Aston Villa between a Rock and a Hard Place After Sacking

The ramifications of Steve Round leaving Villa

Mr Villa Engine

He was the man who coined the term ‘The Villa Engine’, but Villa’s Director of Football, Steve Round, has left Aston Villa, before he could even decide on what tool kit he’d need to build it.

MOMS understands that chairman Tony Xia wasn’t happy with several of his exec team, and that other heads would roll beyond his fallout with former CEO Keith Wyness. Round’s dismissal is either proof of that or simply a cost cutting exercise.

The club’s statement on Round who was at the club for almost two years was short and offered zero explanation:

“We can confirm Director of Football Steve Round has left the club.

“The club would like to thank Steve for all his efforts and wish him well for the future.”

Bruce Choice

Steve Bruce had been top of both Wyness and Round’s list, so in that respect the current Villa manager would be deemed their greatest failure in terms of not giving the club the promotion they so desperately sought.

Bruce was never going to be the long-term mechanic to build the Villa Engine. Rather, he was employed with the short-term mission of getting the club promoted. As supporters soon found out, the club’s financial standing desperately depended on it.

However, indications are that the Villa manager will carry on, albeit with less of an infrastructure around him.

The cold light of day analysis of the situation is if Bruce was jettisoned, it would leave Villa in a state of farce, with their being no-one currently at the club to make a due diligence footballing decision on a new boss. It’s kind of a between a rock and a hard place scenario.

Villa’s Roundabout

MOMS had met Steve Round a couple of times and he talked a good game, but how quickly a new Villa way could be implemented was always a grey area. From the outside it wasn’t easy to see evidence of it so far, after two seasons.

Other teams benefit from undergoing such surgery in the lower leagues to provide the foundations for promotion and later success (for example – Swansea City, Southampton, Leicester City), Villa seemed to be waiting for promotion first.

Is it easier to start the process when you’re in the Premier League? A club may have more money, but it’s an ethos that needs developing from the root up. The next excuse could have been, ‘we need to establish ourselves in the Premier League first’. So which league they were in was immaterial.

If the Director of Football wasn’t being effective in the here and now, then Round was a luxury appointment and further evidence of Villa trying to behave like a Premier League outfit off the pitch, while they weren’t on it. In that sense there’s no surprise to see him being pruned off the wage list.

Any long-term vision of Villa has seemingly been undermined by failed short-termism, so it’s been hard as a supporter to buy into it. Remember, the Villa board under Xia’s first managerial choice was Roberto Di Matteo, a manager who had never completed a second season as a manager at any club.

A lot of talk and promises from the club haven’t stacked up under closer analysis.

Villa have seemed to be going round and round without building a path to anywhere along the way.

The players have this week returned to the club for pre-season training and they will soon get a sense of its potential next season. Some players that should have been discarded will no doubt get to take advantage of the situation and stay on, others will maybe conclude their future is best served elsewhere.

The soap opera continues…


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  1. Good piece. Just like Lerner before him, the novelty has worn off for Xia and he wants out. Shedding costs to make the club more saleable. As with Tom Fox – never saw the point of Round. Same model. Bruce will be next. Wonder how many players bothered to turn up for pre season?

  2. I am not totally surprised Steve Round has gone, although the timing seems rather odd. I would have thought he should have parted company a little earlier if Dr T was dissatisfied with his performance.

    It seems less likely Bruce will follow his namesake out of the club, unless he decides conditions have made it all too uncomfortable to stay and he repeats his Hull City exit. He will feel very cramped in his role, now he lacks the ability to stock up on overpaid old time charlies. The rumours in regard to McGoldrick being a new target may or may not have substance, but it has all the hallmarks of a typical Brucie special. He is quite simply a short-termist operator with no regard to finances, player re-sale value or sell-on attraction. He was an ideal choice to join Dr T’s big gamble; except he failed.

    I now quite like the thought of drawing a halt to the Tynesider’s manoeuvring and to see if he can possibly operate successfully without buying his way out of the pickle he creates for himself. I fancy I know how it will conclude.

  3. There’s no rock – just the hard place. Bruce could walk next week, when the merry-go-round starts and pre-seasons are fully under way. It may be that there is a TO under way and it was deemed more expedient for DX to axe Round than any new owner – who can then bring in who they want day one. Realistically though TO would only be done by end next month, which means we go into a new season on a wing & a prayer.

  4. Yes Villa are going round and round but in ever diminishing circles and at this rate before long we will probably disappear, the owner is now bringing politics into it he won’t take a good and sound deal from the Americans because of the China tariff saga, come on leave it out before it’s too late I think it’s time for the Dr to go. He’s completely lost the plot.

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