This fan’s perspective on that #avfc protest

Villa fans have legitimate reason to protest at the way the club has gone recently.

Views on how damaging it could be to the team vary, but personally I’d feel intense pressure to perform better. Yes it’d niggle at any doubts I already had over whether I am good enough, or whether my team mates are good enough, but ultimately it’d spur me on and then make me want to question what we’re doing as a team. That’s just me, and I guess some people shrink under that kind of pressure, but I hazard that these are broadly speaking Good Things. So fair play. A 42,000 roaring us on would be better in every way, but hey.

But we all know the protest isn’t really at the team. They’re not the cause. Not even the manager is the cause, although I think Lambert has done quite poorly for us. These things are operational symptoms of the cause which in my view is clearly the strategic management of the club.

We are seeing the mismanaged results of the step change in our Lerner-era corporate strategy: from the original medium term financial plan with European ambitions, to the ongoing costcutting and seeking to sell the club.

Successful football clubs have at least a vision, plus money. We have had neither for a sustained period (“Don’t Go Down” does not count as a vision!) and are now witnessing the consequences: very little success and worse, a kind of whole-club atrophy leading to decline across the board, or stasis at best.

At least we’re not Leeds. Jesus, I was living in Leeds when they imploded and it was hilarious awful. However I think it can be seen that every aspect of our club is underperforming.

  1. Sale of club: unsold
  2. Transfer strategy: dismal. Sell and not replace high value players to capitalise and reduce wages (at least partly to meet Financial Fair Play obligations as a result of failing to crack Europe and the revenue that would have brought)
  3. Signings: very poor results from what I accept is a strategically sensible idea at this time, to get cheaper players “with potential”
  4. On pitch: really poor displays that call coaching/attitude/ability into question
  5. Manager: not making the (admittedly poor) cards in his hand work at all
  6. Best players: want away (Delph, Vlaar) or look demoralised (Benteke)
  7. Attendances: well down
  8. Fans: agitated
  9. Charles N’Zogbia
  10. Academy/youth development: gone very quiet
  11. Media presence: started to feel very local, and quite poor online.

We’ve still got a decent crop of players and our infrastructure won’t stay asleep for long, but by gum. Is nothing going well?

I think sheer luck, and a legacy of defensive solidity, is all that has kept us in the premier league for at least the last three seasons. Our teeth must have very thick skin. I believe therefore that unless and until strategic management gets their fingers out, we should expect our general situation to continue.

No-one wants that, and that’s why I think a fan protest now is legitimate. Stay away for a quiet eight minutes, make your point, and then roar them on as usual.

Edit: In the interest of not being totally miserable, here’s what I like at the moment.

  1. We tend to rise up to face the bigger sides that come at us, which is nice
  2. We have home grown a lot of our players even if they’re not that good
  3. The fact that we have somehow got a player of Benteke’s quality, despite his obviously wobbly mentality
  4. Sanchez is a very good player
  5. Okore looks like a good buy
  6. Gil could do something, I hear his end product is poor at present but that may come and it can’t be any worse than N’Zogbia’s for goodness sake
  7. Grealish (Lambert: “Who?”) will probably be a good player.
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