Another defeat at Villa Park, an unprecedented 10th in the league this season. For the first time in the club's 140 year history the club has lost ten league games at home in one season.
This isn't a
pessimistic fan moaning about the state of his beloved club, it's a
fan telling the hard-lined truth, the club's ever-present stature in
the Premier League is on the line this season.
Paul Lambert has taken charge of 36 games at Villa Park in the Premier League, only 10 victories have been witnessed by a depleting crowd that each game, in the current trend, is getting even closer to completely turning on the Champions League winner.
In his first season Villa finished with three more points (41) than they did under McLeish, but they are currently two points worse off (34) than they were after 33 games in the 2011/12 season; Villa would need another four points to equal AMC's total of 38.
So where does the blame lie? Is the owner the culprit for no longer investing considerable funds in the playing squad? Or is it the manager's fault?
Out of the £40 million given to him by owner Randy Lerner, Paul Lambert has signed 19 players (3 on loan) and over half of those have been found out to be Championship quality players. In addition to costing over 13.5 million, they have simply struggled to adapt and cope with the pace of the most exciting league in the world.
After years of extraordinary and unsanctioned spending under Martin O'Neill, Randy Lerner decided to 'pull the plug' and limit Lambert's spending to only buying players who wouldn't command a substantial transfer fee and over the top wages.
No one is arguing it was an easy task overhauling an entire overpaid and ageing squad with a limited budget, but some of the signings made by Lambert have turned out to be incapable of plying their trade in the Premier League. Joe Bennett, Alexsander Tonev, Jordan Bowery, Antonio Luna and Matthew Lowton etc.
Randy Lerner is reported to be considering selling the club for around £250 million in the summer and I can see, before any eventual sale happens, why he doesn't want to give Lambert a 'mini transfer war chest'.
Not one of the 2013 NextGen Series winning squad has featured in the first team this season. The likes of exciting England under 19 international striker Callum Robinson (an unused substitute for the last few games), winger Jack Grealish (impressing out on loan at Notts County) and centre-back Janoi Donacien would probably give a better account of themselves than some of the current squad at the moment.
The signings of Christian Benteke and Ron Vlaar and resigning of keeper Brad Guzan were all master strokes by Paul Lambert, but the constant repetition of poor signings has contributed, alongside a lack of tactical awareness, to just five wins at Villa Park. Just 18 goals have been scored in 17 games with eight coming against Norwich and West Bromwich Albion.
Under Alex McLeish Villa averaged just 1 point per game at Villa Park, Paul Lambert is only averaging just over one point per game (37 from 36). McLeish's season was the worst in the club's history (as it stands), but he still didn't lose as many home games as Lambert has so far.
Another glaring problem at Villa's inconsistency week in week out.
After a 4-1 Christian Benteke inspired victory over Norwich and a well-deserved 1-0 success over league leaders Chelsea many though games against the sides with the worst away records in the league (Stoke and Fulham) would bring six points, how wrong they were.
After taking the lead against Stoke, again through Christian Benteke, Stoke's experienced side took over tearing a pitiful and embarrassing Villa side to pieces. They eventually ran out 4-1 winners and Lambert's side were booed at the final whistle.
Could it get any worst, Fulham's first victory at Villa Park for 48 years thanks to a 2-1 win meant it did. Lambert for the entirely for the match sat on the bench, completely out of his depth.
Against Liverpool in January, a team fresh off a 5-1 demolition of then league leaders Arsenal the previous week at Anfield, Villa looked set for all three points until Luis Suarez's 'dive' for a dubious penalty allowed Liverpool to escape with a point.
Four days later the momentum continued with a stunning comeback at Villa Park to local rivals West Brom, two nil down within nine minutes ended in Villa claiming local bragging rights with a atmospheric 4-3 victory. In addition the first-half performance at the fortress that is Goodison Park against Everton.
Confidence within the camp was clear as day after the results against Liverpool and West Brom and after the first half display at Goodison, leading against a depleted Everton side through Leandro Bacuna's 4th goal of the season.
Then for some reason, the tempo of the game changed. At the beginning of the second half Villa cautiously set-up camp in their own half, it was like watching Alex McLeish's Villa side all over again, sit back and play for the draw. Like expected it backfired and Villa lost the game 2-1.
Against West Ham it was nothing short of a debacle, a high-line against another depleted side, without their best striker through suspension. Two goals from West Ham captain Kevin Nolan, the first a smart flick from a Stuart Downing corner and the second after a howler from Fabian Delph gifted the Hammers the precious victory. West Ham in truth never looked like losing.
The first-half against a depleted Hammer's side was the worst I've ever seen at Villa Park. Every attack started down the right side, exploiting Matthew Lowton who has really struggled after an impressive first season in the Premier League.
Villa were back to being the inconsistent team of old.
It was obvious the squad needed strengthening in the January transfer window, but only two loan deals were done during the month. Another centre-back was essential as well as a number 10, but instead Grant Holt was signed.
After four defeats on the trot, Villa sit just four points clear of the relegation zone.