Paul Merson is an ex-player and remains a fan of Aston Villa.

Often springing to their side on various issues, a good number of times he has had a go at Newcastle United, usually claiming that they are a far bigger club than the Magpies.

Ahead of the trip to Newcastle, Paul Merson has came up with an interesting argument as to why Villa are only five places and six points above the relegation zone, rather than competing for promotion.

The pundit claims that the heart of the problem has been players arriving from much smaller clubs and then becoming intimidated by the demands of playing for such a huge club as Villa.

Merson is a big fan of Steve Bruce but thinks now that it is a much tougher job for him than the new manager thought it was going to be.

Paul Merson says that the heart of the problem is that Villa are buying players who are used to playing ‘under seven or eight thousand’ and then ‘cannot handle it’ when playing in front of ‘at least thirty thousand’ at Villa Park.

Never one to bother too much with facts when making his arguments, Paul Merson is as usual seemingly clutching at very thin straws.

The players recruited since relegation have been signed from, West Brom, Crystal Palace, Nottingham Forest, Bournemouth, FC Basel, Swansea, Middlesbrough, Bristol City, Barnsley, Brentford, Reading, Leicester and Fulham.

None of those clubs get under seven or eight thousand and of course many of them get similar crowds to Villa. With the ones in the Premier League obviously playing regularly every other week away against clubs with higher crowds than Villa.

With Villa’s crowds plummeting (twenty six thousand last time), results have hardly improved, the last two home games seeing defeats to Barnsley and Ipswich.

Let’s hope the fear of big crowds continues on Monday night, when Villa’s players will be playing in front of around twice as many fans as they are used to at Villa Park.

The Merson argument also doesn’t explain why the likes of Lascelles, Darlow, Shelvey, Ritchie, Hayden and others are thriving playing in front of many more people than they did at their last clubs.

Plus of course Ciaran Clark

Paul Merson speaking to Talksport:

“I worry for Villa.

“I’m a massive fan of Steve Bruce and when he got the job I thought…brilliant, he’ll sort this out.

“I think though that there is a lot more to do than what he thought.

“You go and buy players who have played for lesser teams and have played under smaller crowds, you have it at Portsmouth as well,

“Then they go and sign for someone like Portsmouth who get 16,000 when these players have played under two thousand.

“They cannot handle it and that is the problem you are having at Aston Villa.              

“They are buying players that have played under seven or eight thousand, all of a sudden you turn up at Villa, it’s thirty thousand at least, they cannot handle it and are a bag of nerves.

“If they are not one up inside the first 20 minutes, the crowd get restless, the players start to melt and all of a sudden they start getting picked off for fun.”