By Robson Sharuko
Marvelous Nakamba was the only player praised by manager, Dean Smith, on Monday night after a 0-4 thrashing at the hands of Leicester City led one pundit to describe Aston Villa as the worst team in the English Premiership.
The Warriors’ star was singled out by Smith as the only Villa player who put in a decent shift in that horror show at the King Power Stadium.
“One of my biggest disappointments today was that we gave away the ball too often, probably with the exception of Marvelous, who I thought was our best player on the night. I thought we were too loose in possession,” Smith told Sky Sports after the match.
The manager repeated his sentiments during the post-match media conference.
“I thought Marvelous Nakamba was very good tonight,” he said. “His performance was what I want to see more of the team.
“We seem to be making a lot of individual errors if you want to win games at this level.”
Villa have now lost four games on the bounce and it doesn’t get any easier from here as they have two home games against Chelsea and Wolves and an away assignment at Liverpool.
Then, they will host Manchester United and Crystal Palace before visiting Goodson Park for a battle against Everton, followed by matches against Arsenal and West Ham.
The dates of their other fixtures against Sheffield United and Newcastle are yet to be confirmed.
Smith had praised Nakamba, ahead of the match against the Flying Foxes, saying the midfielder’s show in the Carabao Cup final defeat to Manchester City was the kind of performance that could lift his men from relegation trouble.
“It was a difficult night for us,” Nakamba told the official Villa website. “We’re really disappointed, even more so for the fans, they are really disappointed also.
“We feel what they’re going through, we feel the pain. We can’t change what’s happened in the past now. As a group, we just need to give once more 100 percent. I think we still have some games to play, some points to play for.
“I believe inside the dressing room, I believe in the players. We just have to up our game, we just have to support each other and give 100 percent — everyone.”
Villa were savaged by their former player, Andy Townsend, who is now one of the leading pundits at Sky Sports. He said they looked like the worst team in the English Premiership with their lifeless show on Monday night.
“They (have) played a lot of teams that are down (on the table) already, tonight that’s unacceptable,” said Townsend in his analysis just after the match.
“Pepe Reina’s mistake, first and foremost, gifted Leicester a goal, bad decision but they have no spirit, no fight, no cohesion, no desire to really try and turn things around genuinely. If you are a Villa fan, this evening, you’re the worst team in the league, I think you are, I think they are the worst team in the division even though Norwich are technically below you.
“I think Norwich have got more spirit about them than Villa right now.
“John Terry, Richard O’Kelly, the coach, the manager they will be saying at this team every day, every day, don’t give away bad goals, make sure you stay nice and compact, don’t be easy to beat, don’t do this, don’t do this.
“And, yet, every reminder they get told and the team are going in the opposite direction, they are so easy to get at, so easy to score against, so easy to break down and I’m afraid, at the moment, it’s relegation written all over unless something very radical happens with their mindset.’’
Townsend said the players have to take the blame.
“By the way, the manager has to front it up, and take a lot of criticism, for this but those players, there isn’t even one amongst them tonight who did anything, they wilted this season, visibly wilted, there was no resistance whatsoever and without that I can’t make a case for them to survive,’’ he said.
“I dearly want my old club to survive, it’s a big club, it’s a proper club but they are not playing like a proper club. Leicester didn’t have to play that well, if they had played well tonight it would have been six or seven, if Vardy had started tonight, with their best team, they would have run a cricket score, they don’t have a goal threat, they had one shot on target tonight, from the right back.’’
Steve McManaman, the former Liverpool star, said Villa were in a shambles.
‘‘Aston Villa have a collection of players who don’t know how to play together, a lot of them look unfit, which is an incredible thing to say when you are in the middle of March,’’ he said in his television analysis.
‘‘They were all over the place tonight, if you look at the bottom five or six teams, the worst team is Aston Villa.’’ The Herald