It was a long shot any way. As well as pretty much winning out the rest of the season, Villa needed a bunch of other results to go their way. When they drew against Burton though and Sheffield Wednesday saw off Newcastle at home, you got the feeling that the game was up.
Steve Bruce’s poor start to the New Year with five straight losses in a nine game winless streak put paid to any restoration work he did afterwards. Despite assurances from Tony Xia downwards to fans, that the club would be ready to cover the January period after Jonathan Kodjia and Jordan Ayew left for the African Cup of Nations, the only solution they had was to play Gabby Agbonlahor (and he wasn’t even fully fit).
Back in November, Bruce was decrying having six strikers at the club, suddenly he had next to none. Villa were caught with their pants down and missing out on promotion was the price they paid.
So now eyes turn to next season, in the meantime, here’s five reasons to be cheerful as Villa fans…
1.One Man Band
If you thought Villa were a one man band with Christian Benteke, this season has pretty much eclipsed that. Villa fans have changed the name of the Benteke chant to Jonathan Kodjia to mark the birth of their new main man.
The Ivory Coast international has now scored 19 goals, which makes up 44% of all Villa league goals this season.
When Kodjia hobbled off, Villa’s chance of three points against Burton also seemed to leave the pitch. The good news is he should be back for the weekend, as it was only reported to be a dead leg.
With Kodjia now at the prime age of 27 (birthday in October), will he be thinking of a move to the Premier League, which has alluded him so far in his career? Scoring over 20 goals for Villa this season, would no doubt attract interest.
Still, Villa will not gain promotion on the merits of one man alone next season, they need a team.
2. Reality Check
There’s a reason that Villa aren’t in the play-offs (which would have been the minimum expectation at the start of the season), they haven’t been good enough. While some of the fan base will wash over the fact the main damage (nine games winless run) was done under Bruce’s watch, Bruce at least is not kidding himself or anyone else, with his post-match assessments.
Whatever the result, Bruce has judged the performances of the team under the microscope of truth. He knows and has said performances have been poor and grinding out results is not a week-in, week-out, recipe for success.
Hopefully, we will see improvements accordingly to suggest that this team can be aiming for automatic promotion next season.
3. Blues Derby
While the season is over in earnest, having the Blues derby at Villa Park near the end of the season at least gives fans something to look forward to. With a 41,000+ crowd at Villa Park, it should hopefully send fans away with renewed hope for the high-stakes new season ahead.
The closing game of the season could see Brighton be crowned Championship champions on the Villa Park pitch. Maybe that will inspire us to make sure it happens to us next season?
4. Graham Taylor Cup
After a suggestion from the Villa Fan Consultation Group, the club will play Watford in a pre-season tribute to Graham Taylor on Saturday, July 29. It’s always nice to give pre-season fixtures some extra meaning where possible and this charity-raising event fits the bill nicely and gives both sets of fans another chance to say their goodbyes to a top footballing man.
5. You Guys
The fact that you guys are still here reading Five Reasons and that I’m still here writing it, after five pi**-poor seasons on the trot, shows amazing resilience by us all. Surely we all deserve a season of triumph now?
If you want to get involved in MOMS, whether it be writing, designing, drawing, editing or talking, get in touch and we’ll try to fit you in our pre-season plans. People with talent, staying power and loyalty preferred. Drop me an email on [email protected] [dot] com
Thanks again for your support – past, present and future – one day we will see Villa rise again.
New podcast episode coming, until then, make sure you check this one out: