Former Aston Villa manager Graham Taylor says that his old club are now in serious danger of relegation from the Premier League - and that an escape is looking 'very unlikely'.
At the halfway point of the top flight season, rock bottom Villa are 11 points adrift of safety going into Saturday's trip to nearest rivals Sunderland.
"You've got to always believe," Taylor told BBC Radio 5 live.
"But they are now in serious trouble and I don't see them escaping."
The man who took Villa back to the top flight
Villa have not been in the second tier of English football since former Watford boss Taylor himself led Villa, relegated a year earlier, to promotion from the old Division Two in 1988, in his first season in charge.
He went on to lead Villa to second behind league champions Liverpool in 1990, prior to taking the England job.
The club were in decline when Taylor returned for a second 15-month spell in charge in February 2002.
But, although Villa became a force again when new American owner Randy Lerner arrived in 2006, preceded by the appointment of Martin O'Neill as manager, a lack of significant investment over the last few seasons has seen the club become annual relegation candidates.
"Things haven't been right at Villa Park for some considerable time now," added Taylor. "The position that they're in has been coming. It has been there to see for anyone who has any sort of football knowledge to know they're in trouble. I don't think its been arrested properly.
"The players themselves, particularly those who have just been signed, won't feel it's their fault that they're in this position.
"They've got to hope and put their minds to getting the points and believing they can escape. But I have to say it's looking very unlikely."
The man trying to keep Villa in the top flight
Aston Villa had lost seven Premier League games on the spin prior to Remi Garde coming in on 3 November, to succeed Tim Sherwood.
Since then, while Garde waits for the transfer window to reopen, they have drawn four of his eight games in charge, sharing the spoils with Manchester City and West Ham United at home, while earning an away point at Southampton and Newcastle.
But they are averaging less than a goal per game (15 from 19 Premier League matches) and were well beaten at Everton (4-0) and Norwich (2-0), as well as losing at home to both Watford (3-2) and Arsenal (2-0).
Their only Premier League win remains the 1-0 victory at Bournemouth on the very first day of the season, and their 18-game winless run since is already a club record.
Added to that, their only Villa Park victory so far this term has been in the League Cup at home to Championship side Birmingham City.