Two more games to forget knocking Aston Villa out of the FA Cup and edging the club closer to the relegation trap door have disheartened even the most blinkered fans, already down after the lack of new players in January. What can fans take from yet more disappointment?
Tim Sherwood was given money to spend after breathing fresh life into Villa and taking them to the FA Cup final… but was he? It seems like survival and a cup final only earned him so much respect and trust, with many of the players brought in not being his first choices – and not by him.
Garde has aired his frustrations at not being able to bring in anyone at all, moaning that he would have thought the board would have backed him in bringing in his own players to put his brand on the team.
But why would they trust him? In 16 games he was won just twice, with one of those wins coming against Wycombe after a replay. Losses maybe improved to draws as far as the defensive line is concerned, but he was brought in to change Villa’s direction and pick up points – and the team is still dead last and heading down without much of a fight.
If Garde had shown some bravery when drawing or being behind and gone a bit more gung-ho to get a win rather than hang on to a frankly irrelevant point given the team’s situation and picked up a few come-from-behind wins, he would be a better situation to negotiate bringing in some new faces with the board’s backing.
If Villa had pulled off a few wins and moved out of 20th at least, maybe the board would have been braver too and tossed him a bone. Plus, players would have been more inclined to join the team.
While the board should shoulder the brunt of the blame for Villa’s pathetic surrender during the transfer window, missing a golden opportunity (as Stan Collymore suggested) to give the fans SOMETHING by way a lift in spirits in the form of a new striker, even it was the seventh choice and on loan, Garde should know this is a results business and for the positives in performances, he hasn’t done what everyone had hoped possible.
The Manchester City game was sad. Down a goal before some fans had taken their seats (those that still had the inclination to turn up), the match-day figures will tell you Villa had more possession, sufficient shots on goal, blah blah blah.
The bottom line: Villa were beaten pretty easily by a team still gunning for an unprecedented quadruple of trophies – and that still had the balls to tell their manager he wasn’t doing well enough and that he would be replaced at the end of the season, even if he wins the bloody lot!
Even with Delph to yell at, this result was about as demoralizing as it gets.
Certainly Ayew’s red card made the game more of an uphill battle (and his absence for at least three more games will make the next few tougher too) but West Ham deserved their win.
Fans will be tired of saying how this was winnable, but here’s the facts: this is not a strong squad. There are no stand-out players. Were there any sneaky inquiries or multi-million pound bids for any Villa players in January? No – because they aren’t better than what every other team already has.
With Delph and Benteke gone, there’s no identity any more. Six players from the Sherwood era team were chosen to launch the new kit in August – Sinclair (benched), Gabby (more on him below), Grealish (chastised and benched), Delph (sold), Benteke (sold) and Clark (benched). So who is left to represent and personify Villa? Westwood? Alan Hutton? Guzan?
Once again: the board is to blame for accepting relegation and being out of touch with what is needed to win back the fans if the team can’t win games. But this defeat was down to Garde’s tactics and not being as good as a team that could have been seen a peer.
The announcement that Gabby Agbonlahor would be starting against West Ham was summed up by one online comment: “Gabby LOL”
In support of Gabby, he’s a Villa fan and unlike Charles N’Zogbia, he feels something strong towards the team as he realizes his dream of playing for Aston Villa FC every day. But his return didn’t inspire much confidence in most fans given the online reaction and also his recent form before his long lay-off.
Gabby’s cause was always made more difficult after he found himself leading the line once Ayew was sent off. If he had scored a hat-trick and won the game single-handedly it would have been a biggest fairy tale than Sleeping Beauty.
But sadly his influence on the game was what fans have got used to in recent seasons. Another reason the final whistle was so painful.
Follow Adam Keeble on Twitter @keebo00
Follow MOMS on Twitter @oldmansaid