Stoking the fires of doubt..
Stoking the fires of doubt..
So it was another Saturday night of pain and discombobulation last weekend for the Villans, after their team surrendered once again with a whimper against Stoke City. The discombobulation started early as the fans were left to query Sherwood’s starting line-up and the absence of players many fans considered key to an improvement. The pain came later and lasted longer because there wasn’t even consolation to be found in the quality of the performance.
Faced with the evidence of Villa being bottom of the form-table and third from bottom in the Premier League, it is hardly surprising that some fans are beginning to think that Villa are more or less where Paul Lambert left us but now lack the possibility of a miracle now that Christian Benteke is elsewhere. Whatever the causes of Villa’s continuing malaise, it seems that Tim Sherwood is struggling to cure it. He definitely seems to have lost faith in his Ossie Ardiles inspired attacking style and he seems to be tinkering with the formation in an effort to balance defence with attack, or something which only professionals understand.
Obviously, at times like these the fans start to pick on the manager’s peccadilloes but when you look at the other clubs which are struggling you can only conclude that it is down to the culture of the club. Whether it is Sunderland, Newcastle, and Liverpool, you can only conclude that the problems run a lot deeper than having the wrong manager in the dugout. It would seem likely that Liverpool’s decision to replace the meticulous Rodgers with Klopp, who has a personality the size of a minor planet, think he is the cure. And it seems Sunderland’s pursuit of Allardyce is driven by the same thinking.
But even putting the biggest ego on the planet at the helm, may not be enough in these days of clubs being run by massive interests like Fenway Sports Group et al, who will have a resolute corporate culture and which may be too rigid for a single guy to influence, no matter how big the personality. Any owner who brought the World Series title back to the Red Sox after 86 years is hardly likely to be persuaded that their philosophy and way of doing things is not suitable for a Premier League club. Whether it is Liverpool, Man United or Villa, it may be the case that the American way of running professional sport does not adapt well to traditional English football management culture, where a Shankly, a Clough or a Saunders could transform a club by sheer will and personality. It seems that the money has concentrated the power outside the clubs and changed the priorities.
So bearing all this in mind and with a dreaded visit to Chelsea coming up, the international break comes as quite a relief. With England already qualified, it seems unlikely that there will be much to get excited about but as things at Villa are so traumatic right now, I think I will really appreciate the boredom. I was daft enough to hope that Jack Grealish might get invited to sit on the bench but I suspect that now he has chosen to play for England rather than the Irish Republic, he will be destined to play the wallflower until they deign to get him involved.
In the meantime I hope that Tim Sherwood can get some shaman, witch-doctor, guru or sports psychologists, to transform Villa into a team that knows how to win, but in the absence of that maybe Ray Wilkins can bring his lessons on how to pass the ball sideways to an end and start his lessons on how to defend and score goals.
There has to be a cure somewhere.
Keep the faith!