Defeat at Norwich was last straw in McLeish's reign at Aston Villa

Defeat at Norwich was last straw in McLeish's reign at Aston Villa

Aston Villa owner Randy Lerner finally sacked Alex McLeish following the 2-0 loss at Carrow Road on Sunday.  McLeish was called in for a meeting on Monday morning,the same meeting was scheduled for later in the week.  Goals from Simeon Jackson and Grant Holt were enough to add to Aston Villa’s season of woe.

Aston Villa fans turned out in fancy dress for the final game of the Barclays Premier League 2011/2012 and it was Carlos Cuellar’s final game for Villa after his contract was not extended.  The day was dubbed “King Carlos Day” curly wigs and Spanish flags where aloft.

Villa have endured a miserable season and it did not seem as the relief of securing their Premier League survival had lifted any of the weight off of their shoulders. Norwich dominated the early exchanges and were quick to take advantage of the chances they carved out.

Bradley Johnson curled a free-kick in from the left-hand side which Holt bundled home – with the help of his shoulder – at the far post to give the Canaries the lead.

Villa were able to keep possession with relative ease but lacked the pace and urgency that Paul Lambert’s team displayed from the off. Shay Given did superbly to deny Jonny Howson when the midfielder curled a shot towards goal from 20 yards.

Given also stopped Simon Lappin’s free kick before Jackson beat him to the rebound to double the Canaries’ lead. The Canadian striker latched on to Cuellar’s poor header and tapped in the rebound from close range after his first effort had been saved.

Elliott Bennett went close with two further shots before half-time as Villa’s performance deteriorated drastically, with McLeish cutting a despondent figure on the touch-line.

Barry Bannan was introduced at the break as McLeish looked to inject some attacking spark into his team by switching to a 4-2-3-1 formation. The early signs were positive – Stephen Ireland was denied by John Ruddy from 20 yards before the Norwich goalkeeper did well to turn away Heskey’s deflected shot.

Norwich were quick, however to regain their grip on the game. Ireland and Heskey were left to chase shadows as Wes Hoolahan volleyed just over the bar after Elliott Bennett’s cross from the right.

The Irishman turned supplier to set up Kyle Naughton for a shot that Given saved before the goalkeeper also stopped Ryan Bennett’s header.

Given had to be at his best to prevent the lively Jackson from doubling his tally after 65 minutes. Cutting inside on the edge of the box, the former Gillingham man rifled a low shot that was tipped just wide.

At the other end, Ruddy was impressively alert. Largely untested throughout, he nevertheless was sharp enough to push Agbonlahor’s shot on to the post after the striker had cut inside from the left.

Elliott Bennett had proved a handful all afternoon and shot just over the crossbar on his weaker left foot following the impressive Howson’s through ball as the Norwich chances continued to rain.

The Canaries’ victory took them above Sunderland and Swansea to 12th in the table as they concluded a dream return to the top flight.

The possession stats showed Norwich’s dominance showed with comparisons Norwich 58.9% and Aston Villa 41.1%.  Norwich attempted 515 attempted passes and were accurate on 445 passes achieving 86% success rate.  Aston Villa on the other hand attempted 343 passes and were accurate on 268 passes achieving 78% success rate.

Shay Given was the busier of the two goalkeepers pulling off some impressive saves, Given also had to take 15 goal kicks but only 9 were accurate.

The 2011/2012 season stats make bleak reading under Aston Villa only achieving 9 clean sheets in 38 games.  Aston  Villa defence leaked 53 goals and only been able to find the net on 37.

Aston Villa 2011/2012 home attendances have dropped by 9% to 33,873 compared to Aston Villa’s 2010/2011 home attendance of 37,194.

Regardless of Aston Villa’s appointment of Alex McLeish, Villa fans have followed the team continuously the length of the country selling 34,428 tickets over 19 games. In 2010/2011 season Aston Villa’s away attendance was 34,521.

Villa Win/Loss/Draw Percentages for 2011/12

Win = 18.42%

Lose  = 36.84%

Draw 44.74%