Randy Lerner had taken over at Villa Park in 2006 and soon began to pump money into the club to in a bid to possibly reach the Europa League or, as it was called back then, the Uefa Cup.
It was all going well; Villa brought in the likes of Ashley Young, James Milner and Stewart Downing (He was good once, honest!) as the club looked at assembling a squad that could push for the top 6 at the very least and with it, potentially locking horns with Europe's elite.
|SIGNING: Downing was a wanted man (Zimbio)|
They came close under O'Neill's guidance; during his four year tenure at Villa Park, he achieved a creditable 11th place finish (first season) before guiding the club to a trio of sixth place endings, thus sending the club on a European tour to the likes of Hamburg, Amsterdam and Prague. The future was looking very bright.
|Curtis Davies (R) takes on CSKA Moscow's Vagner Love (L) (Zimbio)|
Their stars soon began departing; Milner eventually signed for Manchester City soon after O'Neill left and the following summer saw wingers, Young and Downing leave for the north-west; signing for Manchester United and Liverpool respectively.
|Young and Milner moved on (WhoAteAllThePies)|
Next up was Alex McLeish. Big 'Eck had managed to relegate arch rivals, Birmingham to the Championship, despite winning the Carling Cup. The appointment of the former Scotland manager was lambasted by Villa fans and they were never on side for his solitary season (finishing 16th) and he was soon relieved of his duties. During this campaign, Villa had the poorest home record in their history, gaining just 19 points out of a potential 57.
And then, came the appointment of Paul Lambert. Another Scotsman placed in charge of first team affairs and, so far, it's been another disappointing season. The club spent a lot of time and money pursuing Lambert in the summer before finally getting their man from Norwich City.
|Lambert's side have been disappointing (SportsMole)|
With no spine of the team and little experience, you struggle to see how the club can survive. And the worst part? The Championship is a very difficult league to get out of.
|BENT-CH WARMER: Star striker (L) and Stephen Ireland (R) (London24)|