[/float]Read that again.
And then again.
And then remember that the Chelsea result is the worst in our history since 24th October 1964, when we lost 7-0 to Manchester United. Our record defeat is 8-1 v Blackburn. We’ve been beaten 7-0 five times; so this is our seventh biggest defeat in our entire history.
We’re a team supposedly pushing for the top 4. How can we be so outclassed by Chelsea? Before the game Martin O’Neill had said that previously, Villa used to go to Stamford Bridge hoping to keep the score down. We’d certainly been outplayed several times, but never so humiliated as today.
This is our first league defeat in 2010. Being “unbeaten” means absolutely nothing unless you’re winning plenty of your games; the statistic hides the important fact that we’ve only won 3 out of our last 13 games. Against Burnley, Wigan and Fulham.
This was no freak result. We’ve once again been playing poorly in March. You’ll be aware that Reading in the FA Cup was O’Neill’s first ever win in March whilst at the Villa. And who can forget the capitulation at 5-0 Liverpool in March 2009 or Man Utd 4 – 0 Villa in March 2008?
So once again, after sitting pretty at the mid-point of the season we screw monumentally. At the begging of March we had to be considered favourites for 4th. Games in hand and a relatively easy run in compared to our competition. Poor performances and draws against Stoke, Wolves and Sunderland put a stop to that. Now we’re 7 points off Spurs in fourth, and a massive 17 goals worse goal difference. Those 3 games in hand on Liverpool has gone and we’re still below them.
It’s worse than that. Everton, who had an extended summer holiday and showed up for pre-season training in November, are now only two points behind us. We won’t even mention Small Heath.
We’ve just suffered our worst defeat in 46 years. Imagine the motivational powers needed to pick the players up after that?
Well, having struggled past a succession of lower league sides we are only one game from an FA Cup Final. However we’re up against the same team who humiliated us today in the semi final. And this time, they might play Drogba.
Half our side are quite visibly dead on their feet and have been for weeks. If you don’t use your squad enough, you end up with half the squad knackered and the other half rusty having barely seen a match for months.
It is all very well giving Luke Young a run out now, but why against a team where we’re not going to be doing much attacking? I see Habib Beye came on, giving us three full backs on the pitch at one point.
Was Martin O’Neill trying to prove a point? I don’t know. It would certainly be a more palatable than simple tactical ineptitude.
Full backs, lack of strikers, favourite players, no substitutions. He’s never going to change. He’s just who he is. You either decide you’re happy with that, or you decide you’re not.
This is 4 years into Martin O’Neill’s reign. This is not a ramshackle team he’s inherited, this is his team. His £100 million team. There are £10m players that can’t get on the bench. Martin O’Neill has had the backing of a seemingly perfect chairman. The best conditions for any Villa manager in the last 50 years. So why is it once again going wrong?
Luke Moore scored the first goal against Chelsea, at Stamford Bridge in O’Leary’s last season. We lost 2-1. We played pretty well, committed and determined and were unlucky. That same season we went to Arsenal and lost 5-0. O’Neill is taking us into the same dark territory. Today’s result has that same finality about it, that sense that this manager can take us no further and his time is up and only an FA Cup win will reprieve Martin O’Neill’s reputation.