I have become fairly resilient as a Villa fan over the last five seasons. Most of the time I feel like there is nothing else my club can put me through that will hurt me any more than I am. However bad things have gotten and, let’s face it, things have been horrific, I never thought I would witness the kind of thing I saw on Sunday. It was an unforgettable Valentine’s Day, for all the wrong reasons, for Aston Villa fans.
I can almost tolerate players not being blessed with the ability levels we’d like to see, although the likes of Hutton, Gestede and others have tested my patience to the limit this campaign. What I cannot abide is players not trying. Against Liverpool, I witnessed too many who quite simply weren’t up to it both in terms of basic football skills and in terms of work rate. I could not believe my eyes. The fact that our vice captain virtually admitted this post match beggars belief.
I don’t like to single anyone out, especially when it was the worst team performance I have ever seen at Villa Park, but Leandro Bacuna, a player I have often defended, displayed everything that is wrong with Aston Villa Football Club in one game. His body language was appalling, as he sauntered around the pitch like he didn’t have a care in the world. The Dutchman barely broke into a walk. If his display without the ball was lacklustre, on the ball he was not much better. He should have been dragged off at half time, as his attitude was poor. His game was epitomised when he struggled to control the football, which led to a sloppy touch and Emre Can made it 0-3.
Usually at 0-3 down I would state that it was “game over” but the truth is we were beaten from minute one. Not hassling, the Villans were sitting back and allowing Liverpool, whose players are by no means world beaters at this moment in time, the freedom of Villa Park. Our opponents have some good players, including Sturridge, who only seems to be fit when Liverpool are playing us, and we had players missing. Liverpool’s weakness is at the back and our side could have caused the likes of Touré and Mignolet issues but the Villans simply did not turn up.
As the nightmare unfolded at Villa Park, a place I once enjoyed visiting, I was left puzzled at the sheer lack of professional pride in the Villa team. Even if players don’t like the manager, the fans or each other, they are getting paid extraordinarily well to do their jobs. To have so visibly given up is completely unacceptable and an insult to the proud name of Aston Villa Football Club and to the fans who have attended games each week and endured the worst season in living memory. We have paid for this garbage while they are getting paid to serve it up. There are too many shirkers in this Villa team and too many men hiding. When the chips are down, too many go into their shells and make safe runs, where they know they aren’t going to get the ball. Too many show no desire to get into the box and risk missing a chance.
Every time I think we can’t sink any lower, I slip further into despair and break some new unwanted record that I didn’t think possible. Worst home defeat for eighty one years? Check. Lowest running distance in the Premier Leaugue this season? Check. How many diabolical records have we broken over the last few seasons?
Villa Park is a difficult place to play but it’s a far more difficult place to sit and watch the football. We are given virtually nothing to get behind and absolutely nothing on Sunday.
Aston Villa used to have players who could thrive under the pressure of playing at Villa Park; bg players can handle such pressures. Nowadays we see cowardly lions in claret and blue shirts coasting through games, not wanting to get involved. You’d never have known that we could have been only five points from safety with a win on Sunday. The players gave up – and that’s what hurts the most.