Many will point to the win over Tranmere in 1994 as the beacon of hope after Villa’s cataclysmic display at Valley Parade. However, back then we had a team of seasoned professionals, rising stars and a spirit that matched that of the stature of our football club.
As of tonight’s result Aston Villa are at a crossroads.
This is not a piece to call for the head of Paul Lambert. But, how much longer can a club tolerate or indeed accommodate the worst performances from a squad of players in living memory. How, also, can our club be so ineptly managed?
We are so bad the jokes are no longer funny. Indeed, we are fast becoming a tired joke. This is embarrassing beyond reason as a fan but is ten fold for the clubs reputation. Who in their right mind can we attract to rectify matters on the pitch?
The perverse thing is that Villa started brightly and with intent. The attack hasn’t been our weakness this season but tonight it was wasteful. So inexcusably wasteful.
Benteke could have put the tie to bed, contriving to miss two headers from no more than 8 yards. One of which was unchallenged. Unacceptable for an international forward.
Bent was guilty of miss of the season. Heading over unfathomably from a rebound after a difficult strike from N’Zogbia. A missed nod in from a £24 million pound England international. Criminal.
Wiemann worked tirelessly and got his reward. Gabby ran around until picking up an injury, but to little effect.
The midfield started brightly but was guilty of the usual hopelessness. For all Delph’s endeavour he has proven to be a huge waste of money since his money from Leeds. Bumbling control, zero flair and utterly clueless protection of the back four. Not good enough.
Barry Bannan needs to be removed from the first team as quickly as possible. Much is said of his frustrating Hollywood passes and his lack of presence of which there is no need to repeat. The fact is that Barry has none of the attributes necessary for a successful top flight footballer. Interestingly, would he get into Bradfords team? He should be ashamed of himself, his attitude and his consistent underperformance.
And what of the defence? Lambert signings Bennett and Lowton are fast becoming candidates for replacement. Bennett’s distribution is dire and his defending fraught with errors. Lowton’s early season form has given way to bad positioning and constant damage being inflicted down the right.
That’s not to say the centre halves are much better. Indeed, it’s “head in hands” bad.
Never can I recall seeing a centre pairing get turned, let the ball bounce and get split so often. Amateurishly bad, game after game, after years of coaching and presumably hours on the training pitch after recent disasters.
Clark in recent weeks has been scandalously poor. Baker a constant liability beside him.
And herein lies the problem for Lambert. He has inherited and added to a very limited and poor squad. His hands were tied, but the lack of experienced pros to settle young heads is a major oversight. There have been and are injuries, but there was nothing in place to offset such an inevitability.
Of major concern was the ease of which Bradford struck us. The first was fortuitous in that it broke to Wells. However the finish was cool and a penalty may have been awarded had it not dropped to him for handball.
The other two were simply awfully defended. To the extent where Villa need not have bothered being on the pitch. And it could have been worse. Bradford hit the bar, let’s not forget. This was no jammy lower league victory, we were fairly beaten.
There should be no excuses. This is as bad a result as has been swallowed in many a year. Accountability certainly comes into this amongst those running Aston Villa.
The reality is that somehow this squad must be raised for relegation scraps. The visit of Southampton now looks a real challenge given our torrid defending and now certain depletion of confidence. And then comes the battle of Villa Park for the second leg of the Bradford fixture.
It doesn’t bare thinking about at this time.
The route out of this appears limited.
The club needs to make prompt and astute moves in the transfer market immediately or risk adding another statistic to the nations unemployed.
One wonders if it will be so simple?