Aston Villa knocked out of FA Cup by Millwall

Clive Rose

Aston Villa's spiral continues thanks to a late winner from Millwall's John Marquis, and hope that things can be turned around continues to fade.

With each passing game, there's increasingly less to say. Aston Villa were once again undone by an uneven performance, responding to the early lead provided by Darren Bent by almost immediately conceding-from a set piece of course-and managing to avoid what appeared to a certain replay by conceding in the 89th minute. The only thing that differentiated this particular game from countless others involving Aston Villa and disappointment were the bottles hurled at the officials and the alleged racial abuse directed at Charles N'Zogbia.

I'm just largely at a loss for words when trying to recap these games at this point. The end result of being knocked out of the FA Cup at such an early stage doesn't bother me all that much given the challenge involved in Villa avoiding relegation, but it would have been nice to see something, anything, in this performance that gave me even a little bit of hope. Needless to say, that wasn't forthcoming.

I can keep talking until I'm blue in the face about the numerous problems this team has. The players aren't good enough, Randy Lerner appears unwilling to spend to rectify that issue, it's often difficult to discern any kind of cogent tactical approach, and every corner feels like a penalty. It's a mess. But you already know that. Everyone knows what the problems are, and that includes the only people actually capable of doing something to rectify them. But it's increasingly apparent that they're either unwilling or unable.

I'm far from resigned to this team being relegated, and I'm similarly not ready to call for Paul Lambert's head. This club's problems go far, far deeper than Lambert. But any faith that I had in his ability to rise above those problems and succeed in spite of them is long gone. This wasn't a league game, so it's not like it will have any effect on whether or not Villa can beat the drop. But the club being outplayed by lower-league competition twice in one week is certainly not going to do favors for anyone's confidence. The turnaround time is short, with a massive game against Newcastle looming large on Tuesday. This team has shown they can win games, and they've shown they can win games against halfway decent teams. But they're running out of time to get the ship righted, and with their rivals all taking steps to improve it's going to take a pretty tremendous effort and more than a little bit of luck.

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