When you're on course to match the worst team in Premier League history after nearly half the season, you know you're in deep, deep trouble. That is very much the case for Aston Villa right now, with Derby County's record low points tally in danger of being broken.
We've seen miracles in the Premier League on countless occasions. West Brom pulled off a great escape in 2004/05, becoming the first team to survive after being bottom on Christmas Day. Sunderland and Leicester both put together incredible runs to save themselves last season, as did Wigan in 2011/12.
But a miracle isn't good enough for Aston Villa. We'd actually need to come up with a whole new word for what will save them now.
Villa are a 'big club', one of the seven founding members of the Premier League yet to be relegated since English football was revolutionised in the summer of 1992. And yet, their current plight doesn't even come as much of a surprise.
The decline began to set in soon after Martin O'Neill left the club in 2010 and the quality drastically dropped. After finishing 17th and narrowly avoiding relegation in 2014/15, it seemed an inevitability that Villa would be down there again come the start of the new season. Those who predicted that back in July and August (this writer included) have been proven correct.
Christian Benteke (sold), Fabian Delph (sold) and Ron Vlaar (released) all left the club in the summer and even though a spending spree facilitated the arrival of 12 new faces and the permanent signing of Scott Sinclair, none of that vital trio was adequately replaced and there were obvious gaps throughout the team.
By the time the summer spending was complete it actually looked like Villa were already preparing for life in the Championship in 2016/17, with a squad virtually devoid of Premier League quality.
Jordan Veretout, Jordan Amavi and Jordan Ayew would have been good signings for clubs like Stoke, Swansea, Crystal Palace or West Ham, providing depth where a solid squad was already in place. At Villa the demands placed on them have been unrealistic. Inexperienced and unproven talent was never going to make a poor team into a good one.
Fans briefly got excited by Adama Traore. But again, a 19-year-old with virtually no top flight experience to call on was never going to be the answer. The fact he's hardly played suggests it's obvious behind the scenes that he's no way near ready to be a regular first-teamer.
How Scott Sinclair managed to convince anyone at Villa Park he was worthy of a permanent contract is beyond comprehension and he's proved it with countless anonymous performances since.
Jose Angel Crespo's time at the club has been a complete waste of time, while Idrissa Gana Gueye does a lot of running to make it look like he's playing well, but in reality he's added very little. Rudy Gestede might actually have a chance of scoring goals with decent service but is worse than useless as things stand.
Micah Richards has been the one signing that people have highlighted as a good buy, but even the new captain has been guilty of various shortcomings. He provides last ditch heroics, but any defender forced to throw themselves in front of the ball with regularity is often making up for poorly positioning themselves in the first place.
With regard to some of the existing players, Jack Grealish has so far proved the hype that exploded around him last season was exactly that - hype. Carlos Sanchez, a star for Colombia at the 2014 World Cup, has been like a walking disaster zone in midfield. Carles Gil scored a spectacular goal in the FA Cup soon after arriving last January, but has done barely anything of note since.
There hasn't been a single redeeming feature about Villa's play this season. Often when teams are fighting relegation, there is something positive to cling to. When Leicester were rooted to the bottom of the table last they just couldn't finish their chances - but at least they were creating them. The same was evident with Watford in 2006/07, although unlike for Leicester things never quite clicked into place for the Hornets.
On the very rare occasions that Villa have actually played well (sort of) this season, they've still been beaten. For large parts of the recent game against Watford they were actually the better team, yet still ended up losing 3-2.
New manager Remi Garde has inherited an impossible task, and although a good manager, was probably the wrong choice to take the reins. The Frenchman is noted for his technical coaching and he may be able to bring out the best in the French speaking players, but it's way too late for him to have enough of an impact to make a difference.
Aston Villa will be lining up in the Championship next season and it's a real shame.
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