Eight games without a win for Villa, a 15-year low attendance and another Villa performance offering very little going forward (one shot on target), but still it’s not all bad news at Villa Park. Here’s five reasons as an Aston Villa fan to be cheerful…
1. Okore Factor
In Lambert’s second summer transfer window the standout buy was Jores Okore. If he lived up to his billing as an athletic and pacy international class centre-back, he had the potential to be as important to the defence as the signing of Christian Benteke was to the attack. Injury to the Dane a mere handful of games into his Villa career deprived supporters of seeing potentially the biggest improvement to the team last season.
Over a year later, with the defender seemingly 5th in the centre-back pecking order, if Villa are to kick-on in the second-half of this season (and if Vlaar buggers off in the January window) Okore could be pivotal to Villa’s ambition. And in the worst case scenario, the difference between Villa staying up and not. His performance against Southampton was encouraging to say the least. We wish him well.
2. New Solidity?
While on the subject of centre-backs, Ciaran Clark deserves a hearty pat on the back for a spirited top-notch display against the Saints alongside Okore.
Certain sections of the Villa support have given both him and Baker a rough ride in recent seasons, often it’s understandable, as a defender’s mistakes often result in an opposition goal, while further up the field mistakes tend not to carry such consequences.
With Villa seeming to only sign injury-prone centre-backs, Clark and Baker have also often been thrown in the deep end somewhat. Yes, they have been guilty of ball-watching and losing their men at times, but when they are being forced to play under the kosh for such long periods of matches due to Villa’s counter-attacking ‘tactics’ mistakes from such pressure are almost inevitable. Clark, Baker and Okore are all in their early 20’s, so they are all far from the finished article. Patience will be needed, along with better support from the midfield. *Cough cough* Mr Sanchez.
3. No Excuses Now For Lambert
Lambert’s reputation from his Norwich days of adventurous attacking football is but a distant memory. The excuses of injuries and tough fixtures have provided the Villa boss with some cover as his terrible record continues and Villa supporter apathy reaches a new high.
Expect apathy to be replaced with anger soon if results don’t go Villa’s way against the likes of Burnley, Crystal Palace, Leicester and West Brom. Lambert can’t afford to go into double figures of games without a win or the calls for his head will reach fever pitch.
Certainly MOMS for one will be picking up the pitchfork from the garden shed to join the protest, if Lambo drags Villa into the mire any further.
4. Supporter’s Voice
The 21st minute supporter tribute applause was a success and heart warming on a chilly night. Aside from it being a tribute, it was also an example of supporters still have a voice if they want it. Some supporters complain that the club doesn’t listen, it’s not necessarily true. First of all, you have to actually use your voice for it to be heard.
One thing is for sure, the time for louder voices is coming soon, as the club cannot be allowed to limp along as it has been doing under Lerner and Lambert. Both are in the last chance saloon in the eyes of supporters and if they don’t show signs of improvement in the next month, then it’s time for supporters to make their voices heard big style.
Enough is enough.
5. MOMS Wins!
MOMS picked up the judges award for the Best Established Football Blog at the recent Football Blog Awards at the National Football Museum in Manchester. The only Villa-related win since September. The Aston Villa programme on Monday night for the Southampton game ran the following shout out, which was nice to see…
MOMS still hasn’t heard back from the awards organisers since our email to them the night before the awards and our resulting non-attendance (Birmingham Mail article about it). We’re still patiently waiting to receive the award in the post. Come on guys, before Christmas please! UTV