Top Four Candidates to Relegation Contenders, will the old Villa return next season?

Posted: May 16, 2011 in Aston Villa, Football Blogs, Premier League
Tags: , , , , , ,

On the verge of breaking the elite that is the ‘Top Four’, established as one of the Premier League’s top six sides and possessing a bright young side full of potential, it is hard to believe that only twelve months ago these were the attributes of an Aston Villa side under Martin O’Neill’s management. However, after a season that only secured their Premier League survival this weekend, with a 2-1 victory over Arsenal, it is safe to say it has been a long season for the Villa faithful. Can Aston Villa expect more of the same next season or will we see the prospect of European Football return to Villa Park?

Gerard Houiller, in this writer’s humble opinion, isn’t the man to do this. The Frenchman replaced O’Neill, a man who is famous for his spiky demeanour and impulsive behaviour, but it was this personality that pushed Aston Villa closer than they had ever done to repeating the success of the 80’s. The former Liverpool manager is quite the opposite to his predecessor, reserved, ‘set in his ways’ and, lets face it, a PR nightmare (seems to display more devotion to Liverpool fans than those of Aston Villa). Aston Villa’s owner should look to replace the 63 year old with a young visionary of a manager, who could reshape the club from the bottom up.

As key as a manager is to success, the players of course must carry the burden as well. One player doesn’t make the team, but perhaps two do? In the space of a year or so, Villa lost captain Gareth Barry and inspirational winger James Milner. Despite obtaining Stephen Ireland in the Milner deal (Ireland has proved nothing but a transfer flop), the current Villa side hasn’t replaced and moved forward their young and bright team that promised so much. Such talents as Marc Albrighton, Nathan Delfouneso and Barry Bannan all show glimpses of ability but as of yet cannot be relied on, which will be a major problem for the Villains next season if Ashley Young does ‘jump ship’ to Old Trafford or Anfield.

Investment has proved to be the main factor in propelling clubs to success (Manchester City this season, for example) and as of yet it’s hard to gauge whether Randy Lerner is going to be that man to inject some cash into the club. £24 million on Darren Bent and £6 million on Jean Makoun is a good starting point, but should Stewart Downing and Ashley Young leave for rather substantial fees it is paramount that the money is bankrolled back into the team. If not, it could be argued that the couple of big money signings Lerner has done could just be him preventing his assets losing substantial value by getting relegated.

When all is said and done, one thing has to be remembered, better teams than this current crop of players have gone through the Premier League’s trapdoor.

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