Absolutely appalling and abysmal is how I would sum up Aston Villa’s shocking 4-1 loss to a relatively poor Stoke outfit yesterday afternoon. From the minute we scored to the minute the game finished, we were a Sunday league side rather than a Premier League team. The side lacked guidance, passion and footballing ability. The players looked totally dormant and disinterested after Stoke equalised. You cannot blame Lambert for yesterday’s showing. It is the players’ responsibility. I believe we have too many players in the side who feel they have made it when in reality Lambert has rocketed them all into the limelight. Lambert’s job is to motivate and Lambert does that. However, he has a bunch of prima donnas, with many not good enough for a local council pitch let alone Villa Park. We do seem to have a monkey on our backs in that we have not won three on the trot since 2007. The game against Stoke was the perfect opportunity to shoot that monkey down but the monkey bit back.
My criticism may be harsh but I am afraid I believe it is true. The side has punched well above its weight, in my opinion, and maybe the players needed a game like yesterday’s to show them they are far from being the next Ronaldos and Beckhams. Lambert did no wrong yesterday as the tactics were well laid out. He had the right men for the job but the squad folded. We should have pushed on, not sat back, after the first goal. Every pass Stoke picked off. Every ball Stoke won. Every effort Stoke had they seemed to convert. That is the way things go sometimes but yesterday’s defeat was down to the criminal and quite frankly disgraceful lack of effort from Guzan all the way up to Benteke. People say Delph deserves an England call-up. That was not evident from his performance yesterday. Bertrand for a permanent deal? Chelsea should keep him based on yesterday’s showing.
We need to bounce back or else our season will peter out. The game against Manchester United next Saturday is a massive one. The embarrassing performance against Stoke will be forgotten if we win but if we lose then we could be dragged right back into a relegation dog fight.
Criticism should not be aimed at Lambert. Lambert masterminded two fantastic victories in recent weeks against Chelsea and Norwich. Yesterday, the players let him down. I feel for Lambert: he gets serious stick – at times for no apparent reason. He signs the players, he picks the team and he decides the tactics but you cannot blame the manager every time something goes wrong. The manager does not put on a pair of boots or mark a defender.
It is time to regroup and refocus. The players need to take a long, hard look at themselves and realise what a mountain they still have to climb. The squad has no real depth, which was clear when Sylla came on to replace El Ahmadi yesterday. We are a side with so much potential but effort is pivotal to every game as effort is the difference between a good team and a poor one. Aston Villa fans deserve to witness better performances than yesterday’s, which was just embarrassing.