Most football fans can take losing games. That’s part and parcel of the game.
You win some, you lose some.
Villa have certainly lost more than our fair share of games in recent seasons though, and our continued slide is alarming.
It’s alarming because most of the faces are new. The majority of the fresh blood has been at Villa Park only since last summer. 9 more of them, a mere matter of weeks ago during the January transfer window.
It may sound cliched, but the defeat to Newcastle underlined so much of what is wrong at the club.
It’s almost endemic, as if a contagion persists at the football club.
In the context of the loss at St. James’ Park:
- The hapless goals conceded
- Our inability to seize the initiative
- Right through to the lack of empathy shown to Hogan by any of his team-mates as he lay injured.
We look less a team than we did when relegated. A damning thought to consider.
Like many fans watching events unfold, you want to cling to positives.
However, identifying those positives is increasingly difficult.
A theme amongst the Villa support (myself included sometimes) appears to be a desperate need to want to validate progress.
The reality is that despite significant investment, we have gone backwards. This fact is routinely clamped down upon on social media and some quarters of the media as outright negativity.
It’s not negativity to state the facts. Further, the club has consistently been obtuse towards responding to constructive criticism being aimed at it over years of decline. The latest iteration should be scrutinised just as closely.
The concerns about last nights performance was the resignation from the moment that Newcastle scored.
It harked back to all that was wrong about our relegation year and what preceded it.
Aston Villa were and have become a team which rolls over at the first sign that things aren’t going our way. And it’s pathetic.
The lack of fight and resignation when the ball crosses the line defies all explanation, particularly as this is a group which isn’t (in theory) scarred by the failures before?
Why the dejected “oh not again” looks amongst the players?
Why, despite their being numerous former captains and “leaders” on the pitch are we so quiet and lacking in accountability? Nobody wants to see infighting, but where are the visible on-field dressing downs or incompetence?
Who is fighting for this football club?
Some will point to Bruce’s lack of success motivating players to avoid the drop [a concern given our predicament] – but he’s managing players who prior to joining us were on the ascendancy in their careers. They were players courted by other sides and identified as being key to the teams to whom they belonged.
Lansbury looks a shell. Hourihane anonymous. Johnstone wildly erratic. Hogan a spectator. Bjarnason…well…he’s shown nothing yet.
How can this be?
Newcastle represents probably the sternest test in the league, but prior to the goal we coped. If we had an ounce of belief or drive to our play, we might have actually caused them real problems. Did we try nearly hard enough?
We urgently need to change the narrative on the football pitch. If we concede, it is unacceptable to give up. Unacceptable. Going behind and losing are part of the game which ultimately may be out of our control. Some sides, inevitably, will be better than us.
But in failing to compete, to fight and to have the will to win, the outcome can only be defeat.