Aston Villa are having a bit of a nightmare at the moment – I don’t think anyone can disagree.
The last week actually started off quite well – half time on the 19th January 2013 in a massive midlands derby against West Brom (a match the so called experts had down as a home banker) 0-2 up and things were looking slightly more positive after a very difficult few weeks, let alone season. Unfortunately they could not see it out and they ended the game with a 2-2 draw, a result I’m sure they would have taken at the start of the match, though losing a 2 goal lead is always a smack in the face – little did we know this would be the highlight of the week!!!!!!! What followed was let’s be honest a complete disaster for the European Champions of 1982.
Tuesday 22nd January a packed out Villa Park turns out to watch their team try and overcome a 2 goal deficit against League Two Bradford, after a limp performance at Valley Parade resulted in a 3-1 first leg defeat. Completely dominant Villa in the first half, but they only manage one goal despite supremacy from start to finish. Unfortunately as shown in their previous match, this Villa team have a habit of only putting in a performance in one half – Bradford improve their display after the break and take advantage of the midlands club weakness at the set piece – equalise on the night, and again the home side needed 2 goals to force extra time. The rest of the game did not look like a Premier League Team versus a League Two side. Villa just could not cope with a goal being scored against them, lacking shape and being honest the nous to get back into the game. Eventually they did manage a second goal (from a long ball – but they all count) to win on the night, but not enough to get through to Wembley. A win, but a defeat over 2 legs to a side over 50 places below them in the league structure – a tad embarrassing!!!!!!! and that’s being generous.
Roll on to last Friday (25th Jan) – a very difficult away trip to Millwall in the FA Cup on a cold night in South London at one of the most hostile stadiums in England. Again a good start from the Villans, Darren Bent with an opening goal, but within 5 minutes, Millwall equalise and yes you’ve guessed it from a corner and then in the last minute a winner to put Villa out of the cup – OUCH!!!!!!!
As the title intimates – life at Aston Villa aint great at the moment. Now I have not even mentioned that they are also in a relegation battle at the bottom of the Premier League and have a massive match on Tuesday 29th January against another team fighting for their life Newcastle. Paul Lambert is a manager under pressure and commented after the defeat to Millwall that the game on Tuesday was more important (I don’t think anyone would disagree) but another poor result cannot help the team, especially as it has been chock full of young and inexperienced players for most of the season.
Now this has been an issue for most of Villa’s season. Paul Lambert had a remit from when he took the job, to lower the wage bill and he decided to go down the route of blooding youngsters and buying from the lower leagues to build a squad without spending a fortune – a classic footballing example of on the job training where there is nowhere to hide. Their season in the league has been topsy turvy to say the least ranging from a brilliant performance against Manchester United where they just ran out of puff, but did not deserve to lose late on, to a fantastic win at Liverpool, though again mitigating circumstances as Liverpool dominated early on but could not score and Villa took every one of their chances to race to a 0-3 lead, eventually winning 1-3, even Villa fans would say they were in shock at that one. There have also been 8-0, 0-4 and 0-3 thrashings in the space of 6 days over the Christmas period, which was then followed by a draw at Swansea, which was only the case because the home side scored with basically the last kick of the game – again a worrying trend for leaking late goals. Jekyll and Hyde hey.
So how can Villa arrest their current malaise – well a win against Newcastle would be a massive help. As mentioned the manager is under severe pressure, though he has been given the (dreaded!!!!!!!) vote of confidence with chairman Randy Lerner apparently happy with the job he is doing, and he will not be sacked even if Villa get relegated. However we have heard that one before :-s.
Personally I feel Lambo is a very good manager (he showed it with Norwich) but is having to work in very difficult conditions – however you do tend to live or get sacked by your decision making and questions have been asked about some of his this season. For example the treating of Darren Bent, the lack of experience and leaders in the team and related to that their lack of spending in the transfer window – remember the monies available for teams who stay in the Premier League increases even further next season after the securing of a mega tv deal.
It would not surprise me, despite being assured of keeping his job, if the axe came especially if results dont improve. As said I feel that Lambert is a good manager and I suspect he will stick with his current ‘project’ personally I hope things pick up – or it could be a very restful end of season for the Glaswegian.
Enough about what I think – let me know your thoughts.