Aston Villa's shock exit in the League Cup semi-final against Second Division Bradford City, has further compounded what is turning out to be a disastrous season for the West Midlands club.
Already struggling in the Premier League, the League Cup was seen as a helpful distraction for Paul Lambert and his young squad. In truth it probably has, but losing to Bradford has now had a negative affect due to the manner in which they lost. Everyone associated with the club must now focus on survival in the league and try to forget quickly their exit on Tuesday night.
Lambert's young squad are in urgent need of experience if they are to avert relegation. Villa must target signings in what is left of the transfer window. Credit must be given to Villa for putting faith in their youth system, and not paying huge transfer fees for foreign mercenaries, but the time has now arrived where Lambert needs to bring in players with the experience of relegation battles.
Only one point above the relegation zone, zero victories in six league games and an inferior goal difference, points to the club only going one way. Scoring goals is also an issue and the over reliance on Christian Benteke to score, is starting to way heavily on the player.
Villa are already lacking in confidence and self belief, some of which they will hope to regain in the FA Cup away clash with Millwall, but it won't be an easy fixture, and many pundits may predict an upset.
The next league match against Newcastle United on Tuesday will possibly define their league season. Newcastle are also in danger and the match will not mean relegation for the losing side, but will give the victors the renewed confidence and the impetus both so badly need.
Lambert does not appear to be in immediate danger of losing his job, but defeat to Bradford coupled with an early exit from the FA Cup, and defeat to Newcastle will increase the pressure on him. The next week will be crucial to the immediate future of Aston Villa.
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