Aston Villa has had a very lackluster season and it’s a season that in my mind is going to end in relegation. They are a side that is in serious trouble. After announcing near £54 million losses last month, the team now sit just 8 points outside of the relegation zone. For any team this is not an ideal situation to be in, but safety should be more than manageable. We must remember though that THIS is an Alex McLeish-led team, a team led by a man who inspires absolutely no confidence at all. The Villa supporters have a right to be upset since it was just a season ago he oversaw the relegation of their rivals Birmingham City. The only difference between this season and last is that the teams at the bottom of the table are much worse off. Through 29 games with City McLeish mustered a mere 31 points and the team languished in 19th place, a single point ahead of Wigan. This season Villa have managed to put up 33 points through 29 games, which may be an improvement, but certainly not what fans were expecting.
Or maybe they were expecting this the way they protested before the opening game of the season? Are fans of Aston Villa clairvoyant? No, they just knew a bad situation coming when they saw it.
Things have been in a bit of a decline at Villa since the departure of Martin O’Neill. After three successive 6th place finishes, they slipped a bit last year finishing 9th in the league, their lowest since ’06-’07 when they finished 11th. But being in the top half of the table, especially for a club like Villa, is a completely respectable position to finish in. Half of the league would be thrilled to end the season in the top 10. But after a series of unfortunate health related events that forced Gerard Houlier to quit managing, Villa were in a transition period. The hiring after Houlier was a crucial one and the higher ups at Villa got it absolutely wrong. Alex McLeish is a perennial underachiever as a manager who has had most of his success coaching one of the top two teams in Scotland. Even when he was manager at Rangers the fans couldn’t wait for him to leave. The few successes he has had as a manager are outweighed by some of the astonishingly awful runs of form he puts his teams through. Take last season for example, a league cup win for City coupled with a heartbreaking relegation on the final day of the season. These are the sort of trends that have defined Alex McLeish’s career.