A Crappy New Year From All At Aston Villa
Well 2012 wasn`t a great one for Aston Villa, was it? We went into it with a hugely unpopular manager and with not many wins. Our club captain was then diagnosed with Leukaemia, a three points became more difficult to achieve than a lottery win and then the 'new dawn` presented to us in the summer turned out to be nothing more than an acceptable face on the same body as before.
What on earth can 2013 bring to top that?
Well lets look at the positives or at least try, and once that thirty seconds has passed we can go back to the sandwich board and declare that the end of the world is nigh.
The semi-final is at least something to look forward to. The players have worked extremely hard to get their and by beating Manchester City in extra time and scoring four past Norwich at Carrow Road they deserve the place in it. With a draw against Bradford - normally you`d be absolutely delighted at drawing them if your own team wasn`t so ridiculously poor.
Instead of looking forward to the game I find myself pondering whether it`d be better to be humiliated by losing a semi final against a League Two side, or humiliated by having ten put past us in a cup final at Wembley.
Even if by some miracle the team wins the trophy it`s a hollow victory if they get relegated - it means nothing. Other than it being a huge distraction and financial burden to compete in the Europa League whilst trying to scrap our way out of the Championship - which isn`t an easy thing to do - look at all the clubs that have been relegated recently - I don`t see too many of them bouncing straight back up.
It really has been amazing to see how successful the club has been at managing to create a bit of positive atmosphere and buzz about the place and then spectacularly blow it to pieces like some giant demolition ball with it`s performance on the pitch.
After Lambert`s appointment in came a number of unknown, unproven players mainly from the lower leagues. Now personally, I wasn`t too enamoured with this. It`s always been my personal opinion that to be a good team you need the better players - so all these signings from divisions below us didn`t exactly excite me and just led me to believe we`d struggle to stay in the division for the third year running.
Some come first home game of the season - and all that good will is drained away by being 3-0 down at half time. The wake up occurs. Yeah, we`re still rubbish.
But we battle away, and maybe turn the corner with a great cup win against Norwich and a win at Anfield. Perhaps things are improving? Nah. In true Villa style all the good will and positive thoughts are well and truly blown out the water by conceding in three games the same amount of goals that we have scored all season.
You see - you need to have Premier League standard players in your team to play in the Premier League and win games - and we simply don`t have that. That`s why I can`t get angry with the players - they just aren`t good enough. Lichaj, Bennett, Clark, Baker, Herd, Holman, Ireland, Bowery, El Ahamadi - they are just not good enough to play in the top division of England.
So the playing squad isn`t good enough - but a number of those not good enough are players that Lambert has brought in himself. He`s also not helped himself by making a number of incredibly odd decisions - the aforementioned defeat against Everton saw Barry Bannan, a lightweight part-time actor in 'The Borrowers` up against the giant Fellani.
Or after the Chelsea and Tottenham game, deciding to stick with a failing system to go into the most important game of the season.
Villa don`t just concede one goal anymore. They let in goals two at a time - the first goes in and heads drop. Wigan, Spurs and Chelsea may be recent examples but it`s been happening throughout the season even as far back as the Southampton thrashing at the beginning of the season.
Last year we stayed up because of our results against the teams around us. This season, we`ve been thrashed by both Wigan and Southampton. It`s not looking like 2013 will be much better.
But when you look at how the club has been run in the past three years - the question is does it deserve to be in England`s top flight anyway? I`d suggest not.