“They’re already on the beach.”
“The season’s over.”
“We are focusing on next season.”
Even this blogs post match branding of the Blackburn defeat as ‘meaningless’ is a too simplistic way of viewing the feckless performance at Ewood Park.
Whilst there was nothing riding on the game for Villa, few will easily recall such a disinterested performance from a football team.
This is a expensively assembled and richly rewarded group of footballers, who look about as cohesive as Labour party election push.
More than 6000 Villa fans made the trip, it’s just a shame the players couldn’t be bothered.
That’s really the tone of this piece. It’s also about the bigger picture & just how realistic our aspirations are with the squad in it’s current shape. For every Jonathan Kodjia [one of few who arguably justify the price tag] there is a Leandro Bacuna.
This is not the Aston Villa that resigned itself to relegation from the Premier League in January 2016. This is supposed to be a vibrant, dynamic side on the ascendancy.
Aside from a brief spell towards this season’s close, which amounted to a forlorn push for the final playoff spot, this campaign will only be recalled for abject failure.
The owner, Dr Tony Xia, whatever you might think of him, has backed the club with his chequebook. To date, be it executives, manager’s and a plethora of new faces, have done incredibly little in return.
FACTS DON’T LIE
The facts don’t lie & there’s more to success than a scatter gun recruitment policy.
This is a season in which we’ve been humiliated by lower league opposition in the Cup, endured Di Matteo’s ill-advised appointment & succumbed to wasteful spending [McCormack being just one].
The Blackburn loss represents yet another away defeat.
We shouldn’t be surprised having only managed a [completely unacceptable] 4 away wins all season.
Equally disturbing are the paltry 14 goals scored whilst on the road. 14 goals? A laughable statistic & the lowest in the division. Even Rotherham, the league’s whipping boys have managed to find the net 17 times on their travels.
It’s not all about faux public relations & flashy Gifs from the official social media account; the truth is we carry an impotent attacking threat.
And despite this, we fans continue to turn up in our droves, paying Premier League prices for some of the most under-whelming football around.
Football is about entertaining, even in defeat. You’ll find few who will bemoan a side that tries to win a game. It is this abject & sterile brand of the game which drives interest away from the game.
As a club we need to wake up to this quickly as our approach neither wins us points or fans.
The narrative, to coin a Tom Fox phrase, has to change.
Villa are entering a crucial period as a football club where winning at all costs has to become the norm.
We cannot afford to continue the malaise or brush off recurring sub-par results. If that’s acceptable to us, we will become just another “big club” that drifts into anonymity.
Our season high’s need to be top of the table clashes, not beating our minnow neighbours.
The football league is littered with clubs that can admire their trophy cabinets. I’d rather we could polish the silverware, whilst competing on the pitch with a view to adding to it.
The football we are playing is stagnant, uninspiring and bereft of flair. It’s the reason that we will finish more than 30 points adrift of the top of the table, having never dared to threaten.
The honeymoon is over for Bruce; the job of improving Aston Villa has to be in the here and now.
The fans may give the manager the benefit of the doubt this season, but come the early stages of next, he will be judged result by result.
And this isn’t a “he needs to be sacked” statement – he doesn’t – but Aston Villa need to be doing much, much better on the pitch.
If we are truly an ambitious club, intent on competing at the highest reaches of the game [as the owner states], anything less than outright promotion next term is unacceptable. To achieve this, we must play purposeful football that at the very least evidences a desire to win football matches.
Ultimately, it’s not supporters’ view that Bruce should worry about.
Xia & Wyness are rightly scrutinising, as they should & are now publicly stating their annoyance at the team.
The doomsday clock is ticking.