Former Aston Villa boss Brian Little fears for his old club.
Little, who spent his entire playing career at the club and led Villa to Coca-Cola Cup triumph in 1996, reckons it will take a huge effort to get the club back to where they were before Gerard Houllier's ill-fated season in charge.
Little said: "Last summer was obviously a turning point for the club - Martin [O'Neill] had done a great job and the club had re-established itself among the top six or seven.
"Since he left, it has been very difficult for them.
"The team are capable of being competitive but they need a manager in there to steady the ship. There must be a lot of people who want that job - there has to be."
But Little knows the club will have to break the bank to challenge the big four.
He also told the Sunday Mirror: "The top four is the stumbling block.
"If you're not in that little group and a player has the ability to get into a top-four club, somewhere along the line you lose them."