By Adam Keeble
A shocking (both surprising and awful) game against Southampton thankfully ended – and just a few hours later, Villa secured their place as ever-presents in the Premier League for another season. What can Aston Villa fans take from the mess at St. Mary’s?
DAYS LIKE THIS
When games start as badly as last Saturday’s, fans have to take it on the chin. There have only been two defeats by five goals this season, and the other was under Lambert at Arsenal. Pelle’s goal should have stood and regardless of the defensive lapses, once Mane had finished his hat-trick it was really just a matter of waiting for the final whistle.
Rather than point fingers, because individual mistakes can never be accounted for in planning and preparing for games, the team should probably accept they were well beaten by pace and Southampton’s tactics helped by some freak luck and perhaps over confidence on Villa’s part. And perhaps the players being guilty of having one foot at Wembley Stadium already.
In short – Tim Sherwood’s Aston Villa are going to have days like this. When the best form of defence is attack, you’re going to get caught out once in a while. But that other five-goal defeat at Arsenal under Lambert saw half as many shots on target and while it’s not much of a lift, it’s a reminder of the progress the team is making.
SAFE AS HOUSES
We’ll never know for sure, but it’s very unlikely given we were in the bottom three when he was fired that Paul Lambert would have led this team to safety and the FA Cup Final.
Who knows? Maybe Carles Gil would have scored 15 goals in the last three months and Benteke would have been on the bench but with the style and line-up changing without making much of an impact on results, it’s likely Hull would have been sitting pretty in 17th for some weeks now with Villa, QPR and Burnley beneath them, had he stayed.
Sherwood’s confidence and man-management has done more than stop the rot. He did what he was told to do and the FA Cup is the cherry on top. And Villa fans should be glad the trigger was pulled on “I thought we were excellent” Lambert when it was.
Alan Hutton. Player of the year under Lambert. The personification of Villa’s shortcomings at Southampton.
Maybe Sherwood is right – maybe Bacuna IS the best right back at the club if you buy into his system and philosophy (an argument could be made for Lowton if that’s the case). But clearly Alan Hutton should not play left-back if we have any other fit players at the club with the ability to kick with their left leg.
I remember a game at Spurs many years ago when Villa hero Ian Taylor was playing as an emergency right back. He was bloody awful. You wouldn’t put Benteke in goal. Don’t put Hutton on the left side.
BURNLEY, BABY, BURNLEY
With no pressure on Villa to win, Sunday should be a nice day out. Beyond that, the cup final is something to look forward to safe in the knowledge the team will be playing Bournemouth and Watford next season.
Let’s enjoy the rest of the season and prepare for a critical season in Aston Villa’s future come August.
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