I know a lot of people are currently in the "Lambert and/or Lerner and/or Faulkner Out" camps, but I'm starting to wonder if Aston Villa's most glaring problem has little to do with football. Instead, whoever is in charge of public relations at the club desperately needs to move into a new line of work, because they are clearly not cut out for this one.
First we had the disastrous #AskBennett campaign, in which one of the club's (perhaps unfairly) lesser-liked players was made available on twitter to answer questions. The result, abuse hurled at Bennett from every direction, was a bit saddening to be sure, but it was also entirely predictable to anyone who has ever used twitter. You can't put someone in the pillory and not expect the townsfolk not to throw rotten food.
Then we've had the ham-fisted attempts at quelling rumours surrounding the sale of the club and the suspensions of Ian Culverhouse and Gary Karsa. The most glaring of these was Randy Lerner's statement, which essentially said "Why are you looking behind the curtain, you should all be entertained by this dreadful football and the chance that we stay up!" It was petulant, unhelpful, and even stirred up more rumours than it stopped. Certainly that was Lerner's decision to make, but he must have done it in consultation with some sort of PR person, who led him astray.
The latest example of a stupid move comes in the form of a free kit. The club heard radio personality Vassos Alexander say on-air that his support for Aston Villa was wavering. That's obviously not good for the club's image, but hey, whose isn't? Well, to woo back Alexander, the club sent him a free kit.
And notice the lovely little note, too.
The reaction from fans? Outrage that, while their support was also wavering, they were not getting free kits. Now of course we're not all going to get free stuff to support the club, but if whoever thought this idea up didn't see the angry reaction coming, they're more stupid than Paul Lambert's substitutions.
It's one thing to be a bad club, as Aston Villa undoubtedly are. It's quite another to be bad and make your fans angry about it, rubbing their face in the badness every chance you get. If ever there were a time to placate the masses, it would be as you tottered on the edge of relegation entering the month of May. First thing the club should do this summer: get some new PR folk.
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