Disappointing, shocking, ridiculous and irresponsible are all words that have been used to describe Aston Villa's recent fall from grace. It is difficult to argue with the use of any of these words and more besides.
The six-goal defeat to Liverpool at Villa Park was more than just embarrassing for everyone connected with Villa, it was symbolic of the dramatic fall from grace of one of the biggest clubs in English football.
Tim Sherwood, sacked earlier in the season after poor early results marooned them to the foot of the Premier League table, last season seemed to re-invigorate the Birmingham side. For the first time since the club's glory days Villa appeared in the FA Cup final and performed well in the second half of the Premier League season to achieve Premier League safety.
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However this papered over the cracks and the old problems have since re-appeared. With what must be one of the worst series of arrivals and exits at a football club in the history of the sport, Villa's good team was torn apart.
The departures of Fabian Delph, Ron Vlaar and Christian Benteke left huge gaps in the team that would force most football clubs to go out and spend serious money on proven, high-quality players. Instead, Villa chose to bring in mostly French youngsters with no Premier League experience.
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How much of this was down to Sherwood is unclear. It seems unlikely that a manager who built a team around talented English players would suddenly have a complete change of philosophy. So the owner Lerner will rightly get much of the blame but others need to look at the part they have played.
The recruitment, particularly in the summer, has been poor. The strategy has failed emphatically and has resulted in the club's downfall. Again pinpointing exactly who to blame is difficult given the lack of direction and understanding of who does what at the club.
Remi Garde, the current manager, seemed an odd appointment to everyone. Another poor decision by the club based on the number of average French players the club had invested in during the summer window. No experience of English football and very little managerial experience in general has resulted in 12 points in 15 games.
At this rate Aston Villa will be facing a relegation battle next season in the championship as well, as most championship sides would comfortably beat this Villa team.
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