WIGAN, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 25: Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish gestures from the touchline during the Barclays Premier League match between Wigan Athletic and Aston Villa at DW Stadium on February 25, 2012 in Wigan, England. (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images)
Alex McLeish is desperately urging Aston Villa supporters to get behind their team as they face Blackburn at the reason. Problem is, he's not giving fans any reason to get excited. Robbie Keane has gone back to Los Angeles Galaxy. Darren Bent is out for the rest of the season. The club's finances are a mess. And, of course, McLeish remains at the helm of our beloved claret and blue.
Villa Til I Die. But what does it mean?Protests against non-Sir are getting louder with each day. The Villa haven't won a match since playing at Wolves on January 21. They currently sit in 15th in the table. Worse than that, though, they seem to barely be trying, struggling to find even a point -- the point that McLeish so desperately wants to play for. Keane was a breath of fresh air, but he's gone now, leaving us once again with little to nothing to be excited about.
The phrase means, to me, supporting the club through all, even when things get so desperate that you feel as though you'd rather submit to death than watch one more minute of a match. But it doesn't mean supporting a manager that, time and again, has shown his complete and utter ineptitude at his chosen profession.
"Give it time," many have suggested. There's no point in removing managers mid-season. McLeish has inherited a squad, after all. Next season will be better, when he has his own players and can set up his own system. And look at the positive side -- after all, while at other clubs, AML has at least brought in players that don't have "proven Premier League experience."
But is giving it time really the solution? A couple months ago, I did a little study on how long Italian managers stay with their club. Previously, it was Attilio Tesser who had the longest record, bringing Novara up from Serie B. But the struggling club fired him last month. Now, Walter Mazzarri holds the title, having been with Napoli since 2009.
And yes, there's something to be said for that consistency -- after all, Napoli are playing in the Champions League. But look at the rest of Italy: Juventus hired Antonio Conte just this season, and they're unbeaten. Max Allegri took AC Milan top in his first season. Vincezo Montella has Catania playing their most exciting football in years.
Serie A has its ups and downs with management. Inter Milan hired Claudio Ranieri, experienced a surge in form, and are now spiraling downward. Palermo hire and fire coaches with impunity, yet they still ride a roller-coaster of results. Fiorentina thought their problems were with Siniša Mihajlović, but they can barely get a result under Delio Rossi, either.
The Serie A merry-go-round might not be the best one for Aston Villa to emulate. But the point is, a new manager is not as frightening as many people seem to think. It doesn't cause as much turmoil as could be expected, and bringing someone in at the beginning of summer can do a lot to lift a squad. A new man at the helm could bring new ideas and insight to a club that is clearly struggling to find any sort of creativity. And it certainly brings a rush of excitement to the fans, who are clamoring for change.
I'm not holding out hope that McLeish will be replaced before summer. But I am advocating bringing in someone new in June. Sure, AML could find his own players in the transfer window. That doesn't change the fact that he still doesn't know anything about tactics, or has anything but an outdated approach to the game. To give him that chance, to let him stay on and try to prove himself as a manager for Aston Villa Football Club, will only serve to further alienate fans, and probably see even more of our young talent leave the club.
*disclaimer: words in this article are entirely the opinion of Kirsten Schlewitz, who does not claim to speak for any other authors on this site*