After last season I was as down on the Villa as I had ever been in my comparatively brief time as a Villa fan. We barely escaped relegation again. We did so playing a poor brand of football. I can live with a pragmatic approach, but if you are both terrible and unwatchable it just makes the fan experience all the more difficult. At one point I compared the club to a ghost ship. An absentee owner providing minimal investment in the team, a manager with an expiring contract and no backroom staff, no CEO, and our best player set to miss the first two months of the season. My only ambition was for the club to survive for another year and hope a new owner would come in and the club would find direction.

At the end of Lambert’s first season, and a year ago I was optimistic about the club’s future. We all know what happened next. I remember thinking that the team was not that far away from being decent, but after the events of this past summer I had no hope that they would actually figure it out. The team’s early signings did not inspire much in the way of confidence. They seemed sensible enough, especially given the meagre resources available, but it felt like we were trying to put a band-aid on a bullet would.

The early returns have been more positive than I would have ever expected. Philippe Senderos, Alan Hutton, and Aly Cissokho have calmed things down at the back. Much has been made of Roy Keane’s influence in the team’s new found solidity. With the way Lambert has reported to delegate training sessions and other tasks to his assistants it is a logical suggestion. It is also further indictment on the departed Culverhouse and Karsa.

If we are being honest, the team’s lofty position in the table is a bit misleading. That is not to downplay what the team have done. Individually, none of the results were that improbable except for maybe Liverpool (which is looking less impressive by the week). Stringing together the individual results is commendable. They way we have done it with as few shots on target is not sustainable. When faced with a sterner test in Arsenal, reality set in, and there is nothing wrong with that!

Plenty of mid-table teams missing their best player and their captain would struggle against a top side. That half the squad was sick to the point of being unavailable or playing at a diminished level. If anything I was encouraged by the first 30 minutes and slightly disappointed that the team was unable to continue at that level.

The attention that the second place garnered in some quarters from people who were either desperate for a story or just hadn’t looked at the fixtures will hopefully die down. Some, like Doug Ellis, were certainly getting ahead of themselves. That is part of being a fan, I have been guilty of it in the past. What this start has given me is hope that the club has some direction again. Tom Fox didn’t come to the club to keep a seat warm. The manager has the stability he needs to continue to build the best team he can. I also think that the events of the summer forced Randy to become re-engaged with the club. With no sale immanent, it is business as usual. Hopefully mistakes have been learned from and the club can start to move forward.

Comments 36

  1. Jason I understand your angle but I am yet to be convinced based on the evidence of the past 2 seasons and the stats early on in this campaign. Every team, no matter how bad, gets a standout result or 2 every season- WBA/spurs, stoke/city,wham/liverpool,leicester/utd,palace/everton- and these teams did it playing far more attractive attacking football than villa against l’pool. Similarly I’m not entirely sure of significance of continuity or stability against the backdrop of such dire football.

  2. Nice to see you back Jason with your very good articles.

    Seems to be dying on here, until the world is set alight on Saturday again by an amazing and devastating performance by Aston Villa and its reject squad……watch out Chelsea…!!!

    May be another pipe dream, but who knows….all will be revealed on MOTD by the crisp man.

  3. If you you are both terrible and unwatchable, then the manager should sacked and not given a new fecking contact

    It hasn’t exactly been a pleasure watching us this season either. We still struggle pass and Lamberk still picks attacking players based on there defensive ability than actual attacking ability. Grealish to be benched again on Saturday because he can actually play football

    Dee is spot on. Everyone beats the big boys now and then, everyone. Turns out beating Pool wasn’t as great as it thought seemed. They’ve played 3 s**te teams since and struggled big time

    Lamberk says we have nothing to lose tomorrow. Well, we do. We have a football match to lose and I don’t like losing. He says it like we might express our selfs and attack but I guess it will be out usual set up

    Again, if we sit back for long parts of the game, or every second, Fab will split us open for fun

    The only way to make up for defeat is to win

  4. So PP, apart from changing Lambert’s terrible record at Stamford bridge, revenge for the 8-0 thrashing and keeping us in the top three, Villa need to win so that we get our AVL regulars back. Not a lot of pressure on the team then 🙂

  5. Nice piece Mark…

    I used to have a great footballer, long since retired, who was known as Pongo, as a customer years ago ( a Villa fan of course) and had many interesting chats with him about the Villa, unfortunately he died about 20 years ago.

    although about a team which has long since passed on, but I am lucky enough to have seen more recent teams when we beat Notts Forest 8-3 and Man City 5-1, and the match of all matches, the destruction of Liverpool when there were no cameras to record it 5-1.

    However it seems we quickly forget that we destroyed Sunderland 6-1 and Arsenal 3-1, and the ‘pool once again 3-1. All this in the last two seasons….we may have been a disaster most of the time, but as time goes on may be we will remember some good moments, and I am sure this season there will be a few more, and we may have a run in the FA cup this time, as by then we should have Benteke and Kozak back.

  6. frem- how about stoke is it alright to beat them, their results are better than Liverpools 🙂 ? If you can’t appreciate the difference in our defence and midfield and general set up this season there’s no hope. no we are not Barca or even southampton but then neither are Liverpool. lets get tekkers and kosak back in before making judgement on where we are going, no point in crossing the ball to F all its going to take 10 games as we have said many times. if its still the same old s**te fair enough

  7. well said Mark.

    I am in agreement..so far so good.. Arsenal was a setback…but let us see whether it is the same on Saturday. I was at the game and Villa did give good account of themselves up until Sanchez lost the ball, and we know what happened next. Villa tried to get one straight back, which in the circumstances was not wise, and conceded again because they were too open.

    The effort they had put, coupled with the bug, caused them to lose some heart after the own goal, but then they did manage to hold on. I have seen a much better and composed side this season and it does not have the same fear factor. i am happy to support them and Lambert/Keane, and I am sure that this year we will see a big improvement, especially as Cleverley and the rest of the mid field start to bond in the same way that the defense has. All we need then is for the forwards to have a full compliment and we should more than hold our own.

    I am amused by the hatred of Lambert….so far of the suggestions that have been made on this site for replacement of Lambert, all have been failures….OGS, Pullis, Malkie, How well are Rogers, LVG and Martinez doing this season…and the millions spent by Manure, Spurs…and many others, are they paying off?????

  8. The standards some people have are very hi!

    Tika taka football…..win all the time and on a shoe string budget.

    You will always be depressed.

    Take a bit of enjoyment whilst the sunshine i says….lifes bleak enough to be worrying about how many shots we have in a match!!!

  9. Paul Pears-disagree my friend, I think fans are entitled to have a default position that PL is useless (given the past 2 seasons) UNTIL he shows otherwise. You need not share my view of course but I find it impossible to stomach the drivel that continues to be served up. All i ask is for PL to throw a little caution to the wind and really go for it at least against the lesser sides. He pays a lot of lip service to the flair of n’zog, vision of grealish and the skill of cole but will NEVER try them out together behind a frontman. Why not on occasion at least?

  10. Mark- it’s better because we put 11 men behind the ball. That’s why our defence is better. If we can’t keep clean sheets when we set up as defensive as we do then it’s worrying. The result in parking the bus if that we play little to no football.

    It’s nice that we are a bit more solid, but we also need to play a bit of footy once in a while.

    Mark- if it’s the same old s**t, there will still be fans backing Lamberk saying he’s had it hard when he really hasn’t. I can see us in 2018 still being the same and some fans still defending Lambert.

  11. Agree Dee. Lambert really needs I take the game to lesser sides and stop setting up like they are Barca. We parked the bus against Stoke and Newcastle who are the worst team in this league at the min. People are quick to forget Newcastle Orient and Arsenal performances. All 3 at home as well which isn’t surprising baring in mind he holds the proud record of the worst manager at Villa Park

  12. Thing is I have no belief in Lamberk that he can consistently keep us getting results. I have no belief that he will sort out the problem at VP because he shown in two season he’s one of the worst managers around. Can he get us attacking and playing footy in games where we don’t need to park the bus, or like last season will there be no change in how we set up from home or away? From what I’ve seen so far, we set up exactly the same. This fecking 433 every time at home

    Just because we have had a few good results, some fans think other fans should now love him. He’s got to make up for two seasons of utter trash. I don’t rate him one bit as a manager and just because we have won 3 games doesn’t mean i need to. Mcliesh went on a good spell with the Scum at one point, ended up going down.

    I’m delighted we are 30 points from the safety mark, I’m happy that we look more solid excusing Arsenal, it’s great to be 3rd but we could also get hammered in our next few games and be back to square 1

    Lambert hasn’t proved anything yet. 5 games doesn’t make up for 2 seasons of hell.

  13. Well, he’s proved over 2 seasons that he can make us cr*p on a weekly basis bar the odd game, he hasn’t proved he can make us good on a regular basis. The end of the season will show something

  14. frem- you are entitled to your opinion, but no matter who the manager the last 3/4 seasons have played out under very unusual circumstance, the strangest i’ve seen in 40 years. I can’t prove it but I think most managers would have struggled. other clubs have done as you suggest and gone down, we haven’t, despite dire football we have stayed up unlike the have a go sides and the big spenders. this season has started with the princely sum of less than £10mil being spent and free agents brought in. Give lambert £25-30 mil and keep the best of the squad in this day and age he would still have to shop smart to pick up 3-4 good players, but i’d bet he’d improve us. whether he’ll ever promote free flowing football I don’t know but I’ll bet we will Improve and play more on the front foot when tekkers is back. the midfield is playing as a unit as is the defence, a far cry from last year, we really haven’t got anyone up top. lots of teams are now playing the top teams on the break and getting results this season, also lots of teams are winning with 35% possession including liverpool at spurs. gone are the days when the top teams rolled everyone.
    I agree Lambert has proved nothing yet but I would be a liar if I said I haven’t seen something different in the way we play, more assuraty and know how, even in going forward!

  15. Mark – i think this conditions lambert has had to deal with talk is very overplayed – the reasoning for that is we are are still one of the highest spenders in the highest spending lge in the world – we still have one of the highest paid squads in the lge also even with huge cutbacks

    if lambert had spend the 50 odd mil he was given more wisely we would have a much better team , also if he had a proper football phylosophy we would have a better team

    imo

  16. runtingz- that my friend is easily said after the fact isn’t it. harry redknapp was buying players frem was screaming for as did fulham they both failed.
    the wages being given in general were 15,000 a week and less. if you can find 17 players of quality to replace a squad of high earners 30,000 – 40,000 a week you should be managing. If he had bought 3 quality players last season we would of been short on numbers after the injuries to benteke kosak vlaar nzogbia gardner and plenty of others. the academy boys just were not up to standard to be thrown in which has been obvious over the last four years.
    plenty of mistakes were made but you only have to look at the amount of players we let go on frees etc to lower wages as we couldn’t sell them to see how big a job it was. if the bomb squad had been sold things could have been different but their existence took up a third of the wage bill. again its not so much the fee its the wages
    the style of play is just a continuation of Mons style with cheaper players and a better centre forward in tekkers . Lambert has used what was available Gabby and weimann and delph then built around that. in fact if we had got a benteke in mons time we would of been in the champs league.

  17. ian- I hope so mate i’m boring myself 🙂 people only see the Lambert years but you have to take the whole lerner reign into it. the only conclusion is its been tough for Lambert good manager or not, or am I missing something? 🙂

  18. A considered and well written article Jay. I agree that with RK replacing IC and some experienced players in that we are looking better than we did at the end of last season . I can’t help feeling though that this is a makeshift squad : one to get us through another season without being in the bottom 3. I am sure the current table position is as much surprise to PL as it is to us ! The new recruits and Hutton have exceeded most people’s expectations , even though I said they were good signings at the time 🙂

    Tomorrow will be interesting as Morinho knows how we play – and has said he will be putting a full strength team out . Only Ramires is unfit .
    As for PL, yes he’s had a difficult task , but he’s made it more difficult by his approach IMO .

  19. Off topic – does anyone know whether I should down load the latest I phone 8 edition or whatever it is I’m being asked to download . I read somewhere it had glitches ?

  20. they are indeed old articles folks, only to show how long this s**te has been going on and how its why we are where we are not just the bogeyman Lamberts fault. people seem to have short memories and the old adage there’s no smoke without fire still stands.

    jen- this team is definitely makeshift but who knows if it will serve as a survival mode or a launch pad? no probs with IOS 8 on my ipad so far just update your apps regularly.
    i’m actually happy in a strange way about Helenius because I always thought he had promise. its also a demonstration of how poor the lines of communication have been between club and fans, our biggest c**k up in the lerner era among many. people don’t like having the p*ss taken

  21. Our best two signings this off season Mark were that Fox in the Directors’ Box and bringing that other lad Lerner I believe his name is first name Randall back from the Bomb Squad. Didn’t think two Americans would strengthen our squad so much but these two can really change a game on their day!

    Today will be very interesting.
    The virus excuse is gone. Let’s see if we get thumped by Chelski or can give them a game without our best player!
    UTV

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