Bangs and whimpers

Dave Woodhall watches Villa lose and wonders what lies ahead in Aston.

There have been worse 24 hour periods in the history of Aston Villa, but none for some time.

The transfer widow slammed shut not with a bang but with the softest of whimpers. Everyone else was engaged in a frenzy of buying but Villa look upon such vulgar commerce with the lofty disdain bred into us by our Victorian forebears and chose not to get involved. Whatever else this means, it’s almost certainly condemned us to relegation. Whether it’s also given Remi Garde any ideas about his future plans, only time will tell. His words at Monday’s press conference could be taken whichever way you want them, either as an acceptance that he knows and accepts the size of the task ahead, or that he feels the perameters of the job have changed since he started and he might not fancy it anymore.

It may seem strange that a manager is still regarded as being in a honeymoon period after just one win in 13 games, but Garde has shown that he knows what has to be done. I hope he gets the chance to show that he can do it.

Against such a backdrop, and with the regular injury crisis flaring up again, Tuesday’s defeat at West Ham was inevitable. However, to their credit Villa battled and were on top in the early stages, until Jordan Ayew’s daft sending off after 17 minutes. There was the regular stonewall penalty denial, a debatable opposition opening goal, some defensive heroics from Joleon Lescott in particular and, yet again, nothing up front. Once more there were some signs that, had Villa been in a position of relative safety, could have been taken as glimpses of promise for the future but in the current position the only thing that matters is the final score and it showed that once more we dropped three points.

A word, too, for the Villa fans who went down more in hope than expectation. There are few things to be happy about at Villa Park this season but our away support is at the top of a very short list. Admittedly, the prospect of one final trip to Upon Park might have swelled the numbers a bit, but then again we’ll be travelling to every other ground between now and May for the last time in a while.

And on to the next game. Norwich will turn up at Villa Park on Saturday fresh from a 3-0 defeat at home. That’s the sort of opponent you’d want if you were going to start any sort of revival and give a boost to your out of form forwards. The trouble is that Villa’s forwards aren’t out of form, they’re either injured, suspended or last scored in black and white. If we wait as long again, Tom Fox and Steve Hollis might be able to explain why there isn’t another option ready to step into the team.