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By ESPN Staff
Jul 19, 2006

Gregory: Deadly Doug should step down

Former Aston Villa manager John Gregory believes the ongoing unrest at the club will not end until chairman Doug Ellis finally quits.

A statement released on Friday, supposedly from the first team squad, criticised Ellis and the club's spending policy.

Gregory has himself accused Ellis of a lack of ambition that has prevented Villa from becoming a Premiership force.

'Doug's time as chairman has been questioned,' remarked Gregory, who was in charge at Villa Park between 1998-2002.

'I questioned it in my time there, as did Graham Taylor. Now David O'Leary might be asking himself whether the chairman is prepared to push Villa up to where they belong.

'But Doug has always watched the pennies. He prides himself on the club being run on a very secure financial footing.

'He has spent money, but in taking that next step, you wanted him to take a financial gamble and push the club that little bit further and drive it on,' Gregory told Sky Sports News.

'That is what made me walk away. I felt they didn't quite have that ambition to really stick their neck out and become a top-four, top-five club in the country.

'In my opinion he should have stepped down three or four seasons ago and allowed somebody younger with more enthusiasm, ambition and drive to chair the club and push them in the right direction.

'Unfortunately, until Doug Ellis does that I think this is the kind of scenario that will continue to rear its ugly head from time to time.'

Another finger of suspicion has been aimed in the direction of boss O'Leary, with questions raised as to whether he was involved in what seemingly transpired at the training ground on Friday.

If a three-man inquiry panel set up to discover the truth behind the statement discover the 48-year-old Irishman played any part, it is likely Ellis will bring O'Leary's three-year reign to an end.

Another former Villa manager Ron Atkinson, at the helm between 1991-94, feels O'Leary needs to be squeaky clean in the matter.

'It's a weird and wonderful thing to be going into the season with this political background,' said Atkinson.

'But what David O'Leary has to be sure of is that he is whiter than white and has had no part of it.

'If he has then it puts him on the backfoot.'

Atkinson has slated the current turmoil as 'a farce', but reckons it could even work to the players' advantage.

In searching for a silver lining, Atkinson added: 'It might rally the players.

'It could be a kick up the backside, and the players need that because they have been pretty abject over the last couple of years.

'They have to start looking at themselves because there are some decent players there, yet they haven't performed to anything like the level they should have done.

'But what goes on behind the scenes is not their concern. They should be getting on with preparing for pre-season and give a better account of themselves next season.'