Speaking to ESPN FC, Craig Burley has criticised the weakness of Aston Villa owner Randy Lerner, referencing the time he bowed down to fan pressure when he was going to hire Steve McClaren as head coach.
Burley said: “Randy Lerner and his cohorts, they were going to hire Steve McClaren a few years ago. There was outcry from Villa fans on social media and they changed their mind. How weak is that [from Lerner].”
The BBC claimed in 2011 that McClaren was a target for Villa, and they even lined up talks before the Midlands side cancelled a meeting planned between the two.
This was because of the fan reaction to rumours concerning the potential appointment, with McClaren’s reputation hardly high at that moment in time, even after winning the Eredivisie with FC Twente.
It would have been a risky appointment by Lerner, but clearly he and his fellow management team believed McClaren was the right man to lead the club forward following Gerard Holler’s departure from Villa Park.
However, he was forced to reverse his decision due to the fan response to such rumours, and Burley is critical of this weakness from Lerner.
McClaren ended up taking charge of Nottingham Forest that summer, and he is currently struggling as head coach of Villa’s relegation rivals Newcastle United.
Criticism of Lerner has continued in the following years, with the owner coming under intense scrutiny this season with Villa all-but relegated to the Championship.