BBC pundit Garth Crooks has admitted that he feels sorry for Aston Villa players following their 4-0 defeat by Chelsea which pushed them closer toward the Championship.
Villa, under the stewardship of Eric Black following Remi Garde's sacking earlier this week, inspired little confidence that they can win their Premier League relegation battle with an abject display in the West Midlands on Saturday afternoon.
They remain rock bottom of the table, 15 points adrift of safety - a deficit which increased to 15 after Norwich City beat Newcastle United at Carrow Road.
Villa's playing staff have come under scrutiny for so much of the season, having won just three league games, but Crooks cannot help but feel sorry for them, noting that there is a marked lack of leadership on and off the field.
"There are Villa players who cannot cope with the demands of the Premier League. They are heading out of this league with a whimper," he said on BBC's Final Score show.
"And I actually have some sympathy for the players, because they have no leadership either on or off the field."
Crooks's sentiments might not sit well with the supporters; some sections of whom have subjected the playing staff to the 'you're not fit to wear the shirt' chant at times throughout a tough season.
There is, however, a glaring lack of big characters in this Villa side, and that does not bode well if they are expected to win promotion from a division notoriously competitive such as the Championship.