By Christopher Boulay
Aston Villa have come up short in their Europa League playoff to Rapid Vienna (photo), losing the second leg 2-1 and 3-2 on aggregate.
The news of this loss cannot come at a worse time for the Villians, as they are still reeling from their 6-0 shellacking at the hands of Newcastle United over the weekend. But before we get to the repercussions from this match, let’s get the rundown: Gabriel Agbonlahor opened the scoring in the 22nd minute and Villa were able to hang on to the slender aggregate lead until halftime. Atdhe Nuhiu (a name I still cannot figure out how to pronounce, no matter how hard I try) put Rapid on level terms in the 52nd, and for a while, it looked like the match at Villa Park would be headed to extra time. But a goal flurry, despite Emile Heskey’s 77th minute goal that gave Villa the lead, turned out to be all for naught. This would prove to be the end of Villa’s scoring in Europe. Heskey’s score was a bit of a redeemer because only a short time earlier, team captain Stilliyan Petrov struck a poor penalty that was saved by Rapid’s keeper Raimund Hedl and Heskey put a golden opportunity over the bar.
Villa fans had little time to celebrate Heskey’s strike, as Rapid scored twice and iced the match and the trip to the Europa League group stages. Mario Sonnleitner scored in the 78th, and Rapid’s final sub, Rene Gartler (photo) put in the final goal in the 81st minute.
Villa had some good chances, but overall were the weaker side throughout the match. Awful play from Nigel Reo-Coker and a poor performance from goalkeeper Brad Guzan showed that the season is starting to really go off course for the Villians.
The hot seat for Kevin MacDonald may have just reached unbearable temperatures, as he has managed only a win against West Ham, the loss against the Magpies and now the embarrassment against the Austrian side at Villa Park. If Villa’s brass don’t make a change soon, not only could their Premier League play suffer, but this will absolutely infuriate the supporters, which will only make the situation worse.
Villa need a new manager. MacDonald has proven that he isn’t the man for the job. The club looks flat, and they really don’t seem to have that fire that a team needs to compete at the level they are expected to be at. A disciplinarian would be a good fit, and even though United States national team manager Bob Bradley is interested, he apparently has heard nothing from Villa. Not that he would be the only choice, but he certainly would be a good fit for the side. Other suggestions could be Slaven Bilic, the Croatian national team manager, or Roy Keane