After another loss at the weekend, relegation fears, which were practically non-existent a month ago, have now become a nightmare for the club and the fans.
The players looked like they were completely devoid of any confidence against Swansea and Lambert himself now looks like a man who is expecting to be sacked come the end of the season. After a brief period in the game which we looked dangerous, a great through-ball from Jonjo Shelvey exposed a high Villa back line and, as a marginally offside Wilfried Bony collected the ball, the Ivorian was through one on one with Guzan and coolly slotted past the ‘keeper to break the deadlock.
To give the Villans some credit, after Swansea’s opening goal they showed a bit of fight and scored a good equaliser. After some good wing play by Marc Albrighton, he whipped in a fantastic cross which was begging to be put into the back of the net and Gabby Agbonlahor obliged.
Individual errors from both Guzan and Vlaar led to Shelvey scoring a contender for goal of the season, reminiscent of Stan Petrov’s strike against Derby County a few seasons ago. At this point, the result seemed a foregone conclusion as the goal completely knocked the wind out of the sails of the players. From there on, the Villa players’ heads dropped.
If there were any fans of Paul Lambert remaining in the Villa faithful then Saturday’s performance was probably the ultimate tipping point and it now seems undeniable that he cannot continue as Villa’s manager. The away fans, who travelled for hours to get to Swansea, witnessed a terrible display of football and they voiced their opinions loudly towards the end of the match and after the final whistle.
I do feel sorry for Lambert because he has had to work under severe constraints but the displays of his team this season have been terrible. I really wanted Lambert to succeed, honestly, but it just wasn’t to happen. Maybe this job was too big a task for him. However, if that is the case then why did he take it in the first place? I know he had a soft spot for Villa and maybe this was a dream job for him but it just hasn’t worked. Randy Lerner is clearly to blame in my opinion as, with a bit more backing, this situation we find ourselves in could have been a much better one.
Nathan Baker needs to be dropped. As much as I like him for his hard work and commitment, he is accident prone. Ciaran Clark has to be recalled to the starting line up. I’m not sure why he’s been dropped as we were more solid defensively when Vlaar and Clark had a decent partnership going. I feel more secure when Clark is playing alongside Vlaar and I assume Vlaar feels the same.
I don’t need to tell you that the next game is a massive one – possibly one of the biggest games in our recent history in terms of what is on the line. If we avoid defeat then I think we are safe from relegation. I’m really hoping that the Hull players will be keeping one eye each on their trip to Wembley for the FA Cup Final and that plays a factor in their performance against us.
Last Saturday, the Tigers snatched a late draw against Fulham. Who would have thought that Villa fans would be thanking Shane Long for scoring what could quite possibly be the goal which kept us in the league?
With so much at stake this Saturday, I urge you all to get down to Villa Park and cheer the boys on; God knows they need all the encouragement they can get!