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New owner shouldn't throw away all of Lerner's Villa

Villa fans are right to be excited by a new owner in Dr. Tony Xia - but not everything needs to be rebuilt.

Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

The day has finally arrived  - Randy Lerner's gone, hello Dr. Tony Xia and a possible £40 million transfer budget. Villa fans are right to be excited. The last three seasons saw the club spiralling towards relegation, an object lesson that running a Premier League football club as a cost-cutting exercise doesn't work, while fans stuck by the side.

But if there's one lesson from the Lerner era that we learned, it's that lurching from one extreme to another is disastrous for a football club and Xia should keep some things in place from the previous owner.

This catastrophe of a season was the final result of the club flailing after Lerner turned off the money tap that Martin O'Neill enjoyed, bouncing between relying on the youngsters, then 'experienced professionals' and a last gamble on a 'Moneyball' approach mixed with Tim Sherwood's personal choices.

Contracts were handed out seemingly at random, with no attention to the age, potential sell-on value or tactical fit. Good players were allowed to leave for nothing and bad players sold off for huge losses.

The on-pitch confusion was reflected off the field with a string of managers, directors and backroom staff flooding in and out of Villa Park. There was never a coherent plan which could keep the club moving in one direction while Lerner managed from a distance.

That has to change under our new owner. As hopeful as we all are, there needs to be a structure to keep the club on track, especially if Tony Xia will be overseeing things from China.

It seems that Keith Wyness, former Everton CEO, and possibly Christopher Samuelson, a sporadic football dealbroker also seen at Everton and Reading, will have prominent roles in the new set-up.

Both of those men come with significant reservations from fans of their former clubs. That's not unusual in football, where almost no-one keeps a wholly positive reputation in the long-term, and shouldn't necessarily be held against them, but the club needs a long-term plan that preserves the club from individual poor decisions.

A good start would be keeping some of the key players from the current squad. Jordan Ayew, Jordan Amavi and Idrissa Gana are three players who should be more than a match for the Championship  - better to keep them than gamble on finding good replacements.

It's not clear if Paddy Riley, Director of Recruitment, made those choices but the method that found them needs to be continued and refined - while the one that saw Micah Richards and Joleon Lescott arrive must be scrapped.

In the long-term, though Villa's 'Moneyball' approach seems to have been botched last summer, the principle of finding undervalued players and tactics and making smart decisions about selling when a player is overvalued (remember when Gabby was worth £10 million?) should become central to the club. It was the right approach, just arrived at far too late.

Tony Xia appears to have bought Villa as a savvy investment just as China's hunger for football is really taking. Hopefully he's willing to put the long-term conditions in place that will lead to real success.