Another game, another loss. What did Aston Villa fans learn from a week that leaves the team seven points adrift from safety and needing to defy all the odds to survive… before Christmas?
… Villa are going down. To stay up would mean defying history and all the odds.
The nature of the loss to Watford makes it harder to swallow. The 4-1-4-1 worked well and for all the attacking, chances and corners created we didn’t have enough to win.
Yes, there was luck involved. But Watford had not one but TWO extremely dodgy keepers in goal and we couldn’t score enough to win. More importantly, Watford had a strike-force who have had time to develop an understanding in the Championship and while Clark and Ayew scuffed at their clear chances, Watford buried theirs. That’s it.
And frankly, does playing well and still losing make you feel any better?
WHAT’S THROUGH THE TRANSFER WINDOW?
Hard not to come all doom and gloom here, but any shopping for new players in January will be even harder given our last place spot. Even if the board finds some money, who would want to come? Even a player happy to join a Premiership team, who is driven to power the team up the table with his heart on his sleeve would surely insist on a contract with all kinds of clauses – from survival bonuses to minimum-fee-release-in-case-of-relegation.
For example to land Charlie Austin it would take £8-10m, a wage increase, goal bonuses, a lump sum if the team stays up and an agreement he will be sold if they don’t. So: it’s unlikely from the off and at best a long-odds gamble, at worst an expensive loan.
The alternative is likely to be players from France that Garde knows who can come in and produce immediately. They would be inspired to give it their all for the all-or-nothing cause but primarily to earn a move if the team is relegated.
Hardly gives anyone confidence – even before we’ve seen who he’s looking at. Last week this column was encouraging the board to spend its way out of trouble. After this weekend’s defeat, with relegation a near-certainty barring extraordinary circumstances, perhaps the long game is to blood some kids, cut some more wages by dumping high earners, renegotiate player contracts to get some of them to stay and prepare for next season in the Championship.
Adama Traore is a beast. Watching him as a late sub, he doesn’t know or doesn’t care that the team is waist-high in the muck. He was nothing short of instilling complete terror into the Watford defense, none of whom fancied it when he had the ball.
With Barcelona saying they are in no rush to have him back, his attitude could be key in getting them (sigh!) 33 more points we need to start thinking about survival. He fit the formation well and with a tweak in the starting line-up (with him on the wing from the off and either Gestede or Kozak leading the line) things could look a little brighter.
… WATCHING THE DEFENDERS
Even parents watching kids playing football know that you can’t account for individual mistakes. Playing well for 99% of the game still means you could lose because of an irrational handball, a blown tackle, a sliced clearance or an attempt to put the ball out for a corner that beats your keeper in front of a sickened Holte End.
If Villa had scored five in the first half, Watford could have scored six. Not because of the Hornets’ relentless attacking (not the case) but because the defense were outwitted by simple passing, clinical finishes and their own shooting themselves in the foot for every one of the three goals.
Sadly, over the past few seasons, ineptitude in Villa’s own 18 yard box has become a trademark. It’s hard not to blame the players too – how many individual mistakes did McGrath, Southgate, Laursen, Mellberg, Mountfield (well, he made one or two at the start of his career but was great later on) – even Ehiogu (who was clumsy as a rookie but ended his career as a stud) make in a SEASON let alone in a game.
It might not even be down to a lack of ability – it’s a lack of confidence and that “here we go again” feeling when the team goes a goal down against the run of play that leads to carelessness. And that goes double for Guzan. UTV
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