This Midlands derby defeat for Aston Villa, at the hands of West Brom, means that the coming one, against Birmingham in the League Cup, has a significance that it otherwise might not have had.
West Brom had come to Villa Park in need of a pick me up and within 60 seconds Rondon had forced a great save from the home team’s keeper.
That was the start of a long day for Villa, and that was just what they didn’t want after blowing a two goal lead against Leicester last week (although as the weekend shows, that’s not exactly a one-off).
This team has lost key players, but that’s no excuse for a start to the league campaign which has them sitting in 17th place after this match.
Ironically, the goal scorer on the day was none other than Saido Berahino who, of course, had determined never to play for West Brom again in the aftermath of them denying him a big money move to Spurs during the recent transfer window.
He was smiling as he came off after the hour mark, and the fans applauded him.
There’s nothing like a derby goal to encourage forgiveness and forgetfulness all round I guess.
He struck six minutes from half time, leaving the gloomy home crowd in pensive mood going into the break, having watched their side huff and puff.
The day didn’t get any better for them, as the second half saw them resort to playing a long-ball game, which Martin Keown labelled “desperate stuff” during the coverage on the BBC.
And desperate stuff it is at the moment for Villa supporters, who probably weren’t expecting to reach the Champions League spots but certainly hadn’t anticipated bobbing just above the relegation ones.
Tim Sherwood has called this a “transitional period” for the club, but with six losses in his last eight games as manager he must realise that the most likely transition will be him leaving if this goes on much longer.
Man of the Match:
In a world of big money footballers, the free transfer signing of Darren Fletcher is an astonishing piece of business, and he ran the midfield here with ease.