen. Randy Lerner instead decided that enough was enough. He is now milking the club for all he can get out of it, before quite possibly selling up.
We also shouldn't look to the one point we have picked up from the last possible nine as any indication of change. There is no renaissance or renewed hope - this manager took his last club out of this league twice for the football he serves up and unless he is removed, there is a chance he will do the same with us - especially if the owner insists on cashing in.
There were games at his last club and there will be more but all that matters is points and wins and we don't have enough and when you then look at the football, it is clear as day that he doesn't want to win - he just doesn't want to win and I go back to what John Barnes said - you don't play that kind of football at a club like Aston Villa.
So, post nearly over and we have football coming up and for the 180 minutes we have over the next few days, I will believe we can win. It is what happens as a football fan - you believe you can beat anyone because you become, for a few minutes before and during a match, unrealistically optimistic.
Tomorrow we will have a post starting before the match and the same again on Monday, but if i forget tomorrow, I do want to wish you all a happy new year and if we want it and I mean, really really want it, we can force change.
The question is, do we really want it and if we do, what type of change. Do we just want the manager gone or do we want real roots and branch change at Aston Villa?
This isn't a time for it now - I still hold out hope that we will have a new owner coming soon and if we get who we really really want, we will get roots and branch change, it is just a pity Lerner never really did it, because if he did, we could be somewhere a little special right now, instead we fear the worst with a manager incapable of sustainable success.