It can be a strange old game, soccer.
Aston Villa are one of the oldest and most successful clubs in the English Premier League, having won the league and the FA Cup seven times respectively. Villa have a proud heritage, and are also one of only five English clubs to have won what is now known as the Champions League.
With a trophy haul accumulated over time to rival that of Manchester United and Liverpool, a club as prestigious as Villa must surely be up there with the Premier League’s elite clubs?
No, they aren’t.
Villa currently lie among the doldrums of the league, languishing in 17th place just three points off the relegation places. With the haunting spectre of the championship staring them in the face, it’s a difficult time to be a Villa fan.
So what went wrong? The most ardent of fans would be hard pressed to point the finger at anyone other than Doug Ellis, whose lack of ambition was cited by some as the reason Villa failed to attract top players.
However, there are those who have called this short-sighted seeing as Ellis bankrolled John Gregory‘s tenure when Villa were one of the leagues top spenders. The blame could possibly lie at Gregory’s feet for not making smart enough signings, but that is a matter of opinion.
The general consensus among Villa fans is that the team’s downfall is a result of several factors:
a) Paul Lambert‘s and Alex McLeish‘s signings simply haven’t been good enough for a club of Villa’s stature. Other than the £10 million signing of Christian Benteke, it has to be said that the acquisitions of players like Matt Lowton, Joseph Bennett and Jordan Bowery weren’t the stellar signings Villa fans wanted.
b) The current crop of players aren’t playing well, and Villa fans are quick to blame the manager as a result. However, it’s hard to argue with their findings in that respect, as it’s the manager who sets the team up tactically and should the team not be performing, it’s the manager who takes the brunt of the fans anger first.
c) Perhaps the most important factor in Villa’s slide to the depths of the league is the ineffective blend of youth and experience that they have employed this year. Villa have a few experienced players on large contracts who seem to lack the motivation that the team requires to drag themselves out of their current predicament.
Likewise, they also have too many young players that lack the experience necessary for a relegation scrap and are too eager to please. This imbalance of players has led to Villa having players all pulling in different directions and lacking the harmony required to put together a sustained run of positive results.
Villa have a talented team, no doubt about it, and with the right tweaks here and there, they could once again find themselves competing for honors again. Unfortunately, they may have to regroup next year and make those changes from the Championship.
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