Seven points adrift at the basement of the Premier League, Aston Villa are experiencing their darkest season in recent history. Only a minor miracle could see them pull clear and bridge the gap. But in-between all this, crazier things have happened.
You remember their cross city rivals, Harry Houdini like manouver back in 2005. Of course you do! Bryan Robson led the Baggies from rock bottom at Christmas, to retaining their Premier League status. To this day they are just one of two sides, (the other being Leicester) to rescue their season from the depths. But can Villa emulate this unbelievable feat?
Over two months from Remi Garde being appointed it is still a mind-boggling decision. The Frenchman has no previous managerial experience in England’s top flight, and is yet to taste a relegation battle. Surely Leicester City savour Nigel Pearson would have been well suited to lifting Villa out of this relegation dogfight. Loved by some, disliked by many, Pearson ruffled a few feathers during his time in the Foxes hot-seat. But such passion and urgency could be the medicine to galvanize the sleepy Villa squad.
Recent results under the new boss haven’t gone as planned, one fan on twitter saying, “Aston Villa are just not good enough. Championship bound. Can’t even put up half a convincing performance v Wycombe. Abysmal”. It is obvious to see the Claret faithfuls frustration, a stalemate with a fourth tier side simply doesn’t meet the expectations of anyone at the club. Because of the clubs decline and frankly abysmal form, three points against high flying Crystal Palace looked far in the distance. 90 minutes later they had somehow emerged with the win, in a confidence building 1-0 victory. The gap had been closed, but did the fans believe that a resurgence could be on the cards? One fan said, “Villa are gonna survive. I refuse to believe otherwise. Sunderland, Swansea, Bournemouth to go down. Another said “Villa and Swansea will get relegated 100%”. I know which one I believe.
If Garde’s men are to prolong their stay in the Premier League plenty of players will need to up their game. I would’ve expected an experienced rearguard pairing of Micah Richards and Joleon Lescott to have found their feet by now, but with the former being dropped, and the Lescott obviously severely lacking pace, there are plenty of weak spots to exploit. Stopping the floodgates at one end is only half the problem; goals have also been difficult to come by. Seasoned campaigners such as Kieran Richardson and Gabby Agbonlahor have not produced the goods, to it is up to the flair players to step up.
Jordan Ayew has arguably been Villains players of the season thus far. Inconsistency has been stumping point in the Ghanaian’s progress but on his day he is obviously a sensational talent. Carles Gil in a prestigious talent that is yet to fulfil his potential at Villa Park. Regular match action for the former Valencia man could see him turn this season on it’s head. Gil is certainly the player to watch in a passionless Villa squad, but as we’ve experienced so many times, it what happens on the day.
So there you have it, the highs and the low. (mostly lows) of the last few months in North Birmingham. Being rock bottom isn’t going to excite the Holt Enders but hopefully the likes of Ayew and Traore can put up a fight for the Villa faithful.