So, Sunday wasn’t fun.
What first looked like a manageable start to Tim Sherwood’s first full Premier League campaign has quickly turned into a tire fire of dropped points for Aston Villa. That’s just lovely.
The most frustrating thing? This story rings true for each of the last three contests:
Villa came out with a promising, good first half. Then opposing managers made halftime and second-half changes, and the Claret and Blues failed to properly answer, dropping points on each occasion.
You just can’t do that in the Premier League and get away with it.
On the whole, Villa have been a pretty solid side in the Premier League so far. You can see the flashes of where this team could be really good, and where the growing pains are, but they’ve played a lot better than four points in five games.
And obviously, Sherwood’s still a young, learning manager. There’s no doubt about that, and it’s something we all knew came with the territory of having him in B6.
But I’ll be damned if it isn’t frustrating as hell watching this club unravel week in, week out.
There’s still a chance to save face — wins over West Bromwich Albion and Birmingham City before a trip to Anfield would be very lovely — but it’s looking like Villa will be mired toward the bottom of the table for the foreseeable future, with a tough run of fixtures coming up.
From the September 26 trip to Anfield through December 12, Villa will play 10 league games, and most of them are against the class of the league. Perennial powers Chelsea, Manchester City, and Arsenal are the highlights, but the Villans will also have to deal with Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur, Swansea City, Everton, Stoke City and Southampton in that stretch — a visit from Watford is the only real "easy" fixture during the stretch, and we know how well this club can screw those up.
As far as that standpoint’s concerned, it’ll be important to have some patience over the next couple months — Villa will probably spend some time in the bottom three, and our position in the table through 16 matches isn’t likely to be pretty.
Between now and then, more than points accrued, the focus needs to be on better understanding this team, how to see out games, and how to make adjustments on the pitch during the game — and that’s a process that needs to be developed for everyone involved with the squad, from Sherwood down to Crespo the Magnificent.
Growing pains are natural, and they’re occurring with this team’s combination of an inexperienced manager and squad. Sherwood remains, in my opinion, the best fit for this job, and I think in the long-term his signings are going to come off.
But for a few weeks, we’ve got to start figuring out what it is we have, and gearing up for the run that’s going to make or break this club’s future.
Once Arsenal come to Villa Park on December 12, the Claret and Blues start a nine-match stretch where the most formidable opponent is Crystal Palace.
Those are the vital points. Run off with 20 out of an available 27, and we’ll be fine.
But if the growing pains aren’t ironed out by then, the club’ll be set to blow its biggest opportunity to change its course, and will likely be staring relegation in the face.
For now, it’s cool. I guess. You shrug, and accept it, no matter how frustrating it is.
It does, however, need to be sorted soon.