Aston Villa’s defeat at the hands of Wigan Athletic brought the total of goals conceded in the last three games to 15. But the good news for Villa fans is that things are improving: 0-8 against Chelsea, 0-4 with Spurs, and now 0-3 against the mighty Latics. At this rate, Bradford City will be favourities to win the upcoming Capital One semi-final.
This all puts pressure on Villa manager Paul Lambert, who is starting to look like the proverbial dead man walking. If the club’s owner, Randy Lerner, gives him the dreaded vote of confidence, expect the former Scottish international to be looking for a new job in the New Year.
Villa’s decline since Martin O’Neill led them to regular top six finishes is marked. They are a wanabee big club, bracketed with the likes of Newcastle United and other Midlands clubs that have struggled to regain former glories. Unlike Newcastle, Villa can point to reasonably recent glory – League title in 1981, European Cup 1982, a couple of Football League Cups. And Villa Park, until the FA decided to introduce a Wembley monopoly, was a regular Semi-Final venue – such was the standing of the club.
It’s all started to fade these past few years and current form suggests 2012-13 will be a season of struggle. Even Paul Lambert has admitted – even at this relatively early stage – that Villa are in a relegation battle, which suggests that he is not brimming with confidence. He has dismissed the extent of his club’s current crisis by recalling that he has been “beaten up bad” in his career before and in almost Forrest Gumpian style, declared that “it happens”. Holt End regulars will not appreciate that.
Lambert has a weak squad that has that “Championship look” about it. Players like Clark, Lowton, Herd and Bennett may have promise but they are inexperienced and seemingly incapable of competing at the top level. And the striker with so much on his shoulders, Benteke, may not see out a full season with the club – despite joining from Genk in the summer, there is talk of him moving on in the transfer window.
Lerner was in town to see Villa humbled by Wigan. At this very moment, he may be planning his next move. Right now, the money exchanging hands in the second city is for a new manager to be installed in the bleary-eyed first days of 2013.