The Villa Influence: Randy Lerner Not Alone Feeling a Nagging Sense of Inevitability

A column by Molly Jennens evaluating the main forces in play in Aston Villa's latest match.

Inevitability is defined as something that is considered unavoidable. Relegation became an inevitability, but it could have been avoided.

If inevitability set in against Leicester City, Randy, you had seven months to avoid the events that followed. Instead of throwing in the towel in September, when our Premier League status was still to play for, why didn’t you pull your wallet out your back pocket and do something about it?

This year there was no Ashley Young to score a late winner at Goodison Park. Why is that Lerner? I’ll tell you why, because for years you have allowed our Aston Villa to become a selling club and not once have you reinvested that money into a player that is anywhere near good enough.

It is all well and good accepting blame, but its far too little and far too late. Take responsibility and don’t treat us like naïve morons by sugar-coating the rest. I don’t care whether you sleep easy dreaming about that goal in 2008, all I dream of is a new owner and a little light at the end of the tunnel.

Last night I dreamed of a Villa win, yet I sit writing this after watching the 10th straight defeat at home to Ronald Koeman’s Southampton.

Starting XI Verdict:

Call me Randy Lerner, but a nagging sense of inevitability set in against Southampton as the team news was bellowed around the stadium, followed by a chorus of boos. For yet another game, the same bunch of useless footballers were named in the starting 11, trudging onto the pitch, heads down before the first whistle had been blown. I already knew the outcome of the game.


The only changes from the Manchester United game was the incoming of Micah Richards, who lasted just 45 minutes and Carlos Sanchez in place of Ciaran Clark and Richardson, who were both injured. Neither made the slightest bit of difference, I was just relieved that I didn’t have to watch Kieran Richardson try to play football for 90 minutes.

Black’s Game Management:

The man should be labelled a clown, because his team sheets are a joke.

His second substitution was greeted with the unified chant of “You don’t know what you’re doing” and rightly so, as Jordan Ayew was replaced by Rudy Gestede. Admittedly, Ayew wasn’t having his best of games, there was a lot of running, a lot of huffing and puffing but no end product. However, against Van Dijk and Jose Fonte, I’m not surprised. He should have been playing alongside Gestede, who could have provided the height and presence to trouble the two Southampton centre halves. Instead, Gestede sat on the bench and Ayew covered every blade of grass, with nothing to show for it.

It was no better when Gestede came on because when he won a header, there was no one running on to it.

I shouldn’t be too harsh on the man. Black has been chucked into the lion’s den and asked to do the inevitable task – I think there is a theme developing here – of getting results whilst Villa are in the search for a new manager. However, it would help if he made a couple of good decisions along the way.

One of those good decisions was allowing Kevin Toner to get on the pitch for 45 minutes, which received the biggest cheer of the day. The youngster impressed with some strong challenges and aerial presence. If there’s one thing we can be sure of, it is that our academy players are ready and are not afraid to get stuck in. Just what Villa have been missing.

Ref Analysis:

The last time Neil Swarbrick graced the Villa Park pitch, Alan Hutton was sent off. This time, the Scotsman was only brandished a card yellow in colour.

In this game, Swarbrick didn’t have much to do and strolled around the pitch as easily as Southampton’s players did.

The only thing you could criticise was his inability to let the game flow. In the majority of situations the play was stopped, instead of advantage being played.

Rating: 8/10

Villa’s MOTM:

I suppose it would be an injustice on Ashley Westwood if he wasn’t to get a mention, seeing as the English midfielder scored the two goals in a game all too easy for the Saints. To label him, or anyone for that matter as man of the match would be ridiculous as none of which are anywhere near good enough. But at least Westwood’s goals meant we had something to go home happy about. It’s the little things ay.

For all I moan about Westwood and his sideways passes, he is the one of the only players you can guarantee will try. As fans that’s the bottom line you ask for. Of course, it’s always better if they bring some dimension to the team, as well as just effort.

Who would have thought that Westwood would have had as many goals this season as Aston Villa have home wins. Sigh.

I could never not mention the Villa fans, who week in week out, produce a man of the match performance.

The sight as the players walked out of the tunnel had me in awe. The message loud and clear. We have a rich history to be extremely proud of, yet what future do we have to look forward to? In the past we’ve watched players like Peter Withe, Gordan Cowans, Martin Laursen, Paul McGrath, all heroes, legends that are engrained into the history books. Now, there isn’t a player on the pitch that would even be able to stand in the mirror and say that they deserve to be associated with those greats.

Rating: 6/10

Southampton’s MOTM:

It has got to be Shane Long. He is the epitome of a hard worker, who despite scoring one, is never satisfied and wants more. Something that Villa lack. The Irishman is always running off the shoulders of the last defender, looking for the ball over the top to cause defenders like Joleon Lescott problems. Unfortunately for Villa, instead of Lescott playing with the weight off his shoulder, by the way he was running – I use the term loosely – you would have thought he had a whole ton holding him back.

Long and Rodriguez worked off each other to split the Villa centre backs, which was their least difficult task of the season.

If Villa are to survive next season and Jordan Ayew is to depart this sinking ship, they will need a striker similar to Long that is prepared to make runs in between opposition defenders.

Rating: 8/10


Follow Molly on Twitter at @m0llyfaith 

And make sure you follow MOMS on Twitter too – @oldmansaid



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