Are Expectation Levels really too high at Villa Park?

‘The expectancy levels outweigh the realism,’

Paul Lambert boldly stated in reaction to his sides loss to bottom of the table Leicester.

There is an argument that too many Villa fans are living in a time that they haven't actually experienced, a time when the name Aston Villa meant something, a time when it was a team to be feared... not only in the England but across Europe.

We have, of course, also had brief moments of glory and high points since but, have never been that dominant team everyone wanted to beat. The mid 70's and early 80's, a time when 7 or 8 teams could win the league, a time when the finances where far more even, when clubs ruled the roost not players... a time when mullets where king and Peter Withes shin was as potent as Ronaldo and Messi combined... Lets not forget the Cup success in the 90's also.

We've also had near misses, first season of the Premier League a prime example of how poor investment choices then have cost us now, we didn't capitalise on the position and strength we had and watched United do exactly that and become super powers in football, largely on the back of Premier League status and success. We also had the MoN years with an FA Cup final and a season we actually looked like challengers for Champions League football, only for this time poor investment cost the club.

Oh the highs we cry... but hang on!

We've had lows too... spending over a decade out of top flight football between the 60's and 70's, even dropping in to the 3rd tier of football for a season, and then relegation again just 6 years after winning the European Cup... all in the distant past but just as distant as the clubs most cherished moment.

Most fans want to experience the massive highs of our clubs fantastic history, that's all it is, they want the club to aspire to be great again. Most fans though understand where we're at and have an expectation much lower than that at the moment.

What they do expect, and not unreasonably so, is for a team to be competitive and to be entertained. I don't see many Villa fans "expecting" to be in the Champion League, wanting to be perhaps, but not with any "expectation". I would say expectation from the Villa faithful is at an all time low, many now turning up or tuning in to watch every game with the constant fear of losing no matter who we're playing, never have I experienced this as a Villan in my 35 years.

So are expectations too high?

Not in my opinion. All we want is some excitement Paul, we can accept we're not in a position to win every game, we accept we can't compete to buy the best, but what we can do is be organised, be ready to give it a damn good go and entertain along the way.

Losing we can take, losing while stinking the place out every week we can't!

Lambert will point to the "restrictions" or the "austerity" the club has been under. Yet take a look at the last 5 years of transfer spending, since Lerner effectively pulled the plug on the "project". Villa have and average nett spend of £5m a season. Doesn't sound a lot does it, consider Everton have an average nett spend of just £794k a season, Spurs £-4.3m a season... that's right they've sold more than they've spent yet maintained their status. Saints too have a similar spend to us and look where they are... Villa sit comfortably in mid table for spend and our apparent restrictive wage structure still allows us for one of the bigger wage bills in the premier league.His hands have not so much been tied behind his back, more he's been asked to do it in mittens.

Lambert can't hide behind the squad any more, this is now his squad, and I think most Villans can accept with the way he's had to get players in the percentage of "hits" to "misses" on transfers was always going to be low, for every Benteke theres a Helenious and Tonev. But we'll get the money back from the "flops" and Villa won't have lost too much. However that doesn't help the team now.

Given all this Lambert still has a decent squad to work with, a team full of internationals..... internationals he's chosen. But they look bereft of ideas, of motivation, of creativity.... of passion.

All in all Paul, I don't dislike you, I don't think we could attract anyone better at this point, I don't think Lerner will want to put his hand in his pocket and pay you off either, so lets start making the best of a bad situation.

Maybe Labert could raise his expectation of himself and the team?

Survival might be Lerner's only target, but that doesn't mean it has to be yours or the teams... There are examples in the Premier of teams doing it on a shoe string and doing it well, sure they're not challenging for the titles or trophies, but they're entertaining, scoring goals and giving the fans something to cheer about. With that comes confidence, and confidence can make good players seem great.. It's time for Lambert and his team to step up to the plate, expect more from them selves. We, the fans, have lowered our expectations enough, its time for you to raise your game and come meet us.

Your choice? Unfortunately for you the Villa Faithful have now drawn a line in the sand... this might be the making of you at Villa, I suspect though its too late and your too stubborn.

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Comment by McParlandTheGreat on January 14, 2015 at 20:58

World Class, I think you've misfired with this one. Two things I'll give you. We have a horrendous goal drought, put down to a lack of creativity, although I think that's a much misused word. And we're hardly the glamour team of the PL.

However, one of the things which has been evident for much of this season is a clear sense of commitment from the team. They've hung together no matter what, the defence has been very good, the whole team has kept on trying, kept on going for the full 90 minutes (unlike previous seasons) and I think the passion has been there. Mostly. We kept going in that very testing run against the top teams. I can think of just two matches where there was something worrying in the attitude. One was Everton where we were just lethargic; maybe it was a reaction from that testing run. The other was Leicester on Saturday, where I think the commitment was there but, faced with a very lively team, we came unstuck; in previous matches we looked as though we could manage our new passing style, at Leicester under pressure we looked lost. Win or lose we have to get our solidity back against Liverpool, otherwise we're in trouble. And I worry that the players may well give up if they're on the end of the booing-spree which some fans want.

I think Lambert and the team are much more ambitious than just survival. But survival matters, and we're one of a dozen or more teams which could go down. If forced to choose between entertaining and survival I'd choose survival, because all your entertainment is wiped out if you get relegated; it could effectively finish this club for ever. But I think we can, and ultimately are, aiming for more than that. Lambert has expectations in a way McLeish never did.

The problem we have is stark for all to see. We should be scoring goals, many more goals. We have many of the pieces there to do it, but there is clearly something critical missing. Lambert has to sort it. Whether he can or not time will tell. Solve it, and we will soon have something to cheer about. Everything else stems from that.

Don't worry about ambitions, expectations, or anything else of that ilk. We have to start scoring goals. It really is as simple as that


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