Another week, another attempt from me to find some glimmer of hope, a positive spin….
If there is one, it is Adama Traore. The sparsely used attacker, got his usual 10 minute run, excited us, created a goal and gave hope that he is one for worth keeping. Right, positive news completed, let’s move on…
The reality is grim. The table doesn’t lie and neither do our eyes. We are an extremely poor footballing side and Sunderland aren’t much better. They’re normally a good measure for how poor are a side are and naturally tells us the full story.
As such, the game was about as pretty as a public toilet.
I thought we offered some decent threat in the early exchanges with Bacuna driving forward and shooting on two occasions. A cross of his also found Veretout who volleyed well only to see his shot saved by Mannone. At this point, foolishly, I thought we might break our 18 game winless run.
Then came the painfully repetitive goal conceded, so effortlessly, so self inflicted.
Van Aanholt, about as prolific on the scoresheet as a garden shrub (or a Villa player) was allowed to advance unchallenged before releasing a strike. To comedy circus music it deflected off Richards and in beyond the hapless Guzan.
A hammer blow for us. A confidence sapper, demoralising and for a side that scores so few, an absolute guarantee that we wouldn’t win.
As with the defeat at Norwich, as soon as we conceded the goal our approach changed for no reason. We literally stopped doing the good things that were reaping chances and adopted a shaky, frantic style. Many will put this down to confidence, I see this as poor professionalism. We need to man up, learn from mistakes and focus on getting back into games we find ourselves behind in. It’s part of football.
The second half began with no changes. This baffled a little, particularly given Gestede’s ineffectiveness and Grealish performing as though having never seen a football.
As the inevitable played out Garde finally awoke from his slumber and made substitutions in an attempt to find a way back into the game. Grealish was hooked off and Adama joined the party.
Immediately Adama began tearing the opposition apart with pace and skill. He is not the finished article but offers something which we have very little of; flair. His limited appearances baffle further after he single handedly ran the length of the pitch, beating opponents with ease before delivering a cross, expertly volleyed home by Gil.
A wonderful, joyous moment is a season of abject failure.
Villa never truly looked like capitalising upon this though. Another frustration; why do we never go for the throat?
As Sunderland rocked a little, we were ponderous, lethargic and lacking in great invention. The whole thing cannot rest upon the shoulders of a young sub and hoping a diminutive Spaniard can craft something for a sloth like forward in Gestede.
Despite the reintroduction of forgotten man Libor Kozak, it was desperate.
The inevitable opportunities came for Defoe, a ruthless finisher whose goals may keep Sunderland up alone. After spurning a chance when one on one with Lescott, he needed no second invitation minutes later, lashing in past the near post beyond Guzan.
It’s always a question whether keepers should be beaten at their near stick, but this was thumped in nonetheless.
The third epitomised Villa’s give up attitude and rewarded Defoe’s instinct to kill the fixture off. Attributes we don’t possess.
And so it ended. Bleak, yet again.
I am now getting immune to these defeats. I have accepted our fate, but I am not resigning myself of my football club of birth. If only some of our players had an ounce of care, feeling or professional pride to want to perhaps dig in a little deeper? It doesn’t matter or bother any of them, and no staged press releases will convince me otherwise.
The fate of the club may well be decided, but the complete apathy which surrounds the squad & club is a poisonous cancer which we need to shed before even considering a return to the top flight.
Up next is an absolute banana skin FA Cup tie away at Wycombe. Gulp! #UpTheVilla