Peter Withe has told BBC Sport that Aston Villa were doomed from the moment they sold Christian Benteke and Fabian Delph during the summer transfer window.
Delph and Benteke completed moves to Manchester City and Liverpool respectively before the 2015/16 campaign commenced.
And Withe, who won the European Cup with the Claret and Blues, says that his former team were always destined to struggle as soon as they sanctioned both of the moves.
"To look at the games they've played and they way they've played, it's desperate - you just can't see where they're going to get the points from," he said.
"They just haven't got any confidence and to lose to Watford you're thinking maybe this is the year we go down.
"The biggest thing for me was losing Christian Benteke and Fabian Delph - if you haven't got anyone scoring the goals like Benteke did you haven't got a cat-in-hell's chance."
Villa built their team around the talents of Delph and Benteke last season, and they have found it very challenging to replace them both.
The Midlands outfit opted to bring in a number of players who had no experience of Premier League football in the summer transfer window, and it is a policy which has backfired.
Most of the Villans’ new arrivals have struggled to cope with the demands of playing in England’s top-flight, and the team have struggled as a result.
Villa are already seven points adrift of safety, and their chances of staying up appear to be getting slimmer by the week.