A club like Aston Villa should not be in the Championship.
It is hard to imagine that a club that has won the European Cup, 7 league titles, 7 FA Cup titles, 5 League Cup titles and a UEFA Super Cup has found itself struggling to get out of The Championship.
The Steve Bruce led side are currently fourth on the league table & back in the playoff places after recent wins against Middlesbrough, Bristol City & Nottingham Forest. These good results were much needed after a worryingly barren December.
This upturn in form is welcome, but the December wobble served to illustrate that securing promotion this season is crucial.
Financially, everything is finely balanced given that our TV revenue has dramatically reduced, the restrictive nature of Financial Fair Play & Parachute Payments soon coming to an end. It’s therefore no surprise to see the club trying to diversify it’s approach with new initiatives like £1 kids tickets (vs Peterborough) or by looking to earn earn extra cash online by streaming live games for international fans via AVTV.
It’s a reflection of how far we’d fallen behind in most areas of the club, as we went from competitive Premier League mainstays to becoming seasonal relegation candidates. We were as amateurish off the pitch as we were on it. The relegation was as predictable, as it has been hard to recover from.
With the likes of Wolves & Derby County currently setting the pace at the top of the table (and currently on course for automatic promotion), it seems that Villa will look to use the playoff places as the most likely route back to the top flight.
For a club of Aston Villa’s stature, we shouldn’t be in the second tier of English football as our successes, fanbase, stadium, history, pedigree and overall stature means that we should be among the elite of football clubs in England, and not mired in mediocrity.
Villa undoubtedly has some good players, most notably John Terry, perhaps the greatest player to Captain Chelsea in the modern era.
While the 37 year old is no longer the force of he used to be, his reputation as one of the greatest English defenders is backed up by the honours he’s won, and his leadership and ability to set good examples on the pitch is crucial to letting the other players know we can achieve promotion. His impressive performances this season in a Villa shirt have been evidence of this.
Whilst not in the same league as Terry, there are a number of other good players in the squad such as Jonathan Kodjia, Jack Grealish & Albert Adomah – but few would disagree that the club would be forced to recruit heavily should we gain promotion.
The clubs owner, Tony Xia is a self proclaimed lover of football who has shown a willingness to spend, but like any Chairman will only spend when absolutely necessary.
Should we gain promotion this season automatically or through the playoffs, we must make survival our priority and not think we are back where we belong without putting in the work & investment required to keep ourselves in the division. We lost our way badly in our final years in the Premier League and mustn’t repeat the mistakes that saw us ultimately crash out of the division.
First though, Steve Bruce must make this team – his Villa team – more consistent and difficult to beat. The recent revival is welcomed, but it must continue and become our ‘norm’.
These five months will be crucial, not just for Bruce, but for how the future pans out for Aston Villa.
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