January 2013 was the month to define Villa’s season on-and-off the field. Despite the worst start to a season in living memory, Villa had the chance to spin the whole season around in the space of four weeks.
They were one step away from Wembley in the dream semi-final draw against Division Two Bradford City and they also faced lower opposition in the FA Cup. Both games were bankers.
After a run of playing difficult teams over Christmas, suddenly there were points up for grabs in the league too; including key home games against potential relegation rivals Southampton and Newcastle. Just winning those two games would see Villa sitting above the relegation pack come the end of the month.
In short, on the pitch, January could be the pivotal month that suddenly saw Paul Lambert’s revolution cranked up and raring to go, after a somewhat tepid start.
January Results Calamity
Jan 1 – Swansea 2 Aston Villa 2
Jan 5 – Aston Villa 2 Ipswich 1
Jan 8 – Bradford 3 Aston Villa 1
Jan 12 – Aston Villa 0 Southampton 1
Jan 19 – West Brom 2 Aston Villa 2
Jan 22 – Aston Villa 2 Bradford City 1
Jan 25 – Millwall 2-1 Aston Villa
Jan 29 – Aston Villa 1 Newcastle 2
To be frank the above results couldn’t be much worse. On paper there’s two decent away points at Swansea and West Bromich, but those are games Villa should have closed out, having led up to the dying minutes in both.
Granted Villa had to play eight games in the month, but to get two points from one of Villa’s easiest months in terms of league opponents is a wasted opportunity. That’s two points from the last available 21 since Villa’s last win.
With three consecutive home losses to relegation candidates in Wigan, Southampton and Newcastle; it’s the type of sequence that glares back at the end of season as a reason a team was relegated.
I’m not going to dwell on the semi-final farce.
Off-the-field, Villa had four weeks to do the necessary business to fill the obvious deficiencies in the team; notably a porous defence and light-weight midfield.
Why have they waited until the last couple of days of the window to act though? Even buying half-way through the window could have had a big effect.
Villa have had three league games since the 12th January and collected one point. If they bought those two key positions and had the Sissoko-effect ala Newcastle, we could have been three or four points better off with our relegation rivals losing points in the bargain.
While Aston Villa’s first acquisition the 22-yr-old defensive midfielder player Yacouba Sylla was just the position we needed more power and steel in, his French Division Two and single French Under-21 cap credentials don’t inspire confidence that he can transform a flailing team. He would need to fast-track and perform beyond all expectation to make the necessary impact.
With Dunne’s continuous false recovery dawn ending the prospect of Villa having a battle-harden experienced head in the back-line, a solid capture at centre-back was also essential. Surely, Villa should have prepped a centre back for January? Apparently not. Instead, the attacking midfield loan signing of on-and-off Spurs B-lister Simon Dawkins. Will he save us? Probably not.
From entering the year with a faint optimism of fresh start…it could not have turned out any worse.
It’s sad to say this, but as things stand, Villa’s survival prospects at the moment depend on how much your heart rules your head. After four wins in the first 24 games, Villa need six from 14 to survive. That’s going from a 16.7% win ratio to 43% win ratio. It’s hard to see it happening.
Brace yourself, because Villa’s situation after a terrible January has just got a whole lot of serious.
Follow MOMS on Twitter – @oldmansaid