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Aston Villa’s Season : Double Relegation?

Aston Villa Football Club are an important club to the premier league and are one of the most popular English Teams supported across the world. They are backed by the Royal Prince himself and current Conservative party leader and Primeminister of England David Cameron. However, the support of the world’s Elite and the millions of global support has not been able to stop the ever sinking ship that is Aston Villa F.C. Once a top four club always competing in Europe’s biggest tournaments and attracting some of the biggest names in football, the Claret and Blues have been flirting with relegation for around 5 years now, just about managing to scrape out of it with a few games remaining. If they can avoid the drop to the Championship this season, it surely will be one of the greatest ever relegation escapes ever witnessed in this already bizarre Premier League season.

Before the start of the season many Villa fans would have been buzzing for the start of the season, after avoiding relegation, beating West Bromwich in an epic double win twice in a week, and competing at Wembley in the FA Cup Final. Manager Tim Sherwood had already bought in 11 Players, practically a whole new squad ready for the 2015/2016 season ready for business with some big and inspiring signings. Rudy Gestede came to the Midlands from Blackburn Rovers. A great striker known for his aerial ability and goal scored with headers. Adama Traroe was imported from Barcelona’s youth academy. At only 19 years old he was already becoming such an exciting player as he excelled in the UEFA Champions Youth League and was dominating players using his strength and pace. One of the most prolific goal scorers in Europe, or two so to speak, joined the Premier League in 2015 also, the Ayew brothers signed for Aston Villa and Swansea respectively. Jordan Ayew signed from French giants Marseille in the hope of more trophies to add to his collection, and shortly after his brother Andre would follow from the same club but instead cross the border to Wales and put pen to paper for Swansea City F.C.

Another player from Ligue 1 would join the squad as Senegalese midfielder Gueye joined from Lille after spending five years in the French top division. France was certainly a strong link in the transfer window as Jordan Veretout would settle in the Midlands after being bought from Nantes. Veretout is an aspiring French first team international as he has featured predominantly in all of the youth teams for France and coming through the under 21s and competing in the U21 World Cup in Turkey. A blast from the past would also add in experience to the defence of Aston Villa as Micah Richards was signed by Villa. The previous season he failed to make a good enough impression at Italian side Fiorientina and soon returned back home to English Football. A great partnership was expected to gel together blissfully as Joleon Lescott crossed the Midlands to join Rivals Aston Villa from West Bromwich Albion. Adding a great deal of experience of the Premier League and International knowledge made Villa’s defence quite impressive, featuring Richards, Lescott, Hutton and Clark… Roll on the season.

The start of the season they travelled to Bournemouth, the Premier League new boys. Bournemouth stunned the Championship, coming out of the blue to run away with the title and win the League with ease under young, fresh faced manager Eddie Howe. Both clubs were eager for the new season to start. It would be Aston Villa who won the game after finally breaking the deadlock thanks to a Rudy Gestede header, showing the Villa fans what the club had bought him for, winning games with a dominating aerial presence. All smiles so far for the Claret and Blues. The next two games saw them narrowly lose to both Manchester united and Crystal Palace by a one goal deficit. Next up was League One side Nottingham County. Amid the scares and shocks, Aston Villa won 5-3 after extra time, despite the lower league side taking the lead three times over their Premier League opponents. Back to business in the Premiership and things did not improve. The next three games didn’t see a win and only 1 point after a 2-2 draw with fellow relegation favorites Sunderland. On the 19th and the 22nd of September Villa Park would host both West Midlands rivals West Bromwich Albion and Birmingham City. West Bromwich Albion were out for revenge and Aston Villa were desperate to hold on to their bragging rights after they defeated the Baggies twice at home in the space of 5 days. It was the Albion who would have the last laugh as misfit striker Saido Berahino would make amends with fans and Manager Tony Pulis after bagging the winner and handing another loss to Villa.

On the 22nd of September the biggest derby in England would take place. Villa hosted City. Villa narrowly beat Nottingham County and were drawn against bitter rivals Birmingham City in the next round. More to the joy of Birmingham at the present time as Aston Villa had only won one game and Birmingham were revived and sitting in the top 8 of the Championship, all thanks to the mastermind and former player Gary Rowett. A lot less fear was shown in the Birmingham squad, but it was a game that Villa could not afford to lose. The league was not important, points and goals were not important, this game had to won for the fans and for any player wearing Claret and Blue. Villa won 1-0 after Rudy Gestede put the home team in front sparing blushes and sending Villa Park into pandemonium. They awaited fellow Premier League side Southampton in the next round. 4 games had to be played before the League cup tie and not a single game was won. It also saw the end of Tim Sherwood’s reign at Villa Park as they simply could not win a game, fans were getting agitated and something had to be done. He was relieved of his duties after being knocked out of the Capital One Cup by Southampton losing 3-2 at Saint Mary’s. Kevin MacDonald would take charge for one game against league title chasers Tottenham, who ran out winners at White Hart Lane.

Remi Garde would take charge of Aston Villa as he stepped in to take control and sort out Villa’s relegation scrap and also try to aid them in getting win in which they were certainly missing, only winning one game in the current campaign. It wouldn’t be an easy start as they faced Premier League Title holders Manchester City in Birmingham. It came as a shock to many as Villa were very dominant and organized and earned a draw as both teams could break the deadlock. Things looked slightly more optimistic and it was back to the training pitch with a little more faith than before. Hopes would be tarnished soon after as Villa didn’t earn a win for the next 8 games in the Premier League. They only managed three points from three draws, still sitting rooted to the bottom of the League. At least he could focus on an F.A cup run, the previous year they reached the final at Wembley Stadium, only to be thrashed 4-0 by Arsenal. Nevertheless, its F.A cup magic that can spark joy and happiness into fans. Or in Villa’s case, more anger and more frustration, some even venting out their anger physically and verbally as players were bombarded as they drew with Wycombe Wanderers who were competing in League Two. Feeling embarrassed, fans wanted answers and they ambushed the team coach to confront some players and coach Remi Garde. The heat was increasing on the Job and Villa couldn’t possibly go down, they are currently one of 7 teams never to be relegated since the Premier Leagues creation in 1992. Surprisingly after all the madness, Aston Villa returned home to scrape a victory against Crystal Palace. A header from Lescott found the ball scramble of the line as Wayne Hennessey fumbled the ball to concede a vital goal. Remi Garde has his first win as manager but it was still a long way to go to survive. The Saturday after the Victory they held surprise League leaders Leicester City to a 1-1 draw.

The following week was the return of the Derby against West Bromwich Albion. On a little unbeaten streak, they went to the Hawthorns in search of a win, but unfortunately both teams left with a point, and both sets of fans left with disappointment as the Derby was possibly one of the most boring and lackluster games of the season. It wasn’t all bad news as Villa were unbeaten in 3, still on a small streak they travelled to London with high hopes to overturn the hammers at the Boleyn Ground. Hopes were soon in havoc as after 17 minutes’ star signing Ayew was sent off for violent conduct and West Ham earned a smooth 2-0 victory. Back in Birmingham the would go on to host fellow strugglers Norwich City, and with Ayew out with a ban, Agbonlahor would pay a lone striker role replacing the Frenchman. On the scoresheet again, just before the half time whistle, Joleon Lescott gave the home side a rare first half lead, going into the break with the upper hand over the canaries. Shortly after the game restarted replacement and lone striker Gabby Agbonlahor doubled their lead, eventually running out winners against fellow relegation candidates Norwich City. Staying put in Birmingham Villa welcomed Liverpool, currently on a footballing revival under all round and likeable and guy Jurgen Klopp. It took only 16 minutes for Daniel Sturridge to head the opener, and 9 minutes later former midfielder James Milner made it 2-0 to deepen the wound. Things got worse from there on with even Kolo Toure scoring the sixth, his first ever Premier League goal. The only positive for many fans was that Christian Benteke didn’t score after coming on as a substitute in the later stages of the game. Sorrow turned into a deep depression as five games later they didn’t manage to gain a single point, they lost every single game, with growing fears about relegation slowly becoming a reality. They recently lost 1-0 away to Swansea City, who themselves are currently involved in a mission to escape the dreaded drop down to the Championship.

Tensions at the club continue to mount. Fans currently are directing anger towards the Chairman Randy Owner and the players themselves. They explain the whole club has a lack of spirit, with no ambition shown by the board and a lack of desire to win from the players themselves. Their feelings reached boiling point when fans spilled on the pitch in a FA Cup third round tie against Wycombe Wanderers, in which they drew 1 apiece. Cameras caught the action with Micah Richards talking to the players in an effort to calm them down and players hurling abuse at the Villa bench. The player’s transport coach was also targeted by gangs of angered fans, making their trip back even more difficult to come to terms with. Owner Randy Lerner currently has put the club up for sale looking for investors to come to the Midlands in a takeover deal, although it may prove a little difficult with the position they are in. Things are even more complicated behind the scenes, as general staff such a Receptionists, club shop assistants and Stewards are handing in resignations stating their discontent with the situation the Club are in and how it is currently dealing with all the commotion. For the fans they still turn up in thousands, however only to voice their opinions is where they think the owner should go and how fast he should make his exit. Again, they turn up in thousands, only to protest and stage mass walk-outs to make their opinions heard even more so through actions rather than chants and banners.

Relegation is most certainly on the cards and perhaps Aston Villa’s main goal is to bounce back by building a team fit to compete and challenge in the Championship. Arguably it is one of the hardest leagues to battle in and escape is certainly not guaranteed. The completely different style of play and attitude of players has seen many teams drop from the Premiership straight down again into League One. Every team is out to win, whether it be dirty or by sheer luck, every team is equal and is eager to achieve that Premier League dream. It is almost footballing Limbo, above is where the spotlight and the glamour is, below is a league drifting somewhere between attendances in the hundreds and out dated stadiums. And similar to Limbo you have to work in order to get yourselves out of there. There are more games to play in the Championship and it can sometimes be a fixture list minefield. Midweek games are aplenty, earlier entries into the cup stages and if you make the play-offs another extra three games. Aston Villa, at the moment, have a team more than capable of leaping back up to the Premier League with sheer domination, but what is not guaranteed is what players will flee and who will brave the fight. Jordan Ayew has already expressed his disapproval about playing in the lower league along with Frenchman Jordan Veretout.

Many other Premier League clubs have been sniffing around for the signature of youngster Jack Grealish. Recently he has been causing mayhem in the club being punished and knocked down a few pegs by playing with the reserve side. If he stays with the club, it will certainly give him an opportunity to show his loyalty to Aston Villa and develop into a brilliant winger in one of the World’s toughest leagues. Having already worked hard enough for Blackburn earn a Premier League contract Rudy Gestede will be a player wishing to seek elsewhere for his services, and with his aerial ability in front of goal he could prove a great signing for the right club. Carles Gil may look back home to find a La Liga club more suited to his role and he has been replaced by Gueye and Westwood. Alan Hutton has been loaned out twice during his stay at Villa, once to relegated RCD Mallorca and to again relegated club Bolton Wanderers, however the right back has played some of his best football in recent years, perhaps he can be Villa’s key man or a bigger club will request his services. More in the front pages than the back pages, Scott Sinclair had his footballing career put back on track by Villa, buying him from Manchester City after he was a regular on their bench. Maybe not such a big time player anymore, he still poses a threat with his speed but personally I believe he will remain at Aston Villa for the challenge ahead. Remi Garde currently has 7 games left until the end of the season, it seems he is facing an inevitable relegation although he believes until it is mathematically possible, Villa will escape the dreaded drop. His job is on the line but it may be cruel to release a man who may not be able to keep them in the Premiership, but he may earn them promotion in the Championship.



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