Does everyone remember how, throughout the fall, we've said things like "the club isn't perfect, but a piece or two can always be added in January"? Well, welcome to January. And Aston Villa have added a grand total of zero piece.
I like to think that 7500 to Holte is a bastion of calm in the seas of Aston Villa angst on the Internet. But given the state of the club, and how little has been done, I began to wonder this week if we're starting to panic around here. So for this week's Friday Feedback, we'll be taking a look at what's happened this month.
This week's question: Given the club's situation, does Aston Villa's lack of transfer action worry you?
As always, our answers are below, and you should feel free to add yours in the comments.
Kirsten: For some reason, I refuse to panic yet. If we're going down, we're going down. I can't imagine a signing that would save us, in fact. It would either need to be an overhaul of the entire squad or the squad needs to learn to function as a unit and stop panicking.
But two other details keep me from hyperventilating. One that I'm sure Aaron will discuss, about knowing nothing regarding the late August transfers before they happened. The next is that at least Villa are still looking for suitable players outside the Premier League -- I want talented yet affordable players, and those aren't going to come from the PL. Now Villa just need to sweeten the pot a bit and actually land one of these guys...
Andrew: I appreciate Kirsten's calm demeanor. I had, until recently, thought of myself as one of the most spaz resistant Villa fans in the world. While Twitter would light itself ablaze after each ridiculous performance I would tell myself there were plenty of silver linings and reasons that Villa weren't in trouble. I kept telling myself if Alex Fucking McLeish didn't take Villa to the Championship then no one can. By the way, only in English football is "going to the Championship" a terrible thing. Jesus that's hilarious.
Anyway, it seems like there are no signings on the horizon and my one bit of hope stems from the fact that this terrible run of form has come on the back of a lot of injuries. I keep thinking that if the squad can gain health, even without significant talent coming in, they can keep their heads above water. The team seems lost right now.
I will say that I think Lambert needs to stay even if the worst does occur because the club needs consistency and I think his long term vision is sound. I'm just not sure he can handle it. Not sure the fans can either.
So yeah, after the Southampton match I am officially worried.
Robert: I'm sure Aaron will be here to remind us that we all really don't know what Aston Villa will do, and that Lambert has already proven to be a guy who springs deals on unsuspecting fans. But for the love of God, Aston Villa, throw us a bone. It is getting really frustrating that the ship - a ship that had so much promise - is seemingly sinking while the management at the club walk around as if nothing bad is happening.
I'm sure something will, and I'm sure it will be helpful. But goodness, it'd be great to see something soon. I'm not panicked yet. But I certainly am finding myself irritated.
Matt: *tries to type, runs away crying*
Gareth: I'd say that it does, simply because everything about Aston Villa worries me at the moment. However, from a practical perspective, there's no one player that ensures Villa's survival in the Premier League. If Villa do one thing well as a team, it's implosion. Most of our worst defeats this season cannot be pinned on one person or one action, but rather a comprehensive failing as a team. There are any number of reasons for this, and none of them are solved by the sort of transfer activity that one does in the January transfer window. That is to say: panic purchases. Randy Lerner already has one of these under his belt, the much-maligned Darren Bent, and that situation was completely different. The Villa team that Bent helped to fire to 12th place (remember 12th place? were we ever so young?) was underachieving, while this one is simply underqualified.
The worst thing Aston Villa's front office could do would be loading up on "Premier League experience" because Premier League experience costs a fuckton of money, particularly when you factor in the wages that you would have to pay someone like Joleon Lescott or Scott Parker to be willing to dive into the mess that Villa find themselves in at the moment. Furthermore, if those players aren't good enough to guarantee Aston Villa's survival (which they aren't) they will only add to the extraordinary costs of relegation from the Premier League. If there's value in the market, I think I still trust Paul Lambert enough to find it. But it's churlish and petty to look at every deal that gets done this window and ask why Villa weren't in on it.
Aaron: I think 'concern' is likely a better way to describe what I'm feeling, because I still absolutely refuse to believe that Aston Villa isn't going to make at least two signings before the close of the window. We've had our brushes with the relegation zone the past few years, but this is the first time I've looked at the squad up-and-down in January and thought "yeah, there's just not enough talent here to feel confident that they're going to pull out of this thing." Randy Lerner isn't an idiot (at least where business is concerned) and he has to recognize that the financial cost of relegation is much higher than any business the club could conceivably do in the window.
Still, it's clearly a less than ideal scenario to have more than half of the month gone and no real concrete links to any new players. This team has huge, gaping holes at CM, CB and LB and could do with a bit of strengthening elsewhere. Hoping for all of those problems to be addressed in January is a bit silly, but at the very least one of them needs to be upgraded. And as each day passes with no real news, we're left to wonder why. Is the club that good at preventing information from being leaked? Do they recognize how important this window is and want to due their due diligence to do it right? Or, on the less optimistic side of things, are they just having trouble finding players that would count as upgrades willing to sign? And when you start feeling really pessimistic about things, you start to wonder whether Lerner is unwilling or unable to fund the kind of signings that the club needs. I don't believe that the pessimistic take on the issue is the correct one, but I'd be lying if I said that doubt didn't manage to creep its way in every now and then. And if January 31st comes and goes with the only thing signing Aston Villa make is their own death warrant, it's going to be pretty much the last straw where my belief that this club can succeed under Randy Lerner's stewardship is concerned.