Aston Villa: Can Villa stay up without gaining another point?
The way Villa have performed over the past few weeks has been nothing short of embarrassing and to be honest the team doesn’t deserve to be playing Premiership football next year.
Of course every Villa fan wants their side team to stay up, but there is a point where you put your hands up and admit your team is simply not playing well enough.
And once again it’s not just the defeats that have been so hard to stomach, it’s been the manner of them. Rolling over so easily against the sides that were battling along side the Villa players for survival has been what’s really hurt the supporters - and it’s completely unacceptable.
There hasn’t been one result out of the last six, which has seen the side slide to fifth from bottom, where you could say we’ve been unlucky. We’ve simply been out-thought, out-classed, out-muscled and out-played on every occasion.
The draw against Southampton gave the fans a glimmer of hope and all the players were applauded off the pitch – and that was after a pretty fruitless 0-0 draw at home – so the fans cannot be accused of deserting their side.
If Villa went on to pick up no more points from their last three games no-one would be surprised. We’ve got Hull at home this weekend, followed by Man City and Spurs away.
The only saving grace we may have is Hull have their minds fully focused on their FA Cup final and Villa manage to muster one performance that will gets us that vital win, or even a draw.
However, the strange thing is even if Villa did get absolutely nothing from now until the end of the season there’s still a good chance we’d stay up, despite being on just 35 points, with a minus 17 goal difference.
Looking at the league you have Cardiff on 30 points and a minus 38 goal difference; Fulham on 31, minus 42; and Norwich on 32, minus 32.
It means for Cardiff to have any chance of swapping places with Villa they would have to win both their remaining games quite handsomely. Fulham would also probably need to win both their games because of their goal difference and even Norwich would need pick up at least four points for the same reason, which is a big ask for a team playing almost as badly as Villa.
What all that means is somehow Villa are still quite likely to be in the top flight for the start of the 2014-2015 despite playing some of the worst football in the league.
Villa’s slide down the table has had to be seen to be believed and when compared to last season’s form it’s absolutely shocking.
Villa’s six-game run this time last year saw the side beat QPR at home 3-2, lose to Liverpool 2-1 at home, beat Stoke 3-1 away, draw with Fulham 1-1 at home, lose away to Man United 3-0 and then beat Sunderland at home 6-1.
That was 10 points from six games, which still wasn’t fantastic but we beat most the teams in and around the relegation zone and it meant we were looking pretty safe with three games to go.
Fast-forward one season and the lack of progress is there for everyone to see.
The last six games has seen us then lose 4-1 at home to Stoke, 4-1 away to Man United, 2-1 at home to Fulham, 1-0 away to Palace, draw 0-0 with Southampton and lose 4-1 again away to Swansea.
That’s one point out of a possible 18 but even more worryingly we’ve conceded 14 goals in those six games, scoring a pathetic four.
If that’s not relegation form I don’t know what is and when you’ve got a fantastically attacking Man City side to contend and a Spurs side who also not short of firepower up front, you wonder – even if Villa do stay up – much psychological damage could be inflicted on the players going into the new campaign.
A lot was made of Christian Benteke’s injury a month ago and how much it would effect the side. Everyone knew he was the side's pivotal player but the rest of the first team has now returned from injury so there can be no excuses.
Manager Paul Lambert has completely run out of ideas – whether he had any in the first place is debatable – no-one knows what’s going on with the backroom staff and the less said about the elusive owner, Randy Lerner, the better.
If we do stay up this season Villa will owe their fellow Premiership strugglers a big drink because it will be them who keep the side in the Premiership and not themselves.
There are so many things that have gone wrong at Villa over the past few years and so many things that need to be changed - and if we carry on like we are there is absolutely no doubt in my mind we’ll go down next season.
History has proved there are only so many times a team can flirt with relegation until they finally go down, and when they do go down it is usually pretty catastrophic.
That is more to do with the ridiculous way the league system is set up and the huge financial benefits teams in the top league enjoy.
With Lerner already pulling in the string purse strings, if we did go down, you wouldn’t be surprised if we became the next Coventry, Leeds or Portsmouth.
Fulham, Norwich and Cardiff would all hurt if they went down but you’d expect them all to be capable of bouncing back up fairly quickly.
It wouldn’t be any better for the fans, of course, but Villa supporters are already worried about the future, and that’s with us somehow retaining our top-flight status this season.
There are so many rumours flying around Villa Park at the moment about potential takeovers, management changes, a possible huge injection of cash over the summer if we do stay up and the future of several of the team’s faltering players.
Whether any of those rumours come to fruition remains to be seen but for now let’s just hope Villa’s mind is on the Hull game and the Hull game only.
Win that and then we’ll start dissecting the club and evaluating what has gone so horribly wrong.
Article by James Fisher