We had an opportunity to do the double over a team yesterday, to get a fourth league win this season, to end a losing run that threatens to give us another unwanted club record and to delay our inevitable relegation by getting a better result than Norwich were able to manage. We failed to do any of those things.
The game had the look of an end of season match throughout with neither team looking like they had anything left to play for this season. We have admittedly played that way for most of this sad season but our visitors didn’t look that much better yesterday. They are the 11th team to leave Villa Park this season with all three points and they like others before them proved you do not need to be at your best to beat us.
Another goal conceded just before half time followed by another one we gift wrapped for our opponents left us two goals behind and gave Bournemouth their first ever win at Villa Park. These goals left us reliant on Palace giving us a short stay on our execution which they did with their first league win of the year and ensured Ayew’s welcome late goal would be only scant consolation.
This was our eighth successive league defeat. It leaves us just three defeats away from equalling our worst ever run of league defeats which was the 11 that we managed to put together in 1963. The record may well stand at 13 by the end of this embarrassing season which will see an end our 29-year stay in the top flight.
Who would have thought that after our win at Bournemouth on the first day of the season that the two clubs would be in their respective league positions today? Very few if any but both clubs are where their results since then prove they deserve to be. After our winning start to this season we might have asked ourselves, what could possibly go wrong? We now know the answer to that question only too well.
The team selection yesterday was surprising to say the very least. Starts for the likes of Richardson and Bacuna were as unexpected for Villa fans as I suspect they were for the players themselves but the end result as well as the performance is much the same whoever wears our shirt at the moment. For me the only highlight from a game of lowlights was the chant of “we score when we want” in response to our late goal.
We now need to stop messing around at board level and talk to prospective managers about their willingness to take the job of Villa manager this season so they have an opportunity to assess the players we have and the players we will need to bring in to halt our slide!
Of the managers currently available Pearson looks most likely to want to take the now poisoned chalice that I anticipate Moyes and other jobless managers might be less keen to accept. I guess managers with clubs who have a real prospect of promotion would be reluctant to jump ship before their current club’s immediate future is known and that managers who may face losing their current jobs before or early in the summer would want to stick around to be paid off by their current clubs. We would also I guess be reluctant to pay too much compensation to prise managers away from their current clubs. We need someone who can sort things out in the way that Graham Taylor did for us when we last went down and we need him now not in 2 or 3 months time!
My player ratings from a game that left us all knowing that the end is nigh are:
Brad Guzan – 4 – Turned a Grabban shot from the edge of the area past the post a couple of minutes before I and a couple of hundred others had taken our seats after 7 minutes of protest. Came for a cross on 81 minutes but missed it by some distance. Not called upon often during this game but his confidence is undoubtedly shot.
Leandro Bacuna – 2 – Did what we have come to expect from him lately which was not very much.
Ciaran Clark – 4 – Headed a Westwood corner well wide of the post on 49 minutes and headed another one a yard wide on 76 minutes. Was our hardest working and most effective defender until he failed to bring under control a 74th minute pass back from Cissokho and King raced past him and into the box before touching the ball over the grounded Guzan for their decisive second goal.
Joleon Lescott – 4 – Tried to organise the defenders around him but he needs to lead by example and does not appear to have the legs to do that at this stage of his career in the top flight.
Aly Cissokho – 4 – Produced a couple of half decent crosses when getting forward.
Jordan Lyden – 5 – Did more than well enough for me to have not been the one to not come out for the second half.
Ashley Westwood – 3 – He has gone backwards during this season and has become a shadow of the player he has been for us in the past.
Idrissa Gana – 5 – He was once again our best midfield player.
Kieran Richardson – 2 – Missed a splendid opportunity to equalize in the 59th minute when Ayew made a good run into the box before crossing to him at the near post where he failed to tap it in and instead somehow managed to allow the ball to go through his legs.
Scott Sinclair – 3 – Made a couple of decent wide runs early on and showed fleeting signs of the player he has been in the past but faded noticeably before his substitution.
Jordan Ayew – 5 – MOTM – Scored our late consolation goal on 85 minutes when Gana threaded the ball to him near the edge of the box and he hit a sweet shot past Boruc. Jordan was our biggest if not our only threat to the visitors defence but on the minus side he was lucky to escape with just a booking in the second half when he led with his shoulder in a challenge with Elphick. I can understand his frustration but will he ever learn?
Rudy Gestede – 3 –Replaced Lyden at half time and made no positive impression on the game. I have my doubts that he will set the Championship alight with a flood of goals when he returns there with us next season.
Adama Traoré – 5 - Replaced Sinclair on 71 minutes. A welcome return from injury and surely he should start games between now and the end of this season after all what have we to lose?
Jack Grealish – Replaced Richardson on 84 minutes. Why didn’t he start this game? Jack for some reason beyond me was not on long enough to gain a rating or to make an impression on this game.
Down and out with barely a whimper Villa!