Nearly as bad as Newcastle but was Villa nightmare a wretched one-off?

If anyone detected a nervous tone in my report on how the French sports newspaper L’Equipe covered Newcastle’s hiding by Liverpool, they were right. I claim no great powers of foresight but while, as ever, hoping for a win and convincing myself Sunderland were capable of playing well, I had the nagging fear of a heavy defeat at the back of my mind.

This is how I began my account for ESPN of the Villa Park horror show:

“For Sunderland supporters, there were two ways of looking at Newcastle United’s astonishing collapse against Liverpool. The temptation to gloat was matched by the knowledge that a tough match of their own was to come at Villa Park. And in a game that Sunderland, up until the start of the second half, looked capable of drawing or even winning, comprehensive defeat brought all the worries of inadequacy and relegation streaming back.”

No one likes being hit for six. It offers only cold comfort to cling to the facts that, unlike Newcastle, we were away and we managed a goal. We are almost as deep in the mire as our neighbours.

When the game started, I had found myself studying the facial expressions of Villa supporters. It is irrational but something I often do, as if the innermost thoughts of opposing fans could influence any game’s outcome.

Nevertheless I was reassured, thinking: “Surely, they’re too miserable and afraid themselves to have any serious expectation of beating us easily.”

Even when Vlaar scored – did the ball take a nick off Cuellar or just swerve a little? – I was concerned but not downcast. My pre-match concerns seemed groundless. And the swift equaliser restored my new-found belief that the match would remain tight. The second Villa goal, and the debatable decision to deny us a second equaliser, did not prepare me for what was to come.

Here, again, from the ESPN piece:

“[Losing] 1-2 was a halftime scoreline that cried out to be challenged.

So to the second half. Cuellar, dodgy earlier, became calamitous. Phil Bardsley, unsure earlier, was shocking. Stephane Sessegnon probably brought his season to an end by collecting a straight red, maybe harsh, for a tackle on Yacouba Sylla. And once Sunderland had permitted Christian Benteke to begin and complete the simplest of hat tricks, David Vaughan crowned a hopeless cameo as Sunderland substitute by managing somehow to beat his own defence with a long and incisive though ball; Gabriel Agbonlahor did the rest.

It tells you much of what you need to know that deep into injury time, Sunderland passed the ball about ponderously in the Villa half as if avoiding a seventh goal were more important than salvaging some self-respect with a second of their own.”

Two wins out of three in the young reign of Paolo di Canio had deluded us and probably him. Sunderland are still a poor side, much poorer whole than the sum of the parts (there is plenty of talent in there, just glaringly insufficient cohesion and consistency).

Survival is still in our own hands and that is about the best that can be said about an awful night.

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Monsieur Salut, by Matt
Monsieur Salut, by Matt

9 thoughts on “Nearly as bad as Newcastle but was Villa nightmare a wretched one-off?”

  1. The old maxim is that you learn more from a defeat that a victory and like his predecessor PDC is now seeing why we are in the position that we are.

    Better for him to see it early than have to wait until next season. Comprehensive team rebuild required for next season, we are well past the point where we should have been cutting the dead wood, and there is a lot of it on the evidence of this performance.

  2. My questions were, why was Colback dropped after a stellar performance v Everton, and where is Wickham? I hope he’s back for the next game as we’re going to need him.
    Graham never looks like he will ever score, although his off the ball work is ok.

    NDaiye for me is a bit clumsy and needs more time.

    Mid-week games are funny things. We have a chance of simply not turning up. Maybe the team thought on 37pts that they’d done enough. Truth is, they haven’t. Wigan are escape artists and Villa certainly look like they will push on.
    The only positive is that Newcastle have been pulled more into it, and they have lower confidence than we have. But lets not count on them to mess things up. If we don’t win v Stoke, then we’ve got to be very mindful of a Wigan team who always seem to come good in the end. :s

    We have to turn up on Monday night v Stoke.
    Did anyone see Sess’ challenge? Was it worthy of a red?

  3. Was I watching a different game Sunderland were well on top for the first half hour and looked far better than Villa, they scored a strange game against the run of play, we equalised immediatley, then they scored a counter attack goal from a misplaced placed pass, half time away from home. 2nd half a have no excuses or definitions of the carnage, lets just hope it was a blip. Stoke must be thinking
    they cab bully us PDC has to sort this out

  4. The one positive was the nice build up to our goal – the rest was awful. Our passing was appalling and our ability to hold on to the ball was non-existent. We seem to lack a captain who can lead and encourage the team once they are on the pitch.
    Well that’s my bubble burst, so it’s back to the normal trough of despair with the occasional hiccough of hope for me!

  5. Well that did not go very well did it?

    I thought Gardner was awful as well.He gave away a 40 yard pass for Villa’s second.Which lifted their team and supporters.Also at a loss as to why Colback was dropped for Bardsley.

    Our passing was woeful, far too many cross field balls getting cut out…..did we suddenly think were Brazil?

    The worst of it was losing Sess for the rest of the season…..he has been our main hope for goals.This is going to be a big problem.Still this is in our own hands,we need to win one and maybe and draw next two home games and we stay up.

  6. One team was hungry, first to almost every ball, and skillful in attack, the other team looked like it was resting after a very large meal. The goal chalked off wasn’t debatable, it was a blatant barge into the keeper, let’s not paper over cracks, Villa were by far the better team and looked like scoring every time they broke forward. Sunderland lost their shape and discipline, totally unprofessional.

    • I agree with everything, if applied to the second half, apart from the disallowed goal where Guzon was as much the barger as the barged. I texted Sixer after the second Villa goal to say we were had been OK, no more, Villa hungrier.

  7. A few positives:

    a) the league table
    b) Mandron’s brief debut
    c) Agbonlahor didn’t pass to Bent for the 6th

    That’s it really.

    The media are loving PDC’s bubble bursting.

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