Tag: Aston Villa

The 200% Pre-Season Previews: Aston Villa

For the supporters of Aston Villa Football Club, last season ended forty-eight hours after everybody else. Nine months of purgatory under the managership of Alex McLeish had resulted in the team finishing in sixteenth place in the Premier League, two places and two points above the relegation places, and it wasn’t until the clubs senior management and bowed to the inevitable in getting rid of McLeish that their season could truly begin. Although the team had seldom felt in genuine danger of relegation – they always seemed to be be a win or two clear of getting dragged into the mud-wrestling fight that the end of any Premier League season becomes at the wrong end of the table – it was in this act that the inner calm of the Aston Villa could finally begin to return. McLeish’s replacement was Paul Lambert, who led Norwich City from League One to the Premier League in successive seasons and then to a highly creditable twelfth placed finish in their first season back. Lambert is something of a gamble – all new managers are a gamble, and a new manager with only one season of Premier League managerial experience is perhaps more of a gamble than most – but so far Villa supporters seem reasonably pleased with the modest progress that he has made in tidying up the squad and saying the...

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Match Of The Past: Aston Villa

And so we reach the end of the current run of Match Of The Past, our summer series covering some of the great matches in the history of the clubs that will be making up the coming seasons Premier League. Our last club – and these haven’t been done in any particular order, in case you were wondering – is one of the founder members of the Football League in 1888, Aston Villa, and we have six matches from the years between 1972 and 1994. Our first match comes from 1972, a year during which the club found itself in the Third Division after some years of slow decline, and is a home match from a very different looking Villa Park against and AFC Bournemouth side featuring one of the lower divisions’ star players of the era, Ted McDougall. By the end of the decade, the club was back in the First Division and set to embark on one of its greatest periods as a club. We have three matches from this era, firstly an away match against Wolverhampton Wanderers from October 1979 which features the highly unusual sight of a double sending off for John Richards and Brendan Ormsby, then a match which Villa supporters might just already be familiar with, the 1982 European Cup final from Rotterdam and finally, at the beginning of what would turn out...

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100 Owners: Number 92 – Doug Ellis (Aston Villa)

If you ask the question of why the best-supported club in Englands second biggest city have managed just one English championship in the last one hundred and two years, there is a chance that some – if not many – Aston Villa supporters will have a ready-made answer: Doug Ellis. Ellis was one of the few English football club owners to survive what was a near-extinction level event for others of his generation, the formation of the Premier League and the subsequent influx of foreign capital into the top division of the game, and when he left the club in 2006, it was on his own terms and with a very healthy pay-off. Ellis was, however, considered by many of the clubs supporters to be one of the key reasons why Aston Villa took so long to recover their poise throughout the 1970s and failed to build on their surprise double of a Football League Championship and European Cup win at the beginning of the following decade. His thiriftiness when it came to paying to bring players into the club, they would argue, was only matched by ease with which he would bring the axe down on managerial careers – with good reason was he one of the few football club chairmen to earn an instantly recognisable nickname, “Deadly Doug”, a title given to him by Jimmy Greaves –...

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Swansea & Norwich: Cities Counting The Hidden Costs Of Success

This weeks news concerning the apparent departures of Brendan Rodgers and Paul Lambert to Liverpool and Aston Villa respectively means that the warm glow of satisfaction hanging over The Liberty Stadium and Carrow Road following a job well done last season seems unlikely to last for much longer. Swansea City and Norwich City were treated with derision by many upon their arrival into the Premier League a year ago, but the two clubs confounded expectations to complete their first seasons in their new home with so much as the concept of relegation crossing their minds. Indeed, the last day of the season saw, with hindsight, two results that would throw a light on the inner workings of the managerial merry-go-round with Swansea beating Liverpool and Norwich beating Villa. The costs of such success, however, cam be high. The significant achievements of Rodgers & Lambert last season drew the attention of two clubs with larger fan-bases and greater resources. This week, those who had romanticised these two clubs may have died a little on the inside as the occasionally intangible considerations that football frequently throws those lucky enough to be in its employ persuaded these two to jettison the work that they had put in at the modestly run clubs that they have been calling home of late. It is, arguably, possible to criticise either of these appointments for having...

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Bye ‘Eck – McLeish Out At Aston Villa

There is something rather appropriate about the fact that the first post-season managerial casualty in the Premier League should have turned out to be Aston Villa’s Alex McLeish. It was, after all, McLeish’s arrival at Villa Park last summer that was one of the most perplexing seen anywhere in recent times, and has been one of the most bitterly opposed by supporters of the club at which the appointment was made. But what was decried by many – including some in the media – as mindless tribalism turned out to be a case of the supporters of a football club understanding perfectly well how badly thus appointment might play out. Those supporters may well be raising a glass this evening, but they may also have pause to reflect upon what might yet come to be known as “Aston Villa’s lost year.” The decision to hire him in the first place was perplexing, to say the least. Under Gerard Houllier the previous season Villa had begun to give off a distinct whiff of decay, and with Houllier’s departure at the end of the season came a golden opportunity for rebirth, to engage players and supporters and to arrest the decline that the club had found itself drifting into since Martin O’Neill resigned a few days before the start of the 2010/11 season. Bringing in Alex McLeish, however, seemed to give...

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