Aston Villa and one door closes

Dave Woodhall wonders what comes next as Villa lose to Everton in the Carabao Cup.

Sometimes you just have to sit back and wonder.

In hindsight this result was inevitable; there’s been a feeling of impending doom since the draw was made, or to be more accurate since the prices were announced. They were too expensive, particularly given the number of games we’re playing lately, there was some resentment that season ticket holders have had the free cup game removed and on top of that perhaps many of the much-vaunted 30,000-strong waiting list, as well as some who have become regulars in recent years, have bought into the idea that the Premier League is the only show in town and cups of any description are an unwanted distraction. It all added up to a much reduced attendance of… has anyone got any idea what the crowd was? Apart from pissed off at the final whistle, that is.

I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that no attendance figure seems to have been released a couple of hours after the match finished, although the empty banks of seats told their own story. The Villa got this one wrong, and it’s not the only thing they’ve got wrong lately. Terrace View, Lower Grounds, the badge fiasco and putting a new interpretation on the phrase ‘sweat shirt’ have combined to give the general feeling that the powers that be have lost touch with the ordinary supporter and they seem to be testing to the limit the idea that you can get away with anything while the team’s doing well.

It might seem strange to say it when we’ve just witnessed yet another abject surrender in a cup game, but the Villa are doing well this season. We’re sixth in the table with twelve points from six games despite not having played particularly well and from the fixtures so far that’s a more than reasonable tally. It’s just that although Unai Emery has shown time and again in league games that we’re lucky to have him, his magic seems to be in short supply in every other competition.

Individually the players he chose for the game with Everton were good enough, even allowing for the strange decision to play John McGinn at left-back. There was enough experience both on the pitch and on the bench to see off an equally depleted Everton side without breaking sweat, which would be just as well given the recent news. The trouble came, as it often does in such situations, with the inability of eleven individuals to perform in anything like a coherent whole.

Squad players who should be trying their utmost to get into the first team treated the game like a training session. Youri Tielemans wasn’t the only, or perhaps the worst, culprit but a player who complains he hasn’t been given enough of a chance since his arrival should make the most of one when it’s given. Everton didn’t have to play particularly well to be on top throughout. They scored early on, doubled their lead shortly after half-time and although Boubacar Kamara pulled a goal back Villa rarely looked like equalising.

The final whistle was greeted with a mixture of disappointment and apathy by those remaining. The ones who stayed away, for whatever reason, may have felt vindicated. The people in charge should be taking a good luck at themselves. If you can no longer get away with anything when the team’s doing well, you can get away with even less when they aren’t.

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