We all knew this year would be interesting. Be it relegation struggles, FA Cup runs, League Cup semi-final embarrassments or something else, one could argue it’s never dull with the Villa.
This season has perfectly encapsulated the emotions of being a Villan. Plenty of Villa fans didn’t mind us being relegated, after years of flirting with the drop. It was clear we were in need of serious rebuilding, and things started in earnest under new ownership. There were plenty unsure of Dr Tony Xia, but he has absolutely put his money where his mouth is, and showed he isn’t afraid of making the tough decisions.
RDM was hired and fired, and we’ve seen plenty of new faces come through the door. Even the period under Steve Bruce has been pretty up and down. A good start moved on to a disastrous month or so that has probably cost us a chance at the playoffs this season.
Still, and for the first time in a long time, there seems to be (*whispers quietly) real optimism surrounding the club. We’re winning games, we’re not conceding, and have the basis of one of our best squads in a long time. After years of dross, I’ll take winning a game however it comes. I was firmly behind the appointment of Steve Bruce, simply because he knows how to get out of this division. This is starting to show in the last couple of months, with 3 points coming our way more regularly than they have in a long time.
The questions remains for AVFC, what next? It would take a minor miracle for us to go up this season, but it’s still a possibility and we’re still winning, so let’s not rule anything out. It would be classic Villa for us to somehow make the playoffs after all the turmoil this campaign. There are some who argue that it’s too soon for us to get promoted and we could do with at least another season of laying foundations. I don’t really buy into that myself, you take promotion if offered to you….this league can be damn hard to get out of as we’ve seen with many other ‘big clubs’.
In all likelihood, we’ll finish comfortably top half, and then this preseason is where the real work begins. As mentioned, I really do think we have the basis of a very good squad, so I wouldn’t expect a plethora of new additions. The likes of Gil, Veretout and McCormack will have to have their futures addressed, same with Johnstone in goals (who himself was receiving plenty of criticism during our rough spell).
What would be nice, and for the first time in a long time, is to have a relatively drama free spell at Villa. Let this team grow, let Steve Bruce do his thing, and hopefully this great club will be back in the Premier League in no time.