Friday Feedback: The Snapping Point

Someday the losing will get too be too much to bear, and we'll all snap like Joleon Lescott. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Thank you all for coming today. Please grab your 7500 to Holte Hymnal from the pew in front of you and open to page 10. We'll be starting with our standard song today:

Gérard Houllier is here to stay,
Give him time and don't make him go away.
He's putting in a system that'd full of kids,
It's bound to be hampered by what MON did.

CHORUS
Let's be patient,
Let's be kind!
But the fact that we're retooling,
Should be always kept in mind!

Alright, now that we have the preamble out of the way, it's time for Friday Feedback. If you could give one word as a measure for Villa fans right now, I'm not sure if it'd be "raging" or "depressed." Things aren't looking so great from the Holte End, or from anywhere else for that matter. No one expected greatness from this year, but we also didn't expect to be sitting in the drop zone for the first time since 2003.

But we here at 7500 have been unflinchingly supportive of staying the course, at least for now. Every reader of this site knows that we want Houllier to stay on throughout the season, at the very least. But after the mid-week debacle of a match, I began to wonder (as I'm sure some of our readers did): What is your snapping point with Aston Villa? At what point do you throw in the towel on the Gérard Houllier idea and hope for an overhaul?

You'll find our answers below, and hopefully yours will be in the comments.

Aaron: My snapping point comes when I see the team make poor decisions as the result of panic. Sacking Houllier at any point before the end of the season would be indicative of that.

There are valid criticisms to be made of Gerard Houllier, but the gravity of Villa's current situation has blown them far out of proportion. He has quite simply not had anywhere near enough time to have his suitability as Aston Villa's manager to be evaluated. He inherited a squad with some very real problems that was in a tremendous amount of chaos. To ask him to take over the club in such circumstances and then deny him the opportunity to bring his own players into the squad and show what he is capable of with a fully-fit squad against a less daunting run of competition is rash and unfair. If Randy Lerner and the Villa board were to make such a decision it would erode a great deal of the confidence that I have in them.

In terms of Houllier specifically, it's difficult to say what the breaking point would be. If Villa continue to perform this poorly over the course of the rest of the season with a fully fit squad and players being brought in, it may very well be best to make a change in the summer. If Houllier makes desperate and panicky decisions in January that would lead me to desire change as well. Obviously should the worst happen and Villa find themselves sent down then he is not and never was the man for the job. Aside from that? It's impossible to say. I can see a scenario where Villa escapes relegation on the final day and ends up in 17th where I am calling for his head, but I can just as easily see the same situation and my being quite happy with the job he's done.

Results are important but how they are attained is equally important. It's entirely possible to do a lot of things right and finish just above the Championship (especially this season) while it's also possible to make a lot of awful decisions and find yourself playing in Europe. If Gerard Houllier goes about things in an intelligent manner with a clear, logical and sustainable process for guiding the team forward, I'll be happy and confident that the results will come. If he doesn't, no place in the table will give me confidence.

Gareth: It's a funny thing, really. I posted a comment on Aaron's Sunderland review, saying something to the effect of "set it on fire" (I think those may have been my exact words.) Now that I think about it, that wasn't exactly a measured response to the problems Villa face. But since when have I been known for that? I have, however, reached a frightening place where I find myself wondering about what the season would have been like if Kevin MacDonald had stayed on as manager. Which, at the time, I considered a worst case scenario. Shows how much I know. 


I have been rather pleased to hear some of the transfer rumblings, particularly when they're about Steve Sidwell leaving the club. It won't be a snapping point, as Robert puts it, but I will be immensely frustrated if Villa are relatively dormant during the winter transfer window. Nothing against Kyle Walker, but loan signings from Tottenham aren't exactly enough to pull a team out of a relegation battle (see: O'Hara, Jamie.) 

Over the last year and a half, we've lost:
  • Gareth Barry - one of Manchester City's midfield anchors, also spent a little time this summer in South Africa
  • Zat Knight - mainstay of Bolton's central defence
  • Craig Gardner - four goals this season is good enough to be top scorer for...well, some team
  • Marlon Harewood - five goals for Blackpool, the whole world's second team
  • James Milner - I don't need to tell you about James Milner, do I? Come on.
In that time, what have we picked up? Stewart Downing and a bunch of people who - if they've even made the starting lineup - have been pretty average (Dunne, Warnock, Pires, Ireland and Collins, and the latter two have been rumoured to be leaving. Which I'm okay with.) So have I snapped? No. But I've given up on this season, and I'm hoping that this club looks very different by this time next year. Something between an overhaul and a shakeup would probably do that for me.

Kirsten: I want him to make it through the season. I think that the Villa are still settling in to his system, but that in the end, it's one of the best systems we can hope for. As long as we finish 17, fine. That's just fine by me. If we've found a way to have results under GH, that is. But if there were to be a tipping point before the end of the season, it would be if the youngsters revolt. Or if he continues to not play Bannan and Albrighton. Rotate them in, fine, I get that. But one of my highs about Houllier was that he played the kids. If he's going to let fear get to him and keep them on the bench, I'm not going to be pleased.

Robert: My first thought is that I'm too new of a fan to have a snapping point. I have to pay my dues, etc. But that's a load of garbage. There has to be some point where even the newest fans can say: "What the heck, man?" But we're certainly not there yet. Really the only way I think calling for Houllier's head is justified is if we drop to the Championship. The squad we have is not relegation-quality, so there would be no excuse for that whatsoever. But until he gets a shot at the summer transfer window, and is afforded an opportunity to make a team that will play his way, we've got to give him time.

Now, should we find ourselves in this position in a year (or really, even around 15th or so), then it's time for him to go. I'm all for giving someone a chance, but it can only go so far. Less than a season will never be "so far."
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