PR embarrassments and the stench of relegation

 

So, did you ever think you’d see the day that Swansea City put four goals past Villa? I can’t quite bring myself to call it a new low given that Fulham and Palace have done the double over us, that we lost 1-4 at home to Stoke, that we were dumped out of the FA Cup at home by Sheffield United (I’ll stop there, we’ve all got things to do), but it has made our situation a whole lot worse. Here’s a look back at the Bad and the Ugly (and an attempt to find some Good) from the Liberty Stadium on Saturday.

 

The Good

Villa were at least in the game for a while, and there was a brief period of the match where I began to doubt my own pessimism. Set myself up for a bit of a fall there, won’t be doing it again.

Marc Albrighton continued his trend of recent weeks of being Villa’s liveliest player by some distance, and his ball in for Gabby Agbonlahor’s first goal since New Year’s Day was superb, although virtually every other cross he put in during the game was either poor or blocked. Villa’s most enthusiastic player he may be, but he doesn’t half lack refinement. Still, a new contract for him in the summer looks a requirement.

As with Villa’s season as a whole, the main saving grace from the Swansea game and its aftermath is that there are (just about) three teams worse than us in the league this season. Sunderland may well save themselves but Cardiff and Norwich should be as good as gone, and Hull’s late show at the Cottage may well have knocked the stuffing out of Fulham. So we should survive, albeit on the back of other teams’ failings rather than our own successes.

 

The Bad

I wish someone would tell our manager and players that we could actually do the job ourselves by winning another game, mind.

Hull at home next week strikes fear into the heart, which is one of the most depressing sentences I’ve ever written. Shane Long loves a goal against Villa, and we’ll probably put it on a plate for him next weekend.

Back on the Swansea game, the defending for the first and third goals was abysmal; utterly static for Bony’s opener and mass ball-watching for the third, for which Pablo Hernandez looked like he could have beaten every Villa player in the box before scoring if he’d fancied. Jonjo Shelvey’s goal, although incredible, was also so, so avoidable.

One noticeable thing that had been missing from our performance was a clumsy Nathan Baker challenge resulting in a goal for the opposition, so it was nice to see that put right with the penalty.

The midfield offers the defence no protection whatsoever whilst also failing to create even a fraction of the opportunities necessary for our attack. Villa have scored just seven times in the nine games the Christian Benteke has missed this season, and with 36 goals in 35 games this season we’ve found the net less than both Sunderland and Fulham.

 

The Ugly

Villa now have the worst form in the league over the last six matches, with the dour but resolute draw at home to Southampton last weekend producing our only point from the last possible eighteen. In those six matches Villa have netted four times whilst conceding fifteen.

This season has seen not only the highest number of home defeats in a single season in the club’s history but also the highest number of Premier League defeats in a single season.

During the post-match press conference the cogs in the club’s frankly embarrassing PR machine just kept on turning. Lambert rolled out his trademark “you can’t fault the lads’ effort, they gave it their all” again.

Although you have to credit his ability keep a straight face, you can’t help but feel that some acknowledgement that, actually, the fight that some of the other teams in trouble have shown in recent weeks in comparison to Villa suggests that is not actually true. Even if it was, effort alone is sometimes not good enough. Quality helps, and so does any hint whatsoever of tactical nous from the manager.

Lambert’s repeated spiel – one that could almost have been pre-recorded before the season started for all the insight it gives – has at least dropped the thoroughly unconvincing “we’ll be fine” in light of the fact that, actually, we might not, but Lambert still seems to refuse to acknowledge the fact that we are running unforgivably close this season.

As if our displays on the pitch weren’t embarrassing enough, Lambert, Lerner, Faulkner and co. have managed to prove in recent weeks that the fans really are bottom of the pile. As if bland interviews and club statements that should have cleared up the situation for the fans but actually just added to the confusion and ill-feeling weren’t enough, we have to endure repeated condescension in being told that the club need our support.

We give the club our support (the team should count themselves lucky to have any fans at their games at all anymore, but Villa’s allocation at Swansea was one of the largest that had been at the Liberty all season), and actually the issue is that support is not rewarded or reciprocated in the slightest by either the players’ performances or the words or actions of the club staff.

Mark Lawrenson said on Match of the Day 2 Extra (on which all three guests tipped Villa to go down) that the club have “the stench of relegation”, and though I’m loathe to, it’s hard not to agree with him.

All we can hope for in the time being is a win over Hull to assure safety. After that at least some heads must roll, and a mass clearout of both playing and backroom staff wouldn’t be a bad idea.

Strip it back, rebuild and bring back the desire and pride that used to be so plain to see but which have both been so conspicuously lacking in recent seasons. Easier said than done, but my word, we don’t half need it.

 

Follow MOMS on Twitter – @oldmansaid

Follow Tom on Twitter @tdnightingale

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3 COMMENTS

  1. i caught the second half and at times we knocked the ball about well,, but first goal offside,, second a wonderstrike,,, 3rd good goal,, and fourth a penalty in last minute which would often not be awarded

    sometimes the luck goes against you,,,, this was one of those games,,,

    combine this with the injuries we have had this season, fall out with players and lack of form from the front 3

    and the total lack of impact from any of the new signings bar bacuna for what ever reason and its no

    wonder we are where we are

    paul lambert some time ago was looking up at southampton and trying to catch them,,, i said at the time

    this was over the top as we are a bottom 5 team,,, we cant win at home period,,, and can only beat teams

    away who go for it leaving us to hit on the break

    if teams play like swansea and sit back and give us posetion ,,,, they just wait for us to open up and wham

    easy peasy,,,

    no one can doubt the fast counter attacking football we can play is fantastic and great to watch,,, but that

    can be only one part of the game,, i look at lambert and think surely you must have more tactical nouse

    than is being shown,,, truth is he sets the team up to play the only way we can get a result,, conseed

    possetion and hit on the break which is making for dreadfull football against the bottom 13 ish teams as you

    expect the top teams to dominate you

    it must be awful to play,, constantly being outplayed with no creativity,, no wonder players are loosing form

    the problems come from learner,,, he sets the rules,,, and lambert has no option but to follow

  2. Good grief, you watched a different game to me re Albrighton’s crosses.
    Some were sublime and a decent striker would have got a hat trick!
    Unfortunately we had Gabby and Wiemann up top and they’re so out of form, it’s just a joke.

  3. Can’t disagree with a single word you say. After 55 years of support, we are now lower, in my view, than when we went into the third division. At least we had players who fought for the shirt, rather than fight for who has the best car!!!

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