You could almost see it. Last weekend, when Carles Gil struck his thunderous goal to put Villa up 0-2 on Leicester City, you could almost see how this team was going to come together and do something special. And then, spurred by senseless substitutions by Tim Sherwood, Aston Villa collapsed. And when they came out against West Bromwich Albion today, it was clear that they had yet to recover.
I'm not sure what there is to say. From the very beginning, West Brom bossed this match. Villa's defense and midfield looked porous and opportunities for Tony Pulis' side were plentiful. It was only thanks to Brad Guzan that Villa weren't in an 0-2 hole when Saido Berahino scored West Brom's only goal on the day. It was on a shot going straight for Guzan, but Berahino stuck a foot out and deflected it to the keeper's right while he could only look on from his knees.
From there, there wasn't much else. West Brom always looked like the better team, but it was also pretty boring throughout. Sherwood's substitutions once again baffled (Gestede on was good, but why bring off Sinclair? Bacuna for Gil is crazy, and Veretout made sense to come on, but why take off the effective Sanchez instead of the listless Westwood?). And Villa couldn't mount an attack to save themselves.
This team looks destined for a relegation battle again. Tuesday offers a chance for a nice morale-boosting win against Birmingham City, but given the inability to get points in the league, it's tough to look past the fact that a win there would be nothing more than a win in the third round of a pretty meaningless cup.
This wasn't supposed to happen this year, and the fact that it is makes life miserable.