Steve Round has been at Villa for twenty four hours and has already stamped his authority onto the club and changed the face of Villa’s backroom setup.
How so? Well Villa’s old ‘Head of Recruitment’ Paddy Riley has been already been sacked according to Gregg Evans of the Birmingham Mail.
As Evans’ noted, Riley managed to clash with three former Aston Villa managers; Paul Lambert, Tim Sherwood and Remi Garde. Three men, who likely would have succeeded at Aston Villa if backed correctly.
Villa’s recruitment under Lambert was dodgy, with the club being forced to scrape the bottom of the barrel. Ron Vlaar and Christian Benteke are the obvious highlights and it’s likely Lambert signed those players himself. Other players, such as Brett Holman, Antonio Luna and Karim El-Ahmadi were sent packing pretty sharpish after they failed to establish themselves in the side. Example A of pointless spending and signing under Riley.
It seemed that the stress of trying to keep the Villa fanbase happy whilst not being provided the resources to do so took it’s toll on Paul Lambert, who was dismissed in February 2015.
Tim Sherwood came into Villa after Lambert’s departure and had little luck. Villa underwent a small revolution in the summer of 2015 and a bunch of new recruits were brought in under Tom Fox’s ‘moneyball’ (It should be worth a mention that although this buzzword was used by Fox, it was just that. Villa’s 2015 signings were not exploiting any deficiencies in the transfer market at all.) and most failed to gel in at Villa. Worst of all, it seemed that Sherwood had absolutely no input on most of Villa’s incoming players, who didn’t seem to fill any of Villa’s requirements after the departures of Christian Benteke and Fabian Delph. Sherwood would be sacked in October.
The Englishman’s replacement, Remi Garde endured the worst relationship with Riley out of the three. Garde’s planning for the January 2016 transfer window was chucked away by Riley, who didn’t scout Garde’s targets. Garde then refused to acknowledge Riley, leading to a total breakdown in communication between the manager of the playing staff and the club’s higher management. As soon as January ended, Garde seemed determined to quit Villa and eventually succeeded in doing so, in the Spring of 2016.
Riley’s influence remained as both Ciaran Clark and Idrissa Gana would leave the club due to low minimum-fee release clauses that had been inserted into their contract by Riley. This move ended up costing Villa both money and depth. The Gana case is interesting as Paddy Riley signed a player for £9 million, but allowed him to, and made sure that he could, leave for £7 million. This is the very definition of unsustainable.
Tony Xia purchased Villa from Randy Lerner in 2016 and immediately had to set about galvanising the club after years of floor-level morale had eaten away at everything about Aston Villa.
Now, Villa’s new man in charge, Steve Round has ensured that Riley will no longer influence Villa’s major recruitment decisions going forward.
Whilst used as a scapegoat for the failings of Aston Villa by some, Riley did not do a good job and only succeeded on a number of occasions. Everyone wants to leave something after they’ve left, a sort of legacy, but Riley will only leave a bunch of players behind who are struck of morale and seem though the are the shadows of the players he once watched.