LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 27: Alex McLeish, Manager of Birmingham City celebrates victory during the Carling Cup Final between Arsenal and Birmingham City at Wembley Stadium on February 27, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Twitter and sports have become inseparable. Most of us who write for sports blogs of any kind use Twitter as a way to keep up with sports news as it happens and add our own commentary, converse with like-minded (or completely insane) fans and of course promote our content. If one gains a sizable following they will get their voice heard by that many more people and the tool becomes more and more powerful. Naturally, there are a few folks out there that are trying to exploit people's hunger for information by claiming to be in the know and reporting on things that people desperately want to believe to be true.
Aston Villa is at a crossroads as a club. Randy Lerner and Paul Faulkner made the questionable decision to hire a man with a very questionable resume as its manager and things have worked out almost as poorly as they possibly could have. It seems that Aston Villa is going to live to see another season in the top flight of English football. With the threat of relegation all but removed (save a slight mathematical improbability) the fans have turned their focus to the off-season.
While this isn't a new phenomenon, I see it pop up in my Twitter feed once a day and I expect it to increase as we near the final whistle on a campaign that can only be described as a weekly kick in the skin chandeliers. The folks that claim to be in the know behind anonymous accounts are telling us that McLeish is going to be sacked immediately following the match against Norwich City. Whether it's being said by a player agent who chooses to describe his amazing insider knowledge to his tens of followers or someone who thinks he's some kind of superhero and dubs himself "Mystery Man", these accounts have been nothing but wrong since day one of their pointless existence.
You might recall most of these insiders told us that McLeish was never going to be the choice at Villa. It was certainly going to be David Moyes. Or Roberto Martinez. Everyone wants to know what's happening before it happens because we're all scared. We're afraid that Alex McLeish is going to stay on as manager and make next season just as unbearable and painful as the last. We're afraid that he's not only going to stay but that he's going to make more inspiring player acquisitions such as Alan Hutton to help make this club even more unlikable than it already is. We're afraid that he's going to be allowed to make his mark felt for even longer than it already will be. This was, by wins, losses and draws, the worst season Aston Villa has ever had at the Premier League level. No supporter wants to see them tempt fate and end up paying for it with at least one season in the Championship.
While these fake insider nobodies will tell you what you want to hear, the only people that can decide the future of the club are Randy Lerner and Paul Faulkner. They have done a horrendous job recently of making Aston Villa the club that we all wish it was. Given the well documented lack of cash flow and the absurdly large payout due to Alex McLeish were he sacked in the first year of a three-year contract, how can anyone expect him to be sent packing? Either Lerner and Co. spend the money on buying out McLeish or they keep him and spend the money trying to make sure he has enough quality not to see a repeat of this past season. It can't be both. Sure, he can resign and forfeit the rest of his deal but knowing he's not going to get another job of this magnitude again, why would he do that?
It must be nice to be an anonymous insider who can tweet about wonderful fairy tales about the end of the bad man's reign at Villa Park without any thought of consequence or how real life works. The rest of us have to sort out what's really going on and be sensible about things. The club is in deep trouble. Some Twitter insider isn't going to come along and make it all better. The hole has been dug and it is getting deeper by the day. There isn't enough cement to fill it. The damage has been done.