Since Gérard Houllier left the Aston Villa job, there’s been an inevitably high level of conjecture as to the identity of the new manager and, more importantly, the intentions of Randy Lerner. Sadly – in my view at least – it appears that the tide has turned against Lerner in recent weeks, to the point where idiots like Will Doherty suggest that Villa’s problems are due to Lerner “cutting costs”, taking away when he should be investing. Rubbish.
The reason for Villa’s problems is obvious and inescapable: Martin O’Neill spent a criminal amount of money on a laughable class of footballer, and as a result they haven’t got any money or any good players. Sure, they sold Barry, Milner and Young for a combined £60m, give or take, but that’s not going to be available to spend. Not if Lerner has any interest in balancing the books.
Having allowed O’Neill to spend over £5m in transfer fees alone on (deep breath) both Ashley and Luke Young, Milner, Cuéllar, Downing, Warnock, Sidwell, Shorey, Reo-Coker, Collins and Dunne, as well as a combined £17m on Curtis Davies and Fabian Delph (masterstroke, that), it was absolutely incredible that he’d sanction a spend of roughly £30m on two players in January 2011: but he did, once again.
If Lerner is to blame for anything, it’s not for “cutting costs”. It’s for allowing costs to reach the level they did; for allowing O’Neill to run up one of the league’s highest wage bills whilst only ever using twelve of his players. The job at Villa isn’t unattractive because Randy Lerner isn’t willing to invest. It’s unattractive because of the damage done when he previously pinned all of his hopes on a dud.