Dave Woodhall looks back at Villa’s weekend and forward to more of the same.
There’s not much that can be added to the many words that have been written about Villa’s performance on Saturday. It might have been the worst of the season, it probably wasn’t the worst of Paul Lambert’s time and I don’t care what anyone says, it nowhere near plumbed the depths reached regularly and with ease by Billy McNeill. But what it was, and this is the worst that can be said about it, was that it was way too predictable.
My Blues-supporting colleague Andy Munro writes elsewhere about the expectation of going to the match now. That’s the thing with football – there are always some surprise results but on the whole when you play the teams around you, you tend to win at home and lose away. In the past couple of weeks Villa have failed to beat Sunderland or Crystal Palace at home and have lost away to Leicester. What does that say about where we are right this minute?
More importantly, what does it say about Paul Lambert, who yet again sent out a team who for all their possession were unable to muster a serious chance in ninety minutes against the side who were bottom of the league, and whose only real effort came in an injury time scuffle that led to another red card, this time for Ciaran Clark?
It says that whatever ideas, and whatever laudable plan Lambert may have been trying to put into operation, it just ain’t working. It’s only worked in brief flashes and there’s no sign of it working in the future. One step forward then at least three back has become a regular feature of life under Lambert and one day there won’t be any further steps to go back without falling off the edge.
Randy Lerner has got rid of previous managers at the earliest opportunity so it’s odd that he’s allowed Lambert so much leeway. Indeed, if there were news coming out of a club within a couple of days of a defeat such as the one at Leicester it would usually be of the manager’s sacking. Instead, Lambert has been given more money for what seems the imminent signing of Carles Gil from Valencia while Scott Sinclair, who I think is still at Manchester City, is another confirmed target.
Gil is in the £4 million-ish price bracket where Lambert has done his best work, or rather, the only decent work he’s consistently done anything in. Sinclair seems to be the sort of player who has realised early in his career that he doesn’t have to try very hard to become seriously wealthy and isn’t much fussed in seeing just how far his undoubted talent could take him. It’s possible that what would surely be his last permanent big move might be sufficient motivation for the player to change his ways, or he might just be another Stephen Ireland. The latter course would be a pity both for him and for the Villa, because his type of winger is just what’s needed.
And so, to coin a phrase, we go again. Lambert doesn’t look like getting sacked anytime soon so we can but hope that the new boys, if their deals go ahead as planned, can hit the ground running. That’ll be hope, rather than expectation.