An ‘Embarrassment’ and ‘Dreadful’. No, these aren’t quotes plucked from fan Tweets, these are the words of Dean Smith.
This was another lacklustre, spiritless and relegation inducing display from Villa.
Saints, whilst on 31 points, likely couldn’t believe their luck as the game played out. Largely uncontested. The south coast side had the worst home points haul of any Premier League team until our arrival. Our dismal away form continues.
The warning signs were visible early on, with Pepe Reina making a couple of smart stops and also having the post to thank after a deflected effort from Smallbone clipped its outside edge.
Villa looked completely disjointed, slothlike at the back when faced with Southampton’s intent and totally devoid of ideas when it came to moving the ball upfield with any sense of purpose.
Shane Long opened the scoring, literally knobbing in a finish at the near post. It’s hard to describe Villa’s attempt to stop the cross or goal, as there was none. Neither Konsa nor Hause appeared alive to the threat….nor alive at all.
The first half was therefore decidedly painful viewing.
Indeed, we were also subjected to the “injury” antics of Anwar El Ghazi. The Belgian, whom seldom shows his potential in the top flight, lay on the turf for minutes at the end of the half.
Despite encouragement from Mings and then Grealish for him to get to his feet, he trudged off, hiding a dubious facial injury. Or perhaps just hiding. Meanwhile, Djenepo looked on from the opposition side, head bandaged, having sustained a nasty cut above the eye earlier in the half. If nothing, it underlines the lack of fight amongst our ranks.
The second half demonstrated our secondary problem. A complete absence of tactical nouse from the bench.
No invention, no animation and absolutely nothing to get the hosts thinking.
Southampton, whilst competent and well drilled, were by no means outstanding. However, they had a plan and stuck to it. They went close, with Long firing over from close range whilst Reina did well to keep out a volleyed effort.
It was though the depths of injury time that Saints sealed the points, latching onto a punched clearance, they broke. Reina, inexplicably having joined the attack despite us having the worst goal difference in the league could only watch on as Armstrong stroked the ball into the empty net.
Smith was critical in his post match interview. There were without question a number of unacceptable performances. However, these performances are not confined to these 90 minutes alone. We are now being routinely subjected to a confused tactical approach and certainly a manager who is struggling to evidence a coherant style of play.
Individuals must be held to account; but that accountability also extends to the management/coaching teams oversight too.
The simple fact is that the games are running out fast, we are faltering badly and we must beat teams we haven’t beaten all season, or accept our fate.
As an aside, there were completely unfounded rumours of a “bust-up” between Terry and Smith in the tunnel area.
Finally, there were reports of Villa On Tour becoming the target of abuse from a small minority within the away section. Ultimately, all supporters, irrelevant of how they choose to follow, support and communicate their views should be free to do so. It’s ok to disagree, but abuse is not.
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