One has to imagine how long Paul Lambert has left as manager of Aston Villa Football Club after his two closest lieutenants were suspended pending disciplinary hearings.
Assistant manager Ian Culverhouse and football operations manager Gary Karsa, two of Lambert's most loyal compatriots, were suspended (by exactly who is still unknown) and told to stay away from the club after accusations of bullying of fellow employees. But there is a lot more to it than that.
Villa legend Gordon Cowans and goalkeeper Shay Given have been placed in charge of first team duties alongside Paul Lambert until the end of the season.
Howard Hodgson, who has watched his beloved club since 1978, who until January was a regular match sponsor in the Directors box, revealed via his weekly report on avillafan.com (through a source attached to the club) the real reason behind the pair (Culverhouse and Karsa) being suspended, the implications make stark reading for anyone who is associated with the club.
"Gabby Agbonlahor and Fabian Delph were axed from first team duties last week after an argument between Gordon Cowans and Ian Culverhouse broke out about giving some of the youth players a chance. Gabby and Delph backed Sid (Cowans) and belittled Culverhouse, saying Sid is Villa through and through and Culverhouse knew nothing about the club. Lambert sided with his man (Culverhouse) and Gabby and Delph were subsequently dropped and fined for the Fulham game."
I can only assume Gary Karsa obviously took Ian Culverhouse's side in the argument.
Howard also revealed a father of one of the first team squad had informed him that bullying was rife at BMH (Bodymoor Heath) and that Grant Holt had been brought in to largely be Lambert and co's spy. The players cottoned on to this hence why now only a few trust Holt.
Gordon Cowans is a legend at the Aston Villa after three spells as a player that included him being part of the squads that won the 1982 European Cup, the 1980-81 league and 1982 European Super Cup. He deserves to be treated with the utmost respect from anyone working at the club.
Before his rise to temporary first team coach Sid managed the reserve team, so he should know or not which players e.g. Callum Robinson or Jack Grealish are ready to take the step-up to the first team.
Shay Given, one member of the notorious 'bomb squad' banished by Lambert, will accompany Sid alongside Lambert for the remaining five games of the season. If I was Given I would be gritting my teeth to help out faltering Villa until the end of the season.
Lambert's 20 month tenure has had its highs, but for the majority it has been filled with embarrassing lows, including a 26% win ratio that warrants the sack. Saturday's 1-0 defeat away to Crystal Palace, who now sit six points ahead of Villa after they were once eight behind, was the final snapping point for the majority of the travelling 2,500 strong claret and blue army.
During and after the game fans showcased their displeasure and anger at Lambert with a variety of chants including, “We want Lambert Out”, “You don't know what you're doing” and “f**k off Lambert”.
Could you blame them, no, watching another defeat, Villa's fourth on the trot, against a side (no disrespect to Palace) who could now claim to be bigger club than Aston Villa.
One style of dimensional tedious football in a clueless 4-4-2 formation where players were played out of position (Karim El Ahmadi at right midfield and loanee Ryan Bertrand at left midfield) resulting in only two shots on target in the whole of the match.
Are you surprised after this season why the normally passionate and patient away support reacted the way they did.
In his post-match interview Lambert said Villa deserved something from the game, nothing short of an insult to the travelling 2,500 fans. Villa had two notable shots on target in the whole game, whilst Palace hit the woodwork twice, missed a one-on-one and could of easily been awarded a penalty as well.
Treatment of players such as Alan Hutton and Charles N'Zogbia, were both banished to the 'bomb squad' at the start of the season, has been unacceptable. In addition to being given ridiculous squad numbers, CNZ was allocated 36 whilst Hutton got 41.
For large parts of the season Villa have resulted to played versatile midfielder Leandro Bacuna at right-back, due to Matthew Lowton failing to replicate the form he found in his first season in the Premier League. Bacuna's inexperience at right-back has resulted in mistakes that have cost Villa this season.
In truth Matthew Lowton isn't a Premier League right-back and Leandro Bacuna shouldn't be blamed for the mistakes he has made.
Why wasn't Hutton given an opportunity, apparently according to Lambert we couldn't play him as we would have to then pay his wages, we are paying them none the less. Instead the Scotland international was shipped out to the Championship, joining Bolton on loan until the end of the season.
He couldn't of done any worst than either Lowton or Bacuna, positionally better than Lowton and not afraid to make a full-blooded tackle.
One, if not, the biggest talking point over the last 12 months has been the lack of creativity in the Villa starting line-up. Fans have been screaming out for a 'number 10', but haven't seen anything materialise.
more pressing matter is Charles N'Zogbia, a 'number 10', being frozen
out. According to a post last week on the player's Instagram account
he was fit and ready to play, "Will I be able to train with
Lambert's explanation was N'Zogbia wasn't ready to train with the first team and was unlikely to play again this season. We still have one month left of the season, so will we see him in a claret and blue shirt at all this season or not?
Five games are left this season and Villa currently sit 14th four points above the relegation zone with a game in hand (the easy task of an away game against Manchester City.) I, like most fans, have the realistic fear of what happened to Birmingham City two years (relegated on the final day of the season at White Heart Lane against Spurs) happening to Villa come May 11th.
With the duo of Aston Villa legend Gordon Cowans and Shay Given besides Pail Lambert in the dug-out on Saturday for the game against Southampton, I have managed to find a new found optimism ahead of the game, come on Villa.
Not for one minute do I believe that this 'five year long-term plan' is taking the club anywhere, the only place it will take us is down to the Championship.