Season 2021/2022, West Ham push our Villans to the Brink

Just when we thought it could not get worse, it did.  Even if Southampton gift us a win (a hugely unlikely proposition), it appears that Villa’s woes will not be relieved.  There is no on-field leadership and no Villa player capable of imposing himself on a game.  Mings still pouted after being inserted back into the line-up after Konsa’s red card.  Did he encourage belief in his teammates, a necessary component of skipper-hood? No.  In fact, he appeared to be still holding a grudge that he had been dropped in the first place.

In hindsight, it would have been better if he had been left on the bench for the complete game.  The problem with that would have been the fan-reaction.  Every fan must have been expecting Mings to put the team first.  Instead, he put his own ego first.  Yikes.

As a Villa fan, you could check the boxes as to what you were desperately afraid of: Martinez being mortal, an early “cheap goal” by our visitors; a weak response if we did get behind; injuries and forced substitutions; failure to hold onto a lead or a tying goal; demonstrable indications of a lack of confidence and/or ideas; and embarrassment at their own performance.  We checked them all!

Dean Smith will likely survive Nuno’s fate at Spurs because of his track-record and that most fans like him, despite their misgivings.  They might also blame the front office, rather than Smith, for Jack Grealish leaving and for his replacements failing to show why they were acquired.  There seems to be the feeling that these replacements were available rather than that they fitted into the team.  Ings is striker whose best days are past, Buendia may be able to excel in the Championship but he’s too much of a lightweight for the Premiership, Ashley Young has passed his “sell-by-date”, and Leon Bailey is all-froth and no substance. 

That diagnosis is going to be hard to overcome in a team with few solid stars other than Martinez to demonstrate by example.  McGinn and Watkins are each often excellent, but they cannot sustain the team on their own.

In fact, the only Villa player who hinted that they could make that kind of difference was Marvelous Nakamba.  Between the 50th minute when Konsa was sent off and the 78th minute when he was hurt in a clash of knees, he was a “one-man-wrecking crew” and had Villa fans believing.  Two minutes later, while he was still recovering, the 9½ -man Villa squad gave up the third West Ham goal and snuffed any chance of a tie.

We can dream that Marvelous will become for us, what N’Golo Kanté was for Leicester (and after for Chelsea and the France national team).  That’s definitely a pipedream, but it is going to take something of that magnitude to keep this ship from sinking!

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