Make no mistake, this season is fast defining itself as an unparalleled disaster in not only Villa’s modern era, but ever. A poor defeat at home to Watford confirms that many peoples worst fears are now being realised; a revival to stave off relegation looks increasingly slim.
The latest capitulation will get the headlines, but Villa did in fact start brightly. Looking to test Watford’s left side with decent early forays, the pressure seemed to be building towards an opener. Soon though, Villa were undone & it all went wrong.
After some slack play the ball fell kindly, ricocheted into a Watford players path and the visitors took the lead. A gift that they readily took. You could feel the mood change, the heads visibly dropped and our game never really recovered.
This set back was a shame, as from a set piece, Veretout delivered a sumptuous cross for Richards to head home superbly to equalise. He celebrated wildly, prematurely, but deservedly. Ayew, largely quiet in the half, also missed a sitter between the sticks to drag wide. Watford were saved by the bell and took half time to regroup.
Villa emerged for the second half needing to rediscover their earlier tempo. In truth, we never found any rhythm at all. It was disjointed; repetitive, pained passages of play that lead nowhere. Sanchez frequently wasted the ball inexplicably, putting us under constant unnecessary pressure. Gana looked a shadow of his early season self. Gil and Sinclair faded badly. Jordan Ayew was largely a mere spectator.
The inevitable then occurred as Watford were permitted any number of advances towards the box. In an attempt to intercept/clear/ redirect…whatever…Hutton stabbed the ball beyond Guzan to stunned silence. No own goal is desirable, but this was Villa’s self destructing nature in all its glory. Hapless, preventable but predictable. That feeling of inevitability now started to creep in. Where was our leader on the pitch? Who was the figurehead to shake some life into our team of players who looked so lethargic? Why did nobody rally? Has anyone actually realised amongst the playing staff how infrequently Aston Villa are relegated and what this must say about them as professional? The term professionals is of course used loosely.
Then, if it were possible, matters got worse. Following yet more abysmal defending, Watford were allowed to chip a straightforward ball into the box, neither centre half reacted, Guzan watched and Deeney scored the easiest goal of his career. A standing start header, from nowhere, beyond our keeper. Atrocious from Villa, genuinely amateurish stuff.
It was made worse only by Deeney’s behaviour inciting the Holte End. The Villa youth flop, and former convict, was entitled to his celebration, but the manner said & affirmed a lot about the man. Unpalatable and classless, doing everything to reinforce the image of a modern, brainless footballer.
That shouldn’t detract from the fact that Villa had long descended into absolute disarray. No shape, no real threat and wide open to the counter attack. Despite Ayew pulling a goal back, the visitors spurned ¾ glorious opportunities. They had any number of half chances too. We barely mustered a whimper. This could have been a really humiliating defeat, if it isn’t already shameful enough.
Garde watched on, perhaps like the rest of us, wondering why on earth he’d stood in the rain for 2 hours. The line up was reasonable, individual performances awful and subs completely ineffective. Gestede offers little Premiership quality for me and Adama is exciting but very, very raw.
This latest defeat leaves us rooted, downtrodden and reflecting on the fact that a very average looking Watford side beat us with relative simplicity. There is also the realisation that we must win 50% of our fixtures if we now want to stay up. Form we last displayed when we had ambition. I’m far from convinced we have anything like the spirit, guile or qualities to pull it off. Indeed, I don’t believe many of the players actually give a damn.
Garde is now over the honeymoon. This is either a bitter fight to the death, tearing up of failed rulebook and adopting the type of Allardyce/Pulis approach to drag us point by point to safety. Or, we write the season off, cut our losses from 6 years of failure and start blooding the players who we will need to face a Championship campaign…yes, it has come to that.
Up next is a very tricky away fixture in Southampton. Ordinarily I would never rule a win out, but we seem to carry so little fight, urgency or intent that I fear another walkover.
And that I suppose summarises and concludes this piece. We are petering out. Sliding from obscurity into insignificance. It seems to bother so few on the pitch, to run that little bit harder or face the Holte End like men at a games conclusion. From passengers on the pitch to the incompetents off it. Content in picking up a salary, failing with distinction year on year and presumably walking away from a football club which predates us all, wealthier & unmoved. A football club that founded the very game that rewards their failure, has won all major honours, was revered by all & now lies abandoned by a bored, wealthy individual. Money might buy you football clubs, but it evidently doesn’t afford one basic common decency, commitment or the ability to show your cowardly face to those you misled.