Dwight Yorke has warned Villa to avoid another February falter by overcoming the claret and blue curse which traditionally strikes the club around this time of year.
By Martin O’Neill’s own admission, Villa have entered the make-or-break stage of the season in their challenge for the top four Champions League places.
Villa travel to take on Fulham at Craven Cottage this afternoon, seventh in the Premier League table and with four points to make up on the top flight’s elite quartet.
But Yorke knows from bitter experience that Villa all too often get themselves into promising positions only to collapse around the second month of the year.
Villa wobbled on the home straight last season and eventually had to settle for sixth place and Yorke feels the capitulation was endemic of the club’s inferiority complex.
The former Holte End hero was on the club’s books when they finished runners-up in the top-flight title races to Liverpool and Manchester United in 1990 and 1993 under Graham Taylor and Ron Atkinson respectively.
And Yorke also experienced disappointment as a key first-teamer when the Brian Little and John Gregory eras hinted at so much but ultimately failed to live up to expectations.
“Villa seem to do all right up until February and then for some reason they just fall away,” said Yorke.
“People say it’s tiredness or injuries to players and blah, blah, blah.
“But for years you look at Villa, they look so good, but then they get to February and March and the players just stop performing.
“They look so good up to that period of time – it was the same when I was there.”
Yorke believes a change of attitude is needed at Villa Park to instil the belief in the dressing room that the players have the quality to stay the course.
He added: “I don’t know whether they’re thinking of summer-time or whatever, but that mentality in and around the place needs to change because they get themselves into some very good positions and then suddenly come right down when they really need to come through and hit the results. They just fall by the wayside.
“This season they’ve got into a decent position.
‘‘It has happened time and time and time again. You look at Villa they’re always looking good until February and then blow it – it’s incredible.”
Yorke believes Villa now have the strength in depth in their squad to mount a sustained challenge for the Champions League places.
“There’s no reason why they can’t make the top four,” he added.
“You’ve seen what it’s like at the moment, everyone is getting beat and beating everyone else.
“So it’s not impossible, but they need to find that end-of-season form when they need results to complete the season.
“They’ve got players who can come in who are equally as good.”