Weren’t Lerner’s words worthy of a proper statement?
By Rich Petersson
For a club usually so tight-lipped and cloak and dagger, Aston Villa have really been in the news over the last few days.
After a wave of concern was expressed by Villa supporters at the weekend – including a Aston Villa Supporters’ Trust statement and the turning of the Villa away fans on Lambert at Selhurst Park – firstly, we had the statement from CEO Paul Faulkner requesting that the fans ‘pull together’ and ‘channel our energies into creating a positive atmosphere’. Followed ironically, a day later by the dramatic news that the Assistant Manager (Ian Culverhouse) and Head of Football Operations (Gary Karsa) had been suspended, pending an internal investigation (aka ‘sacked’). Simultaneously, it was announced that Gordon Cowans and Shay Given were ‘temporarily promoted’ to Paul Lambert’s coaching team along with Scott Marshall being given additional responsibilities.
Now, marginally more surprising than Shay Given’s transition from ‘bomb-squad’ to motivator, the highly criticised Chairman, Randy Lerner, has added to the drama.
Interestingly, the Villa Chairman has chosen to be heard via an article on the official website and written by Brian Doogan (the Head of Media at Villa Park). Why not issue a straight-up ‘from the horse’s mouth’ statement? We were going to run the headline ‘Lerner Speaks’, but actually he’s just been quoted, as his words seemed to have needed a little extra spin filler.
Anyway, lets not detract from the fact he has decided to speak to the fans for the first time in far too long. Finally his silence is broken. A silence that goes back a long way. A silence that has convinced many, Villa fans and media types alike, that his heart just isn’t in it anymore and neither is his money. Perhaps understandably so.
It will be very easy for Villa fans to remain cynical, as the article itself is very woolly. It begins by acknowledging that he ‘could not ask for more’ from Cowans and Given, a strange statement that could be interpreted in different ways.
They are both paid employees of the club, why would they hesitate to answer Paul Lambert’s call? Given himself would have good reason, having been frozen out of the first team and shipped out on loan but Cowans?
If, unsubstantiated, rumours are to be believed, one of Culverhouse’s indiscretions was a confrontation with the Villa legend. A confrontation that, once again, rumours suggest led to Lambert siding with his Development Coach. Gordon Cowans was previously a First Team coach during Alex McLeish’s ill-fated spell in charge, perhaps that role left him feeling as though he preferred to work in the background, away from the limelight. The truth is, we can only speculate.
The article continues with Lerner saying that he has seen the manager approach the situation with ‘total loyalty and commitment’ having experienced ‘unexpected issues that could have easily set the club back’.
Loyalty in the modern game? He gets paid very well to do a job.
Lerner would have a hard time convincing many fans that Lambert’s actions haven’t already set the club back, in fact, he is ultimately responsible for the decision to employ Culverhouse and Karsa in the first place. He must bear some of the blame for the fiasco surrounding their suspension. However, without full details of the misdemeanors committed by his coaches, we do not know the extent to which he may feel betrayed by them. Some may feel that he is a coward for allowing his Lieutenants to be suspended without falling on his own sword, but, once more, we do not know exactly what the suspended employees have done.
A final point on this ‘statement’, is perhaps what it doesn’t say. It applauds Lambert for many things, yet there is no serious backing for the manager. This was also noticeably absent in Paul Faulkner’s statement on Monday.
Either Lerner and Faulkner are aware that votes of confidence are more often referred to as ‘dreaded’ as opposed to ‘reassuring’ or more likely, they are aware that this is not what the fans want to hear.
Lambert’s job should still be under serious scrutiny, questions still need to be answered and Lambert should face a very probing process of evaluation, to identify exactly why the progression at Aston Villa has ground to a halt. UTV
Thanks to Richard, this article pretty much summed up MOMS thoughts on the Lerner announcement and is taken from the original article on his blog Much Ado About Sport. You can follow him on his new Twitter account – @weeklygroan