The equation is simple. Poor results put pressure on football managers. Aston Villa boss Roberto Di Matteo current record of one league win in ten league Villa games is not what the doctor ordered, literally.
While Villa owner Dr Tony Xia is unlikely to pull the trigger just yet, the likes of the Guardian and Daily Telegraph came out with the traditional ‘two games to save his job’ stories ahead of Villa’s away trips to both Barnsley and Preston.
Throwing it Away
With Villa throwing away another potential three points in the dying minutes against Barnsley, at the club are two points from the relegation zone, while 10 points off the automatic promotion spots (which could increase after the upcoming Norwich vs Newcastle game).
Considering the new Villa owner’s ambition and planning is purely centred around promotion there’s certainly an urgency to win games now.
The Villa owner has played it cool publicly on social media:
As always, the medias knew something I would do that even I myself don’t know. https://t.co/kBmj4RPttv
— Dr. Tony Xia (@Dr_TonyXia) September 27, 2016
Yet, you’d have thought there would have been an expectancy of four points from the Barnsley and Preston games, so the weekend needs to produce three points or the pressure will certainly heat up behind the scenes.
It won’t be lost on Xia that there were banks of empty seats against Newcastle at Villa Park, perhaps the biggest home game of the season, bar the local derby. The idea of the Upper Trinity stand opening any time soon seems a million miles away on this current form.
Also, Villa were short in selling out their allocation for Barnsley, where Villa fans could actually pay on the gate. Yes, it’s mid-week and at Barnsley, but success breeds increased away followings and they’re starting to drop off.
Before any axes are sharpened though, it has to be remembered that in Di Matteo’s defence, due to injuries and other circumstances, he hasn’t been able to field his full-strength team until the Barnsley game.
One thing that Di Matteo will always have in his favour though is the lack of decent managers around to replace him. When you have England having to desperately go for Sam Allardyce as their boss (that worked out well!).
The lack of suitable replacements will bring him more time, but the fact he has gambled on the goalkeeper position (which has already cost us points) and perhaps failed to ultimately address the midfield fully, may become more important factors in regards to his position.
A win against Preston will certainly help quell the chattering during the upcoming international break that follows though. In the respect, the pressure on RDM is certainly real.
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