Dedication’s what you need

Dave Woodhall watches Aston Villa Nil again.

It’s incredible to think that when Villa played Arsenal at home less than five months ago the game was a top of the table clash with Villa unbeaten after four games that had seen just a single goal conceded. What followed was, of course, marred by the virus that struck the team in the hours leading up to kick-off and after a 3-0 defeat it’s been downhill all the way since then.

I don’t think Paul Lambert would still be using the illness excuse; in his defence he tends not to make many excuses after Villa’s defeats. Instead he defies all sense and reasoning by saying the team has either played well or shown promise. He did the same on Sunday afternoon, claiming that Villa were still in the game long after everyone else knew it was lost. Whether this was clutching at straws or he genuinely has such a monumental capacity for self-delusion I don’t know.

Anyway, the bare facts are that Villa lost, again, and didn’t score, again. One-nil at half-time might have been a fair reflection. Five-nil at full-time certainly was. It’s hard to see how a team that have such good individual players can be in such trouble, but then again it’s also hard to work out what makes a manager whose style, such as it is, has always been based on counter-attacking should play such a high line against opponents who would be able to put together a decent sprint relay team.

Carles Gil continued to show promise and there were flashes that Scott Sinclair might be a decent addition to the Villa squad but the rest of the afternoon is best glossed over.

Today marks the end of the transfer window and normally there would be fevered anticipation of what might flash across the yellow bar of Sky Sports News. Lambert is still talking of adding players to his squad, but new arrivals are the least of Villa’s problems. What’s there already is perfectly adequate for the immediate job in hand.

And so, as the man says, we go again, to the impending arrival of Chelsea next Saturday, surprisingly at three pm. When was the last time Villa played at home to Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United without any of the games being on TV? That’s another record set by Paul Lambert and unlike the others, it’s one that I don’t mind being equalled next season as well.

I’d like to be optimistic but it’s hard to look past yet another record going on Saturday. Jose Mourinho will finally win at Villa Park.