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Lerner's Burden: Are Villa destined to repeat themselves?

Time is a flat circle, after all.

Stu Forster/Getty Images

Manchester United win and keep winning. Arsenal trust their youth and keep winning. Chelsea spend more than God and keep winning. Like Rust Cohle said in True Detective; "time is a flat circle. Everything we've ever done or will do, we're gonna do over and over and over again."

The only way we can break that cycle is through some sort of drastic change. An infusion of cash, as happened at Manchester City, or a total loss of it as at Leeds or Portsmouth. If you want to break from stagnation, you need that catalyst. You need to change the ideology or the funding at the very top of a club. But once you do that, if you stick with a winning formula, you'll guarantee success that happens over and over and over again.

Back in 2006 I was in the barbers with my Dad and my brother and I remember seeing a picture of Martin O'Neill walking into Villa Park and being mobbed by the adoring masses. It was like the second coming! A more contemporary reference would be that scene in Game of Thrones where Daenerys is mobbed by the population of the city she has just liberated. That is no exaggeration on my part, O'Neill had to walk through a parted crowd who slapped him on the back, shook his hand and cheered his name. He was Villa's saviour after the fans had turned on the Ellis and O'Leary partnership. Lerner and O'Neill brought success to Villa, even though this wouldn't be stapled into the history books with silverware O'Neill's reign brought belief and passion back to Aston Villa, after a few years in the doldrums of uncertainty.

Lerner basically gave the Ulsterman a blank cheque for the next number of years and O'Neill obliged him by spending and reinforcing almost every area of the team. Aston Villa had an amazing level of squad depth and of course, a few years later, Lerner would realise what had happened to his money and stand his ground. NO MORE! He would say and we all know what happened there. O'Neill left and Lerner hired managers that would be okay with the lack of financial freedom. This isn't to say he didn't support them with his wallet, but less so than the MON days.

So. Why did Lerner buy the club if he was going to fall out of love with it when it became a money-sink? I've got one theory and it revolves around the idea of a 'plaything'. Lerner's childlike sense of wonder appealed to him and he brought the club he had once heard of during his studies in England. When Lerner took over Villa, it was as if it was some charitable act. Not that I dislike him for trying, but I am starting to believe he went into this project without a plan past five years. It seems that the excitement of being noted down as some sort of saviour or an icon got the best of him and that it is now his own burden and his own house that he slammed a pickaxe into.

It's almost ten years now since Lerner bought Aston Villa and not much has changed, in fact, I've found a series of images that back my point up. Has anything changed at all?


This is where we started. AVFC fans protesting against the ownership of one Doug Ellis. This was just before Lerner came in to 'save the day'. Nothing odd about this then?

Mcliesh out

Oh yeah, that's when we wanted McLeish out. This is the first example of Lerner doing something so bad as to get the Villa fans on his back (and McLeish's). Obviously AVFC sacked Alex and hired Paul Lambert! The future's bright. Right?

Oh. I see. We return to day one. Paul Lambert's final game and it's a continuation of what we have been through before. I've not got an image, but another sheet was held up protesting Randy Lerner. You probably know what I mean.

I'll go back to how I began this article. Aston Villa's future timeline doesn't look like a line, where the start is right now and the end is a trophy, it looks like a circle where we will continue to protest, underachieve and disappoint unless someone with a plan and a goal takes over with the financial weaponry to support said plan. Until then, we look destined to spraypaint some bedsheets over and over again.