From lifting the European Cup in 1982 to sitting rock bottom of the Premier League in 2016, what has happened at Aston Villa Football Club? Their recent demise has caught the eye of national media outlets and they have subsequently transformed into the laughing stock of English football.
Undoubtedly, Villa are one of the biggest clubs in the country and their plight seems unstoppable at the moment. The present season is the Birmingham based side’s 105th in the top tier, but relegation to the Championship looks to be a certainty. Currently managed by Frenchman Remi Garde, The Villans are the basement side in the Premier League and they are 8 points from safety as things stand.
From their 28 fixtures so far they have only picked up a meagre return of 16 points. After an opening day victory over Bournemouth at Dean Court, supporters of Aston Villa would have been hoping for a positive season. However, their celebrations of that win were to be savoured as their next league victory didn’t come until the 12th of January. Progressing in the Capital One Cup at the expense of fierce rivals Birmingham City would have been a slight relief back in September, but scenes at Villa Park have certainly been gloomy.
With Tim Sherwood receiving the axe from his managerial position in October, Garde was faced with a mammoth task of rejuvenating a group of dejected players. The fan base continued to grow frustrated and despite recent form improving slightly, Villa are planning for second tier football next season. Only a handful of games remain and the majority of football fans have already dismissed any potential survival hopes.
Of course, Leicester City were in a similar situation last season and they somehow escaped the drop. This will give the most eternally optimistic of Villa fans some hope. However, things at Villa Park are a whole lot worse than they were at The Foxes. The atmosphere is toxic throughout the club and this is down to off-field debacles more than the dross that is being displayed on the pitch. It’s yet another case of a careless, clueless owner dismantling a football club and alienating its fan base in the process.
Plenty of clubs have fell victim of such poor ownership; Coventry City, Portsmouth, Leeds United and Bolton Wanderers all immediately spring to mind. Will Aston Villa be the next in line to be added to the ever growing list of clubs who fail to bounce back? It’s a real fear for the Midlands outfit and a host of pundits are already backing them to struggle in the Championship should their inevitable relegation come to fruition.
As a Coventry supporter myself, I know what it’s like to be on the wrong end of results. We have ourselves been shafted by various parties for years and we are now in League One as a result, albeit with a chance of promotion this season. The way in which Randy Lerner, Tom Fox, Hendrik Almstadt and Paddy Reilly have conducted themselves behind the scenes at Villa is truly disgusting.
With all rivalries aside, it’s horrible to witness any club go through such periods of turmoil. Unfortunately though, it’s becoming a regular occurrence in this country and it’s spanning from the Premier League down to the lower ebbs of Non-League football – Hereford United going bust being a prime example. Football is being destroyed by selfish businessmen and the reputation along with the history of many clubs has been tarnished as a consequence.
Dropping down a division may not prove to be the killing of Aston Villa, however, providing they rebuild accordingly in the summer. Fans aren’t expecting investment though, and as already mentioned, this could see the club slip into free fall. With half of the current playing staff out of contract at the conclusion of the 2015/16 campaign, Remi Garde could be left with a very bare changing room, that’s if he’s still in charge of course.
The future of the club certainly hangs precariously in the balance but things don’t look too bright. Everyone associated with the club will spend the next few months praying that Randy Lerner and his mob hastily exit Villa Park. The question is, however, how much mess would any departure leave behind?