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Aston Villa's season of woe is not a one season travesty!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

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By Paul Frederickson  
Aston Villa look likely to stay in the EPL for next season after a barely deserved draw against a ten man Tottenham team with other results also going their way. Unless the unlikely happens, Aston Villa losing and Bolton winning next weekend's game whilst making up a 17 goal differential the Birmingham based club will retain their premiership status. What has gone wrong for one of England's bigger teams? Could financial security could be one of the major factors in the fall of Aston Villa?
McLeish looking up the ladder.
Aston Villa have not won a title since the dawn of the Premier League but they have come close on one occasion and flirted with the top five for more years than they have flirted with relegation. Their support is solid and they have seen a plethora of talented players, Gareth Barry and Ashley Young to name two, progress to bigger and more successful organisations. In therein lies the true standing of Aston Villa, this generations feeder club to the likes of the Manchester giants.

In early June 2011, Aston Villa appointed manager Alex McLeish from  newly relegated and bitter rivals Birmingham City after unsuccessfully seeking the services of Wigan Athletic's Roberto Martinez. It would be easy to easy to lay the blame of Aston Villa's horror season solely on the manager instead of the owners, after all Martinez's Wigan are only two points above the struggling Villa team. Martinez's decision may have had a two fold benefit; he is seen as loyal for staying at Wigan whilst appearing to be pre-cognitive in his decision not to take the helm at Villa. The rationale of signing McLeish has not been espoused but would appear to be based on monetary factors; firstly that the club could afford him, secondly that he could afford to accept the restrictions that have been placed upon him by the owners of the club. Aston Villa is a selling club, its flirtation with the higher echelons of the Premiership have become jealous mutterings.

Yes, injuries have played a significant part in the demise of Villa's season but they paint over the significant cracks of a lack of funds, a squad that is far too short to survive the rigors of a torrid and physical English Premiership League season. This has been evident for several seasons with Aston Villa falling away significantly after the Christmas periods. This will not likely change as Aston Villa's American owner, Randy Lerner, owns clubs that lose a minimum of money whilst making little impact on the competitions that they inhabit. In his ten year ownership of the Cleveland Browns, since inheriting the team from his father, they have barely reached a 40% win rate in a competition that has both a salary cap and draft concessions for badly performing teams.

Perhaps it is the expectations of Aston Villa supporters that need to be lowered, survival in the English Premier League with it's multi-national and diverse owners is becoming harder every year. The disparity between the league's haves and have-nots is already creating a three tier competition. A competition composed of those seeking the title and at least European qualification, the middle tier satisfied with the benefits of playing in the Premier League and the third tier whose yo-yo'ing between competitions is a scary and more likely reality.

Perhaps mediocrity in the premiership is looking more acceptable every day as opposed to falling down the English leagues and the monetary issues that ensue. A good run in the FA Cup against the big boys of the premiership may one day appease a supporter group that has got use to being one of the bigger English clubs. The last few seasons have given even the most optimistic supporters to the way ahead for Aston Villa, and it is more than likely not to be found at the moment by looking up.
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