All Is Darkness

It's not the end of the world. It only feels that way.
It’s not the end of the world…yet.

An 0-1 loss at home in a game we desperately needed to win. That’s 4 points from 6 games, for those of you who track such arcane statistics. At this rate, we’re on track to finish the season with 25 points and a one-way ticket to the Championship. All that while scoring a whopping 1 goal per game!

You could argue that we’ve faced reasonably stiff opposition. Of the 5 teams that have beaten us, 3 are currently in the top 8. (Manchester United in 2nd place, Crystal Palace in 8th, Leicester City in 4th.) But then picture our draw against last-place Sunderland, and try not to think of all the tough teams we have yet to play.

Yes, we were missing Gana and the exciting Traore, but we can hardly be said to have been decimated by injury. If we don’t have a deep enough squad for a derby clash against a team that, face it, isn’t really better than us, it doesn’t bode well for the future. Tomorrow’s League Cup game against Birmingham City, for example.

Anyone feeling confident about that? I’m still thinking about taking the afternoon off work, but only so my colleagues won’t see me crying at my desk.

Tim: "Maybe you can explain this whole 'seeing out a win' thing over a pint, Tony?"
Tim: “Maybe you can explain this whole ‘seeing out a win’ thing over a pint, Tony?”

Where Is Our Messiah Now?

It’s only fair to give Sherwood more time. The Marie Antoinettes calling for his head seem not to have learned that axing managers in rapid fashion is no guarantee of either short- or long-term success. I will guard against despair in the same way I cautioned against euphoria when Sherwood’s arrival coincided with promising early returns.

But it’s worth bearing in mind that this is the worst start to a Villa season since 1986−87. When they were relegated.

I want to believeBad as the Lambert era was, even he never started a season with results this poor. In terms of overall winning percentage, Lambert finished with a 34-26-55 record, and a 29.57 winning percentage. Sherwood still has a 46% winning percentage—but only if you factor in his spell at Tottenham. At Villa, he is 9-2-12, with a 39.13% win rate. One more loss and we may hear a Scots brogue creep into Sherwood’s post-match insistence that, “We’ll go again.”

Like Fox Mulder, I want to believe, but Sherwood’s still track record as a manager is still very much a work in progress. And our belief in him remains purely a matter of faith.

Chelsea rising: the table on Monday morning.
Chelsea rising: the table on Monday morning.