Well, the brief delight that the point secured against Man City brought has now dissipated. Villa were awful at Everton, a shambles of a first half display renews worries that this might be one season too far for our survival hopes.
In the lead up many were optimistic, myself included, that Villa would at least be competitive at Goodison Park. In reality, this historic fixture can rarely have seen such a tame and one sided affair. Everton were rampant, clinical, without ever being required to break a sweat for their victory. They were neat, tidy and inventive. Polar opposites in terms of sides.
All the evidence for our occupying bottom spot was on display. An awful imbalance throughout the side, impotency up front and a woeful defence which has long since shown it is unfit for purpose.
The experiment of Richards at centre half needs addressing. A talent he certainly is, but this is lost in an absence of natural positional awareness. Clark looked a different player to the one which achieved heroics midweek for Ireland. Hutton, a spent force. Richardson, targeted repeatedly by Everton due to his weakness, is a fraction the player Amavi is. The latter will be badly missed, despite his inexperience.
The midfield was poor. Veretout wasteful in possession and clumsy. Westwood, over run and Gana ineffective. They offered no support to our creative players and exposed the backline repeatedly. It was a headless chickens display from the midfield, bordering on unwatchable.
Ayew cut a lonesome, isolated figure who whilst expected to carry the threat, was provided no support in achieving this. Gil and Grealish provided yet more evidence that both cannot be supported in the same side.
Gil has all the attributes to unlock defences. However, with no options to release the ball in front of him it neuters his talents. Most disappointing again was Grealish. Lethargic in possession and providing absolutely no effort in assisting Richardson.
Grealish isn’t in the side on the basis of his defending, but there is a consistent lack of teamwork from him. This is not a healthy trait which one imagines doesn’t go unnoticed in the dressing room. We are not in a position where we can afford players who don’t contribute in all areas or adapt to protect the side when under pressure.
Garde once again had the same facial expressions on display at Tottenham. He must be baffled at the unforced errors, ease at which the opposition creates and our inability to craft a sniff at goal.
It’s stating the obvious that the games are running out, Christmas is looming and we are yet to show the signs of turning the corner.
We are in for an arduous, painful run that will likely feature more experiences like Everton.
However, we must break the cycle, cut out the unforced errors and put ourselves on the front foot in games. We have a better squad of individuals than previous years that survived, but Garde must find a way of gelling them immediately.
Watford must and has to be won. With respect to them, if we cannot beat them then our realistic prospects of survival are slim. It’s not doom mongering, its an undeniable fact. We have to accrue points at home to everyone around us, irrelevant of whether they are in better shape than us. Rooted to the bottom as we are, everyone is in better shape than us after-all.
Do I believe survival is possible? I do. However, our on field performances have largely warranted what we’ve deserved to date.
We have enough, just, to finish fourth bottom. I do believe there are three worse teams. If that’s achieved, miraculous as that might be, there are inevitably a broader set of questions.
How many seasons can we take as a club performing as we do? What is our reason for being? What is the hardened fans motivation to renew a season ticket or travel the length and breadth of the country? Why would you subject another generation to following Villa? What gives any owner, billionaire recluse or otherwise, the justification to behave in the manner they choose?
These are the questions if we survive. Those questions become harder and more painful if relegated. Unthinkable.
All I can say is that yesterday was another painful, predictable chapter. We must as fans support our team next weekend, to the death, in the absence of the support of those that run it for over half a decade.
Up the Villa, if you will!