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Johnny should have a statue; Your Shout.

I AND many thousands of Villa supporters were saddened to hear of the death of Villa legend Johnny Dixon.

Here was a player who was the epitome of sportsmanship on the field and a true gentleman off it.

I was privileged to see Johnny play in his heyday of the 50s and there was no prouder captain as he held aloft the FA Cup in 1957.

Even in his middle age he would regularly turn out with the Villa Old Stars to raise money for good causes and could still even then show the youngsters the sublime skills that had graced Villa Park for 17 years.

In his last few years I would fondly see him out shopping with his family in Sutton Coldfield but even after all those years he seemed to have such a presence that I felt I just could not introduce myself to thank him for the pleasure he had given us Villa fans all those years ago.

If ever a footballer deserved a statue to be erected at Villa Park in his memory it is Johnny Dixon and I sincerely hope Mr Lerner will respond accordingly.

M JONES, Great Barr

I MUST respond to K Jones' blinkered view (Your Shout, January 19) - he clearly hasn't seen all 27 games this season like I have.

Having followed Blues for 30 years, there have been many ups and downs but this season's football has been dire.

Forget the off-the-field problems with the board - the football is driving people away as well.

People will pay good money to watch quality entertainment, whatever the item.

But we appear to be getting worse.

In the last four home games we have hardly had a shot and we have been outplayed by teams who are all better than us.

The only reason we are still third in the league is because the rest are poor and don't have any quality strikers to finish us off when they dominate.

This is Alex McLeish's team and his fault. That is why I have become a moaner.

As for Steve Bruce, he was the best manager we had had in years. He did the best anyone could with such limited funds.

The board must cringe now with Wigan seventh in the Premier League and multi-million pound players like Zaki, Valencia and Palacios all bought for nearly nothing. Really negative Bruce, yeah!

I won't be going away with Blues any more this season and I won't renew my season ticket if this rubbish continues.

I SHEPHERD, Bromsgrove

IF all fans got off the players' backs at Blues then they wouldn't be so scared to play.

Stop the booing, leave the manager and the board alone and get behind them and support us back to promotion.

K HARBORNE, Smethwick

WITH the signing of Emile Heskey I fail to see how much-needed variety in our play is to be achieved.

John Carew and Heskey will seldom, if ever, play in the same team and our long-ball game will only be confirmed.

Gareth Barry needs help in the middle of the park with the need for some real quality to be added.

I would also ask where does this leave our earlier pounds 4million star signing, Marlon Harewood?

Will he even get a game in the 'stiffs'?

AVFCONWARDANDUPWARD, via email

MY SYMPATHIES to the 1,400 fans who witnessed Blues' latest sub-standard performance at Blackpool.

Blues may have one of the strongest squads on paper but the trouble is, games are decided on the pitch.

Third place, despite many poor performances, is not disastrous yet but it's becoming obvious that with Alex McLeish's odd team choices, tactics and his lack of motivational skills we will struggle to go back up, especially if via the play-offs.

The board must not delay too long. Six points from the Derby and Sheffield games or it's probably time for Alex to go.

D RAWLINS, Cotteridge

IT SEEMS like poetic justice for DJ Campbell to score one of the goals for Blackpool on Saturday.

He finished up top scorer behind Nicolas Bendtner when Blues got promoted a couple of years ago, including two against Newcastle in the FA Cup, but was considered surplus to requirements when the new season started.

He always reminded me of Theo Walcott at Arsenal but I think he had a better technique.

Walcott is now playing for England - maybe if we'd had him in the team we wouldn't be where we are now?

N WALKER, Solihull

DON'T tell me, losing at Blackpool was just the "kick up the backside" the Blues players needed to remind the newcomers that they are there to win promotion to the Premiership, not stave off relegation.

Unfortunately, the other eight teams also trying, and it seems succeeding, are going all out every game, on the pitch, not playing the matches on the back of the evening newspaper.

R MOORE, Kings Norton

WITH Martin Laursen out of action for two months I would have thought a centre-half is a must.

Having read Micah Richards is available for pounds 7million the answer is staring us in the face.

Zat Knight is never Premier League quality.

D POWERS, Monkspath

ANOTHER poor performance from the Villa boys against Doncaster, probably the worst so far this season.

From the minute the first ball was kicked it never looked like like Villa would score.

Why does Martin O'Neill have two strikers on the bench who could possibly change the game and gives neither of them a chance?

This results in a 0-0 draw and a replay, something Villa needed like a hole in the head.

So far this season many of the Villa players haven't had the recognition they deserve and my ideal player to fit in this category would be Luke Young, who has had a fantastic season so far.

He was replaced by Nicky Shorey for this game and I guess this will be the last we see of him unless O'Neill has another moment of madness.

Shorey, again, was woeful and will continue to keep the bench warm until another club comes in with a sensible offer for him. Hurry back Bouma.

None of the Villa players gave convincing performances and Doncaster certainly deserved a replay.

There is still time to buy quality players, Martin, but no more panic buys like you did on the 23.1.09.

J BISSELL, Yardley

LET'S get real - Heskey will do us a job, he is strong and a good player but at pounds 3.5million he is totally overpriced. Unfortunately, Martin O'Neill is paying the price for under-investment from the past 15 years.

We need another three or four top-notch players to be a major force.

R BROWN, Hall Green

WELL done the Mail. Saturday's story about Beau Brummie's new life was hilarious and a brilliant break from all the grim and depressing news the paper normally has to feature.

Let's hope Beau feels he can come and lead the singing at the match tomorrow.

Failing that, I wonder if Barry Fry could stand in?

G APLIN, Kings Heath

SORRY people but Blues just have not got what it takes to get out of this league.

If you're one of those dreamers who think different your bubble is about to burst.

Big Eck? More like flippin' eck.

He has created a team of talented players, there's no doubt, but there is no spirit and sometimes no desire.

This is a tough league and it requires guts, passion, spirit and desire before talent. Alex McLeish has talent in the squad but not all of them seem to have the other requirements.

So where do we go from here?

As it stands this present team of players will struggle to make the dreaded play-offs (which we all know is anybody's for the taking), losing yet another opportunity to take this league by the scruff of its neck by being beaten by the mighty Blackpool.

We are struggling to make the grade against teams being outfought by our rivals.

If we carry on like this McLeish must go. Harsh? I think not.

We started the campaign exactly the way we should have but week upon week have steadily got worse.

This management team has got to be on thin ice. Under their charge we are slowly sinking and teams behind us are growing in confidence against us.

So if the board do read these columns my statement to them is simple: give Big Eck so much rope but don't let him hang us.

We are all running out of games and patience.

PEACHES, via email

CAPTION(S):

Skipper Johnny Dixon holds aloft the FA Cup after Villa's victory in 1957.; Under pressure: Alex McLeish.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jan 27, 2009
Words:1452
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