Aston Villa chairman Randy Lerner has a reputation for being stringent of late, now more than ever Simon Bunn suggests that the American must dig deep into his pockets for the sake of the club’s immediate future.
Randy Lerner’s reign as Aston Villa chairman began with heavy investment and support for then manager Martin O’Neil. The result was Villa mounting a genuine challenge to break into the top four, and the England team becoming decorated with a scattering of Villa’s top players. Season after season those England international players have been sold off, to be replaced by players that cost not even half of what Villa received for their prize assets. The predictable outcome was the fact that each replacement proved to possess not even half of the quality of those sold.
Lerner’s more recent strategy has been to keep spending to a minimum. The result being that, for the second season running, Aston Villa is in serious threat of relegation. It doesn’t take much, but to have a brain in ones head, to see the difference between spending money and not spending money. You are not even required to be of football fan thinking to see such clarity. If you don’t invest in houses and hotels in the game of Monopoly then you are slowly going to be eaten alive. Aston Villa Football Club is slowly being eaten alive.
Some may lambast my call for Lerner to put his hands in his pockets, maybe citing Everton as an example of a club that can operate impressively with minimum spending. That of course would be a true point in case but, David Moyes is a world class manager, Lambert is still very inexperienced. At times when Everton did look vulnerable, in the lower regions of the league, Moyes had the ability and the players to turn it around. Now Paul Lambert needs to do the same with Villa but, with the squad at his disposal he needs Randy Lerner’s backing.
All of the teams around Villa, at the foot of the table, have been vigorously scouring the market, looking for the quality that will aid their cause. Villa’s complete inactivity in the market so far this window has been nothing short of frustrating. There is of course an argument for Lerner’s obvious stringency, that being long term financial stability. However he quickly needs to realise that the financial repercussions of being relegated will be far more damaging than a January investment in players.
The frustrating aspect for most Villa fans is the fact that Lerner does have money. In October he sold his stake in the Cleveland Browns NFL franchise for a reported £620m. I’m not requesting £50m, but just enough to bring in two or three experienced quality players. If given the money, Lambert also has to ensure that he spends it wisely, and for January at least, avoids the temptation of scouring the lower leagues for young untried players.
With a 1-0 home loss to Southampton, in a game where they outplayed Villa, the threat of relegation has suddenly become incredibly serious. Aston Villa are lacking character, confidence, guidance and, above all else experience. That will only come now by spending money. Lambert spent £20m in the summer on 8 players, now he needs to spend a similar amount, but on just two or three. His faith and acquisition of youth has not worked in the short term. Now he needs to bring in the experience and quality that will one day allow his foresight to reach fruition.
The famous adage say’s ‘you have to speculate to accumulate.’ In Villa’s case that has never been truer. Randy Lerner must ‘speculate’ money to ‘accumulate’ points. If that doesn’t happen Aston Villa Football Club may well be doomed. Make no mistake, this is very serious.
image: © Camera Eye Photography