Why Aston Villa's reaction to Saturday's 0-0 draw at West Ham United shows how far standards have fallen in recent times.
With both Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert and midfielder Ashley Westwood declaring Saturday’s 0-0 draw at West Ham United as a “massive point”, one can’t help but feel their reaction highlights how far standards have fallen at the club.
Certainly, after a run of six straight defeats, finally getting a point on the board was a welcome relief to the team and supporters, but there was nevertheless a distinct lack of ambition apparent in the pair’s post-match comments which should serve as cause for concern moving forward.
"I thought we were excellent, resolute, everything you need to get anything from here,” Lambert said after the game.
"They have been playing really well. So to come here and get something is a big result for us.
"It's a great point, a really great point.
"To come here and play the way we did and be resolute the way we were, I thought we were first class. It was a massive point for us.”
Westwood added: “It was a real big point. The way we defended was good and we had chances to win it so it wasn't all backs to the wall. We could've taken all three points.
"It was a massive point. It's a tough place to come. They're on the back of a good run. We needed to pick points up and I thought we were tremendous.”
Currently sitting fourth in the Premier League table, West Ham are no doubt in good form at present, but to declare the weekend’s result as “massive” is far from what fans should want to hear from a team which was hoping to challenge for a Champions League spot only five seasons ago, when a trip to Upton Park would be seen as three potential points.
Villa remain one of the supposed “sleeping giants” of the top-flight but, after three relegation-threatened campaigns under Alex McLeish and then Lambert, it’s become apparent that a severe malaise has set in.
Want-away owner Randy Lerner certainly had ambition when he first arrived at Villa Park, investing upwards of £300 million since his £62 million takeover in 2006, but resources have noticeably dried up after the 2009-10 season failed to produce a top-four finish.
With Martin O’Neill departing that same summer, Villa have since failed to come anywhere close to matching the same standards reached under the Northern Irishman and, judging by the general sentiment around the club at present, they aren’t aiming to either.
Lerner continues to search for potential buyers for the west midlands outfit, but it’s telling that he has reportedly been forced to cut his original asking price of £200 million by half, despite claims of various interested parties from overseas.
“Transition” is the word which continues to be associated with Villa in recent seasons, but there has been little sign of progress since Lambert took over, and the uncertain futures surrounding star men Ron Vlaar and Fabian Delph suggest the team could be taking another step backwards in the coming months.
One need only look at Southampton to see how a sensible leadership can take a club to newfound heights, and the claret and blue faithful will have to hope that a new, ambitious owner arrives as soon as possible to instil some much needed drive into the setup.
For now, with Lambert secured to a new four-year deal and Lerner clearly disinterested, all supporters can seemingly look forward to is another season spent fighting in the bottom half of the table.