McLeish’s Aston Villa could be dragged into relegation battle
Alex Sharp looks at Aston Villas dramatic slide into a potential end-of-season relegation battle under the Scot
Whilst most football fans around the world were glued to the Chelsea-Barcelona saga on Tuesday night, they missed the most crucial game of the evening – Aston Villa’s home Premier League clash with Bolton.
This huge cliched ‘six-pointer’ threw up three goals in three minutes, drama, disappointment and abuse.
Villa have spiralled into relegation contention following months of dismal results and their rivals below them improving.
Owen Coyle looks to have team spirit and cohesion at Bolton whereas the situation at Aston Villa is dire. The abuse directed at Alex McLeish was vile – no one deserves that, however the fans are right to display their anger.
Villa, who face their West Midlands rivals West Brom this weekend, have won only once in 13 Premier League games and have only one victory at home since November 2011.
At only three points above drop zone, times are hard, especially when even David N’Gog fires the winner.
Are McLeish’s signings to blame or have his hands been tied by a stingy owner? Partly both.
Alan Hutton, Carlos Cuellar and Richard Dunne are defenders well beyond their best, while Charles N’Zogbia has been a disappointment.
McLeish has failed to add firepower alongside Gabby Agbonlahor, with Villa severely lacking goals and any sort of presence, especially with Ashley Young fleeing to United last summer.
Emile Heskey hasn’t scored a league goal in 16 months – and Darren Bent is over-rated.
In Mcleish’s defence, he has had a catalogue of injuries along with the tragic news of captain Stiliyan Petrov’s diagnoses of acute leukaemia.
The Scot has done well to nurture in youth such as the explosive Andreas Weimann and Marc Albrighton – but that simply isn’t enough in this arduous league.
A culmination of a lack of investment and poor signings has dragged Villa into relegation trouble.
Mcleish is a very defensive manager, with very simple tactics, and he has never had the support of the ardent fans ever since he jumped ship to Villa Park after Birmingham’s relegation last summer.
The obvious turning point for Villa was Martin O’Neil’s resignation five days before the start of the season in 2010. Villa had challenged for Champions League qualification up against the likes of Arsenal and Liverpool with three straight sixth-place finishes in the league.
O’Neil apparently left after a dispute over transfer funds. Randy Lerner must now seriously regret his reluctance to spend as his side could now find themselves in the Championship next season.
McLeish, on the other hand, should look elsewhere. Even if he keeps Villa up, he’ll never obtain the fans support and he is unlikely to have the funds to invest.
But if he relegates two sides in successive years, Mcleish won’t be in demand – that’s for sure.