22 Feb Aston Villa boss Smith embarrassed after Southampton defeat
Angry Dean Smith told his under-performing Aston Villa players they have played themselves out of next week’s League Cup final after the 2-0 defeat at Southampton.
Villa’s relegation fears deepened after goals from Shane Long and Stuart Armstrong condemned them to a third straight loss.
The visitors did not muster a single shot on target in a dismal display which will set more alarm bells ringing in the west midlands.
The relegation battle will be put to one side next weekend when Villa face Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final,
But on this evidence they could be in for a Wembley mauling, and Smith is now threatening to wield the axe.
The Villa boss said: “My feelings are embarrassment with the performance. The thing that hurts me the most is a lack of fight.
“I take full responsibility. It has to be the lowest of the low. The defeat at Watford was bad but this was on a par.
“They’ve let themselves down with their own personal performances. We got beaten and deservedly so.
“There were too many training-ground players. You’ve got to perform on a match day and too many players didn’t.
“Our quality just wasn’t there today. Some of them have played their way out of a cup final.”
Long struck after eight minutes when he bundled in Moussa Djenepo’s cut-back at the near post.
The Irish striker can hardly be described as a prolific goalscorer unless, it seems, he is playing Villa. This was his seventh goal in his last seven appearances against them.
Villa never threatened to get back into the game. The closest they came to forcing an equaliser was substitute Trezeguet’s effort which fizzed across goal and wide.
And it was goalkeeper Pepe Reina’s futile foray forward for a stoppage-time corner which allowed Armstrong to break away and hit the second.
It was a vastly improved display from Southampton following last weekend’s home defeat by Burnley, and moved them to the relative safety of 34 points.
“It was very important to show a reaction after the last home game and the way we started was what we wanted to do today,” said manager Ralph Hasenhuttl.
“We had 28 shots and that shows how dominant we have been. It was a fantastic atmosphere and the guys enjoyed it. It’s important to have a fortress here again.”