What can Aston Villa fans learn as two more chances to defy the odds are wasted in flat defeats, fans unite their voices against the hierarchy and many leave Villa Park in protest on the years of mismanagement they have suffered?
CONCEDING FIRST = NOT GOOD
Garde may well have tweaked the formation and had a game plan to face Stoke and Everton, but once Villa concede, the plan has to go out of the window as the “here we go again” sentiment sinks in.
The rash challenge by Westwood to give up the penalty against Stoke might as well have been followed by the final whistle. Stoke’s second goal was ridiculous and yes, Villa pulled one back but it clearly shouldn’t have been given for the clear handball in the build up. It also came with 12 minutes to go and Stoke had been coasting since Arnautovic chested in his second as Bunn lay captured like one of Spiderman’s victims in the back of the net (and Lescott watched on like Peter Parker… all that was missing was his camera).
Again, Garde changed things slightly for Everton but once the Toffees scored in the 4th and 29th minute (both well taken but largely unopposed shots) it was all over as any game plan was irrelevant.
Hutton earned a booking for wasting time against Stoke, holding the ball for a throw for about half-an-hour to ensure that Villa would start the second half at 0-0. It would have been worth the yellow card if Villa could have come out and scored. But there’s that “if”.
BACUNA = BULLETPROOF
If there was ever a case for putting in the kids, it’s Leandro Bacuna. Singled out by Garde after the Liverpool farce, he started – and finished – against Stoke and Everton at the expense of Andre Green or Jordan Lyden who, it might seem to those outside looking in, are knocking on the first team door the loudest.
If Garde’s best XI includes Bacuna, who to be kind to his contributions since he joined the club is “raw”, that says Garde really doesn’t fancy the kids who are knocking on the first team door that much and also that the lack of depth in this squad will only get worse after relegation when the few players that can genuinely raise some money for the club in summer are sold and their replacements found in League One.
WALK OUT, WITH HOPE IN YOUR HEARTS
The walk-out on the 74th minute probably achieved its aim – the club couldn’t ignore it at least. To be fair at 0-3 down to an Everton team who had been playing keep-away since their early goal, and when missing a chance got several more to make up for it, fans would have been drifting out soon afterwards anyway.
We’re all fans. As this column is prone to saying, supporting your team is not a competition. But the sentiment that doing something rather than doing nothing works here.
IT GETS WORSE
Yes, it’s still possible Villa can turn it around and stay up. And until relegation is confirmed that should be remembered.
But what are fans seeing that is encouraging them to believe a sudden turnaround in form is on the horizon? Is there a player coming back from injury that can make a difference?
Certainly Grealish and Traore could have made contributions and made more chances for the likes of long-forgotten Kozak and lumbering Gestede but that would also need a change in philosophy from Garde and, it has to be said, some more uncultured graft. With no new players arriving, no faith in the kids on the fringe, a best XI that includes Bacuna, defensive frailties everywhere you look, no legitimate score-every-week goal threats and a sinking feeling that the team is reminded of by conceding first week after week, fans can see where the media speculation of a double-relegation is coming from.
Manchester City and Spurs are next. It doesn’t matter what’s put in front of Villa any more. They have to do something different to win as many of the ten remaining games as possible regardless of who they are against. Bournemouth at home or Arsenal away have to be seen as desperate, last-gasp chances to get three points.
Follow Adam Keeble on Twitter @keebo00
Help reward our writers for their excellent work, for they starve while Media Muppets go well fed by writing dross and clickbait. Support decent writing by becoming a MOMS patron here