Randy Lerner assumed control of Aston Villa in 2006. Since that time we've had seven complete seasons and we're on our fourth manager. Isn't it now time for a review?
When Lerner took over there was a huge amount of positivity. We had General Krulak sometimes posting on forums and then other times we had PR people using his account to also post. We had Martin O'Neill and a belief that we were going to win things soon.
We had an owner with an Aston Villa tattoo (yet I'm still to see proof of this) and the appointment of a driven CEO. In November 2006, we all believed it was possible.
Fast forward to today and a lot has happened. But it's not fair to just look at what Lerner has or hasn't achieved without putting it into some sort of perspective.
So lets have a look at the seven seasons before Lerner took control, but before we do, do you think there is much of a difference?
Then and now
In those seven seasons, we had three managers; John Gregory, Graham Taylor and David O'Leary and I think those managers, to an extent, mirror the ones we've had under Lerner.
O'Leary is O'Neill and let me explain why. Had you given O'Neill £200mn to spend he would have got us in the top four and once in, he'd have gotten more and we'd have stayed for a while and who knows, maybe still be there.
It was money and George Graham that got Leeds into Europe for David O'Leary. I think you'll agree there were similarities.
And many will say that O'Neill spent a lot of money, but he spent enough to get top six. You could argue that maybe fifth was in the offing, but one thing is for sure looking back, he needed more for top four.
During his entire Premier League managerial career O'Leary went backwards as a manager and there is no coincidence that every season he also had less to spend. You only have three or four types of manager and we all know where he goes.
Graham Taylor is the modern day Alex McLeish, in so much it should have never happened. There is a saying that you don't go back to a company you once worked for and because it's a saying, I shouldn't have to go into the reasons why. And we all knew that Alex McLeish should never have been appointed. Well, almost all of us.
As for John Gregory, I think he best mirrors Paul Lambert. We had some really good times under Gregory and he had a great group of players and the football isn't that different. Lambert is still working on it and I think it's fair to say that Gregory brought in better players and had more options open to him (as in more support from the Chairman), but Lambert will get it too when the books are more evenly balanced and the club can afford more debt.
But none of the managers in the previous seven seasons came close to what Houllier was trying to do for us and I'm not sure we ever had a manager that we could mirror him against. If only his health hadn't caught up with him, I'm still convinced that we'd have moved a lot further forward with him than many ever thought.
But it isn't just about looking at the managers. What did they achieve? To make this easy, there is a table below for the time before Lerner and the time with Lerner, showing where we finished that season.
Under Doug Ellis
Under Randy Lerner
It's all about the numbers
But what does this tell us? It tells us that since Lerner took over, if you add up all those seasons and all those finishes, we've finished, on average, in 10th place. But if you go back to the seasons under Ellis and add up all those seasons and all those finishes, we also, on average, finished in tenth place. So, not much of a difference.
But you can play with those numbers and what I've done to come up with that is simply add up the place we finished and divided it by seven. There are other ways to look at, but I like this way, it's crude and simple.
Point of the post
I sort of want to make this next point clear; I'm not trying to rally the troops or point any fingers. I'm merely trying to point out that nothing has really changed. Instead of saving and borrowing from the bank, we just borrow from Lerner and instead of saving, we pay him interest on top.
It was nice knowing that there was someone at the club interested in seeing Aston Villa do well.
Again, this isn't a dig at Lerner, we all know now what he's about and this isn't me saying we need to get someone in that has the club at heart (say what you want about Ellis, he does), it's just me saying that this is it for now and unless it changes at the top, it isn't going to get better.
Something to think about
And just for the record, when you add up the finishes under Lerner and divide by the seven seasons we end up on 9.86. When you divide the number under Ellis before that, we end up on 10. And unless Lambert finishes in the top five this season, eight seasons under Lerner will be worse than the previous eight seasons under Ellis.
And, this one will really get you thinking; somebody go add up the net spend under Lerner and the net spend under Ellis, as a proportion of revenue coming into the business and over the same period as above. That will really make you think.