Chance in a million

It’s Saturday, so Villa lost. Dave Woodhall winces at the recollection.

Last week I said that not winning at home to Watford is relegation form. It wasn’t exactly a profound bit of philosophy; I also said at the start of the season that I wouldn’t be all that bothered about results before Christmas as there were a lot of new players to bed in, so you shouldn’t really take much notice of what I say.

Actually, I still stand by that thing about results picking up in the New Year. The difference is that I thought back in those heady, optimistic days of August that the sort of form not to worry about would be a flirtation with the bottom six while an improvement would see us comfortably mid-table. Now it would be a heady ascent to the heights of nineteenth place.

Being wildly optimistic, there were some plus points to take out of the latest Villa Park debacle. Fore example we scored, twice. Jordan Veretout looked good while Jordan Ayew knows where the goals are. The trouble is, that while most of the team has looked okay in flashes, they never seem to be able to perform at the same time. Idrissa Gueye has declined from his early promise, Micah Richards is becoming more notable for what he says off the pitch than what he does on it, Rudi Gestede is a lesser version of Darren Bent, capable of scoring goals if the entire team plays to his one strength.

Put this lot together, add the sort of negativity that’s bound to come from a record run of defeats and the result is inevitable. Villa went a goal down, then did the hard part by equalising just before half time. In normal circumstances that would be the cue for a good second half performance but yet again calamitous defending led to further Watford goals and not even a late consolation plus a lengthy period of stoppage time could salvage anything.

Villa were unlucky with deflections in the run-up to at least a couple of Watford’s goals but in those sort of situations you make your own luck and not for the first time this season, fannying around (it’s an old-fashioned term; ask your dad) when the ball should have been put into orbit cost them. Results have shown that there isn’t that much difference between a lot of the teams in this season’s Premier League and if Villa had been capable of such basics then they wouldn’t be in imminent danger of leaving it.

There’s a long rest of the season ahead, and it’s going to take a miracle of Biblical proportions if Villa are to avoid relegation. It’s never been done from this position before, but records are meant to be broken and what Leicester have done in the past eight months has shown that such miracles can take place, even in the money-driven world of the Premier League. Whether it will happen is, of course, another matter entirely, but I did also say that Tyson Fury had no chance of beating Wladimir Klitschko.