Aston Villa’s match yesterday against Watford pretty much sums up the season they have had this year. With Aston Villa leading the match 2-1, they were subject to the harshness of the referee when one of their defenders, Cissokho, was sent off for supposedly denying a clear goal-scoring opportunity, even though replays showed that he had clearly made contact with the ball before bringing down Watford’s player. Then, with less than a minute left to go in stoppage time, Troy Deeney scored a late goal that equalized the match for Watford at 2-2 . Only two minutes later, he scored another goal and ripped the match right out of Aston Villa’s hands.1
The outcome of the match means that Aston Villa has lost 11 matches in a row, tying a personal record that they had set in the 1962-63 season in the old First Division. Aside from boosting team morale, the outcome of the match didn’t really matter since Aston Villa can no longer escape relegation at the end of the season. They currently sit at the bottom of the Premier League table and are 15 points away from grabbing the next spot, currently held by Norwich.1
Their fans have endured an embarrassing and demoralizing season, and as Leicester City lives the dream of being atop the best league in English football after struggling for so long, Aston Villa fans can only wonder if they will ever get their chance.
Unfortunately for Aston Villa fans, the way that the team is playing now suggests that they are by no means in a position to comfortably reclaim a spot in the Premier League by the end of the next season. In fact, there are actually fears that the team might eventually get relegated further into League 1, the third tier of English football.2
Pointing to a precedent of tumbling down the ranks set by poorly managed clubs that have been relegated from the Premier League, some have expressed concerns that Aston Villa may take a similar path. Take Nottingham Forest for example. At one point, they were atop the English footballing world enjoying a comfortable position in the Premier League. However, a combination of poor management and financial problems led them to relegation to the Football League Championship, and then again to League One, English football’s third tier. A similar fate befell Leeds United, currently in the Football League Championship. Portsmouth F.C. experienced an even worse outcome, falling from the Premier League all the way down to League Two, the fourth tier of English football.2
Although Villa’s financial situation doesn’t seem to predict the kind of financial implosion that Leeds and Portsmouth experienced, poor judgements have certainly been made within the club. Their manager, Randy Lerner, has been criticized as an owner and financial manager, but it appears that he still cares deeply about the success of the club. He has hired big names in an effort to help the club achieve success, suggesting that he is not particularly interested in stripping Villa of its assets and trying to turn a profit. Of course, Villa fans might be in trouble if he ends up selling the team to an owner or group looking to do exactly that.2
All in all, Villa definitely does not have a squad fit for the Premier League, and their fans should not be looking for their team to get promoted next year. However, with competent and dedicated management from Lerner, and determination from the players, manager, and everyone involved with the club, fans can at least be assured that their team will not get relegated any further. Perhaps they will have a spot back in England’s top league soon. And maybe, just maybe, they can avoid the paths of teams like Leeds and Portsmouth and follow the trail blazed by Leicester City instead.
- Jennings, P. (2016, April 30). Watford 3-2 Aston Villa. Retrieved May 01, 2016, from http://www.bbc.com/sport/football/36118616
- Rushton, J. (2016, April 21). Could Aston Villa suffer successive relegations? Retrieved May 01, 2016, from http://7500toholte.sbnation.com/2016/4/21/11447646/could-aston-villa-suffer-successive-relegations