Sunday 23 October 2016

Fans turn on Black's boys

Aston Villa 1-2 Bournemouth

Peter Lansley

Published 10/04/2016 | 02:30

Eric Black the caretaker manager of Aston Villa. Photo: Getty
Eric Black the caretaker manager of Aston Villa. Photo: Getty
Max Gradel of Bournemouth is tackled by Aly Cissokho of Aston Villa. Photo: Getty
Ciaran Clark of Aston Villa and Dan Gosling of Bournemouth compete for the ball while empty seats are seen during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and A.F.C. Bournemouth. Photo: Getty
Steve Cook (1st R) of Bournemouth celebrates scoring his team's first goal with his team mates. Photo: Getty

It is more a matter of timing rather than plausibility, but confirmation of Aston Villa's relegation was deferred for 24 hours as their eighth consecutive defeat was accompanied by the cold comfort of defeat for Norwich City.

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Bournemouth deserved the victory, secured by goals from Steve Cook and Joshua King, that took them to 41 points and their own safety. But Villa's long membership of the top flight, stretching back to 1987, will be over today should Sunderland, who host Norwich next week, beat Leicester City. It was a numbing stay of execution.

There is a strong sense at Villa Park that things are going to get worse before they get better. Supporters booed the names of their own players when the teams were read out before kick-off, the one notable exception being Jordan Lyden, the academy graduate receiving loud applause as he prepared to make his full Premier League debut.

Villa set up cautiously, having conceded 15 goals in their past four home games during this run of seven successive defeats. Kieran Richardson, one of five changes from last week's 4-0 humbling by Chelsea, blasted a shot over from the edge of the penalty area.

Although Eric Black had clearly done his preparations as he sought his first win in three stints as a Premier League caretaker, Villa's players were understandably edgy in possession, aware that the home crowd would not take much to turn on them. Villa were jeered off at the interval after conceding two minutes into stoppage-time. Simon Francis played a short corner to Matt Ritchie, who was not tracked properly, and allowed to run on to the backheel to the byline whence he pulled the ball back for fellow defender Cook to replicate the kind of finish Jamie Vardy showed for England against Germany with a clever flick of his right heel behind the left.

Villa's players were taunted with the accusation "You're not fit to wear the shirt". Black had warned of the dangers of young players being handed an opportunity in this poisonous situation and sure enough Lyden was withdrawn at the interval. Rudy Gestede came on in the youngster's stead as Black resorted to 4-4-2. The Holte End found their voice in a more positive sense in the second half and the performance level did improve. When Jordan Ayew dribbled in from the byline to pull the ball back, it went through Richardson's legs.

Villa's eight consecutive defeat was effectively sealed 16 minutes from time when King capitalised on Ciaran Clark's poor touch and dinked the ball over Brad Guzan for his sixth goal of the season. Ayew latched on to Idrissa Gana's pass five minutes from time to score for Villa, but Bournemouth were already celebrating.

A good day was made better when Callum Wilson returned from seven months out with a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament injury. "We're Premier League," sang the travelling fans. It may be a long time before Villa supporters can make such a claim again.


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