Tony Dorigo fears the writing is on the wall for rock-bottom Aston Villa, who are six points adrift at the foot of the Premier League.
The Midlands club have flirted with relegation over the past few seasons, only to grind out results when needed to secure their top-flight status.
But the July departure of Christian Benteke to Liverpool has left them desperately short of attacking options – Villa have scored the joint-fewest goals in the league this term (13) – and they have mustered only six points from the first 15 games.
And former England defender Dorigo – part of the last Villa team to drop out of the top tier in 1986-87 – believes the rot has set in.
Dorigo told the Mirror: “Villa have recently sold their best players and had to make do with what they can find. To find a Benteke or someone like that is very difficult. It has been quite a few years of steady decline and you wonder where it will end?
“But if you look at the decline over a number of years, it is inevitable where they will end up. I think what is alarming is the home form has been incredibly bad over a number of years.
“And this season their record at Villa Park is absolutely shocking [winless at home in the league this season].
“I played there a number of years and the support you get is fantastic, plus the facilities – everything is geared up to do well.
“But at the same time when things go bad, having a lot of fans dissenting doesn’t help either. They are in a real muddle.”