I remember when I was a kid and I saw you drive the Celtic midfield forward. I remembered seeing the BBC go nuts when you whipped Norwich with seven goals, only for them to hire you. I remember everyone hyping you up when you brought Norwich back to the Premier League.
For a long time, Aston Villa have been a sinking ship. MON drove the team into a financial iceberg that they have never recovered from. They are halfway in between a club with a great corporate infrastructure and a club with no hope at all. Villa have no star player, no flair, no passion, no love. Aston Villa really didn't have much going for them except the Holte End. Houllier's health failed him, McLeish's tactics failed us. Then you came along.
When you could have ran away with a reputation intact, you didn't. You could have stuck to your guns and brought us down a few years back, you didn't. You could have stuck to the same formulas, the same players, the same methods and the same tactics, but you didn't.
You experimented, you adapted, you tried, you clung, you fought, but every war must have a loser. That's just the way of life. You didn't give up, you stood your ground. You brushed off abuse, neglect and vitriol and went back to the battlefield every morning. You supported a fanbase that turned against you.
Some things are not ever going to work out. Even if Villa had hired Ferguson in '83 or bought Falcao in '09, would we have done any better? Would those people have transformed into what they are now had they performed for our grand old team? Likely not.
You came to Aston Villa as a bright, young manager and will now leave a grizzled veteran. You will be ready to drag an unfashionable team through the mire into the mouth of victory from the crushing jaws of defeat, you will know be able to reflect and know some things won't work, no matter how hard you try. You now know that it's ok to give up, it's ok to move on and call it quits. It took me until yesterday to give up and I'm glad we had the time we did with you, Paul. It provided brief moments of excitement when we struggled for the slightest smile, we had the briefest glimpse of hope.
Aston Villa took a gamble on you and it didn't pay off. Thank you anyway. You tried. As for the future? We go again.