Dave Woodhall on the end of Villa’s season and a new beginning.
At least it’s over now, and the final act of the season was fairly painless. Villa turned up at White Hart Lane, suffered the expected defeat without too much of a fight and now the fun can begin.
Well, when I say fun I mean that at least we’ve got three months without having to endure displays like this one. That’s a blessing at least. Villa played against Spurs in much the same way as they have far too often since August – without any idea or imagination, and with very little intensity. Whether Paul Lambert sent the team out intent on defence yet again, or whether he was prepared to let them try to attack was a moot point as they didn’t get the ball often enough to see how they were trying to play. Spurs could have scored well before they got their first goal and if there an element of luck with the second and an odd penalty decision for the third it didn’t matter as they could have got another couple had they wanted. It really was men against boys, or at least players who instinctively knew what to do with the ball against a team who had to stop and think every time it came near them.
Spurs declared at half-time, which was a relief for Villa’s goal difference, and the only thing worthy of comment in the second half was the Villa supporters’ songs of gallows humour concerning new owners, new managers and untold riches to come. After all, we may as well be hopeful for the future because the present doesn’t offer very much. Results elsewhere meant that Villa ended the season in fifteenth place, which is the same as the team did last season, albeit with three less points. It’s not good enough, and finishing above the Albion is no consolation whatsoever. There have probably been worse Villa teams but not many, and none where so much money has been spent to such little effect. Lambert hasn’t had the funds available to him that some of his predecessors have enjoyed, but his transfer record is mixed, to put it kindly, and his recent announcements that avoiding relegation is some kind of notable achievement have been an insult to the intelligence.
It had been believed that Monday morning would see Randy Lerner following up last month’s oddly-worded statement with an announcement clarifying his role in the club’s future, and sure enough, it arrived at 10am. It was lengthy, touched on Judaism and was clearly written from the heart. Regardless of what his time as Villa’s owner has brought, Lerner is obviously a decent man well aware of Villa’s role in, as he put it, “the McGregor tradition of being mindful of the local community we serve.” While the greatest need is for a quick and painless transition to new ownership, almost as important is that the next custodian continues to uphold the tradition of decency, of instinctively knowing how to do the right thing, that was established many years ago by the founders of Aston Villa and which has been so willingly upheld by Randy Lerner.