The dangers of wearing rose-tinted specs around Villa Park at the moment
There’s a mixed bag of opinion about Aston Villa at the moment, ranging from the Lambert and Lerner Out crowd to talk of Lambert getting a new contract and the team being comfortable in mid-table. All of it is wrong to some degree.
Yes, there are some impatient pessimists and they probably send the earnest Villa supporter round the bend with their moaning, but likewise, so do the blind faith fans who trust implicitly everything those who run the club do.
At MOMS we like to pose questions because we still have ambition for the club and consider Aston Villa as a club that used to occasionally challenge for the league, were in the conversation when it came to Europe and were capable of winning the odd cup. Unfortunately, when we look at the facts of recent form and what lays ahead through the eyes of realism, a certain pessimism seems mutually inclusive.
A new contract for an ‘excellent manager’?
The simple answer to whether Lambert can be deemed an ‘excellent manager’ at this level is we don’t know yet. Of course, if you judged him on the results under his reign so far, in light of other club’s sackings, that would be a clear case for his removal. But having to turn this club around, he was expected to make a rocky start (although perhaps not this rocky!) At Norwich, he did well in terms of lower league promotions, but he’s only had two completed seasons in the Premier League. In both he was in building new Premier League teams. Norwich was a championship team transitioning into a Premier League one, while at Villa, he gutted the team from scratch. Those with any patience, know that the real evidence to his ability will lay in his third season. We’ve been told it’s a long-term plan, and into a third season, you’d hope to be seeing some fruits of that. First of all, Lambert has to get to that third season, so before there’s any talk of a new contract, let’s wait until he guarantees Villa will be playing in the Premier League first.
But Villa are currently comfortably mid-table…
Aston Villa being comfortably mid-table is a myth. Villa are NOT safe from relegation at all! The home lose against West Ham put a big dent in that. If Villa had lost against the Baggies, after being 2-0 down, they would currently be 17th place and only out of the relegation zone on goal difference. That’s how close it is and that’s how big that win against the Baggies was.
Home form is relegation form
On current form (the last six games) Villa have the worst home record in the Premier League and the second worst after Fulham, in terms of the whole season. What cannot be stressed enough is, if this form does not pick up, Villa will more than likely drop into the Championship. ‘Oh, but our away form will save us’, I hear you cry. Will it?
Fading away form
Villa’s away form is starting to fade. On current form (last six), Villa have the league’s 11th best away form, which is fine only if your home form is average too. Villa have lost three out of their last six away games. In the first third of the season, our away from was Top 4 standard, but not anymore. Luckily, there are six teams in the league that have lost four to six of their last six away games.
Villa are being run down by the guilt-edge relegation candidates
Sunderland, West Ham and Crystal Palace have all, during the course of the season, been considered dead and buried. Well, those three teams lay 7th, 8th, and 9th in the current form league. All of them are within three points of Villa.
More points needed for survival
This season it’s going to be a real ‘Relegation Battle Royale’, with a lot more than the standard four or five teams involved. Eight teams are currently within four points off the relegation zone and then add to them, the three teams in it. No team has been cut adrift yet, and all are capable of getting points off the top teams, as Norwich and Fulham did against the Manchester clubs this weekend. Potentially more than 40 points will be needed. It’s important for Villa to get as many points in the next three games as possible.
Positive opportunity for Villa
Now, I don’t want to leave you on a downer, so here’s some hopeful news. Villa’s next two opponents Cardiff and Newcastle, are two of the bottom three in the current form table. Then after them, direct relegation rival Norwich and their superstar player Wes Hoolahan, are also below Villa in current form.
If Lambert wants to avoid a relegation battle stress, now is the time to do it. Two wins would be a huge help and leave Villa roughly three more wins from safety. Fingers crossed. UTV