Aston Villa are on the brink of relegation for the first time since 1987.
Aston Villa have endured a torrid season to date. They currently sit in 20th position, eight points adrift of 19th-placed Newcastle and the Relegation zone. To the outsider it may not seem out of reach for Villa to rectify their season and avoid relegation, however to many observers of the game this side has been bereft of confidence and it is only a matter of when their relegation is confirmed. So how has this club, with a proud and prestigious history found themselves in this predicament?
To the Villa faithful, the main culprit is club chairman Randy Lerner. The American has been unpopular to the claret and blue army of Birmingham for sometime and it was clearly evident in the 3-1 defeat to Everton on Tuesday as many fans left on the 74th minute of the game, in what was called the “out the door on 74.” A statement that harks back to the club’s establishment in 1874. As mentioned previously, Aston Villa have a prominent history. They were one of the founding members of the Football League in 1888 and are the fifth most successful English club based on major honours. Villa’s decline has been long and turgid, it could be argued that they have been lucky to escape relegation, having flirted around the summit of the table for the past five years since Martin O’ Neill’s shock resignation five days before the opening day of the 2010-11 season. What has irked the Villa fans the most about Lerner is his reluctant to spend money and bolster the squad (the reason why O’Neill left), however when he has it’s become detrimental to the club’s progression. For example the signing of Darren Bent was seen by many as Villa’s attempt to certify their status as one of the elite clubs of the Premier League. However this did not come to fruition as Bent wasn’t a hit in the second city, although he was the club’s top goalscorer for two years. The ex- Sunderland striker cost £27,000 per touch as Villa were desperate to get their £24 million flop off their books. He eventually left last summer after being ostracised from the first team and being sent out on loan numerously.
This campaign has unsurprisingly been full of turbulence. The club sold key players Christian Benteke and Fabian Delph to Liverpool and Manchester City respectively. The club’s major concern is the lack of firepower especially since the sale of the Belgium international. His replacement, Rudy Gestede has showed flashes of brilliance but only has five goals in twenty-four league games. The self-assured Tim Sherwood was given his marching orders in October of last year after six consecutive league losses. Off the pitch, other than Lerner’s reluctance to spend. The Villa players have hardly given the fans a vote of confidence, with defender Joleon Lescott’s “entirely accidental” tweet of his Mercedes after the 6-0 drubbing by Liverpool and starlet Jack Grealish’s constant partying that has infuriated manager Remi Garde.
With only two months remaining of the season, Aston Villa face an uphill battle to retain their status as one of the seven founding Premier League clubs not to have been relegated. This is one of the most pivotal moments in the club’s recent history as they could potentially face a long exile from the top flight a la Leeds United, Nottingham Forest, Sheffield Wednesday etc.