It’s stating the obvious, but while Aston Villa have enjoyed a 12-game unbeaten run, that included 10 straight wins, it’s the forthcoming Championship play-offs that will define the club like no other season in recent times.
Back in February, most Villa fans would have deemed it very unlikely indeed that their club would be featuring in the play-offs this season, but this opportunity should not be seen as a bonus. The chance must be taken.
It’s very much, promotion or bust, in terms of keeping the club’s prized assets – whether it’s keeping John McGinn or having a chance of signing up Tyrone Mings on a permanent deal
The chief concern though in terms of players leaving B6 is captain Jack Grealish. Villa certainly dodged a bullet with him last summer, when after Dr Tony Xian’s emoji-fuelled dream collapsed, the club was on a verge of a fire sale to tackle their shocking financial state due to gross mismanagement.
While many supporters had resigned themselves to Grealish going to Spurs, Villa were remarkably saved, both by new owners coming in and Spurs stalling and trying to low ball to take advantage of Villa’s precarious financial state.
To tackle FFP hence worth without any parachute payments, would see Villa needing to downsize their squad building, as they would have to pick up the pieces and build from square one once again.
But most of us know that already, as does Mr Grealish.
In a new in-depth interview with Jack Grealish in the Mail on Sunday, the player himself pretty much spelled out that this would be his last season in the Championship, whatever Villa’s fate.
“I’m 23 now and I’m not getting any younger,” said Grealish.
“I want to challenge myself, I’m desperate to play in the Premier League and I want to play for England. So for me personally, I think this is the year we’ve got to get promoted really.”
You have to hope that destiny is the reason why Villa have risen like a phoenix from the flames from a potentially mediocre season. Surely you don’t break club records with 10-game winning runs for nothing?
Improvement on Last Year
Grealish also in the interview suggested that this is a very different Villa outfit than the one that tried and failed last season in the play-off final.
“All I’m thinking about is getting promoted with Villa. We have got the perfect manager and the perfect team. We have got more of a chance than we had last year,” he told the Mail on Sunday.
“This year, I feel something different here. Every game we go in to, I feel like we’re going to win it. I feel like this is going to be our year.’
“We’ve come alive at the right time,” added Grealish, who relishes a chance to play local neighbours in the play-off semi-final.
‘We haven’t lost since West Brom on February 16 so it would probably be nice to get West Brom in the play-off semi-final, knowing we haven’t been beaten since then. We’ll take any game that comes and go into it with high confidence.”
Grealish has already had one Hollywood ending this season with the Blues game at St Andrews, lets hope he and all Villans get the ultimate one at Wembley.