Trouble At Villa

And the award for Most Chaotic Pre-Season Build-Up goes to… Aston Villa. In a tale of intrigue and double-dealing that would do Ian Fleming proud, Villa’s pre-season has gone up in a cloud of smoke that reeks of intrigue, double-dealing and wheeler-dealing in the corridors of Villa Park. The in-fighting and back-biting are threatening to tear the club in two before the season has even started and, as ever in football, the big issue appears to be a matter of ego. The central contenders are, of course, Doug Ellis and David O’Leary. In the red corner is Doug Ellis. Ellis is arguably the last of the old-style football barons. He runs Villa Park like his own personal fiefdom – he’s outlasted such wily old boys as Ron Atkinson, Graham Taylor and Ron Saunders. He’s used to (at least off the pitch) getting what he wants. He bulldozed the venerable Trinity Road Stand at Villa Park, and he named the other new stand after himself. He seems to take failure on the pitch as an almost personal affront – perhaps justifiably, considering the amount of money he’s put into them over the years. He is, having survived prostate cancer and a triple heart bypass in the three years, as tough as old boots. He’s used to being told that he’s not wanted at Villa Park, and he doesn’t seem to...

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