Aston Villa were all but relegated on Saturday afternoon, losing 2-1 to Bournemouth. The result left Villa 15 points from safety with 5 games left.
Steve Cook and Joshua King scored on both sides of half time. Despite a late Jordan Ayew goal, Villa fell to their 8th consecutive loss in the Premier League.
With relegation now all but certain, The Football Forecast looks at what went wrong for Aston Villa, and what the club needs to do in order to return to the Premier League as quickly as possible.
What went wrong?
Despite the season being such a disaster, it is relatively easy to highlight what has gone wrong for Aston Villa.
Aston Villa sold Benteke, Weinmann and Delph to rival English clubs, whilst also getting rid of star players such as Tom Cleverley and Ron Vlaar within the last few seasons. Even though these departures have generated a relatively healthy level of money to reinvest in the club, this has not been the case.
Instead of reinvesting effectively, Villa overpaid for a group of unknown French players, many of whom have little to know experience playing at such a competitive level. This lead the Aston Villa team to look relatively weak right from the start of the season, relying on quite frankly average players like Rudy Gestede and Micah Richards to guide the club to a respectable finish.
Insult was added to injury during the January transfer window, where unlike fellow strugglers, Villa failed to sign a single player. Fans complained that this highlighted a lack of ambition from both Lerner and the board.
It is therefore unsurprising that the club have failed to put together any sort of form, meaning they have only won 6 wins in all competitions this season.
Not only this, but the management situation at Villa has been diabolical. Tim Sherwood initially took the job, before being sacked in late October. Rather than replace Sherwood with a proven Premier League manager with a record of escaping from such tricky situations, the board hired Frenchman Remi Garde.
Despite Garde being a decent manager in France, it soon became apparent that he was incompatible with the monumental task given to him – Garde was sacked after only 3 wins in 23 games.
Hence it is clear that this season has been no ‘blip’ in the club. Selling the club’s best players whilst failing to invest, both in good players and in a capable manager, is the reason Villa are rock-bottom of the table
What next for Villa?
Aston Villa fans will take no comfort from the fact that they are now entering one of the most competitive leagues in the world. Gaining promotion straight back from the Championship will be a very difficult task to achieve, and it is something that Villa fans should not realistically expect.
The first step is appointing a proven manager – Nigel Pearson is an ideal candidate, considering his impressive CV. However, the key to success in the championship in regards to managerial choice is experience. Managers who know this league well often succeed in it, and Championship experience should be the priority for the club when looking for the man to take them forwards
Under normal circumstances, a club is best off by keeping the majority of their team, whilst adding in certain areas to replace departures or simply to strengthen and adapt.
However, in Aston Villa’s case, the current team has showed a lack of ability both going forwards and defensively, with players lacking true passion or commitment to the club.
In this case, a massive ‘clear-out’ is needed. Players who are not ready to put their bodies on the line for their club should leave. Players who do not want to, or do not have the ability to play at this level should also leave.
Aston Villa would be best off by keeping an experienced spine of the team. To survive in the championship, strength and experience are the two vital factors. Therefore the club would be foolish to rely on youth players to support the team at such a physical level.
Some players such as Rudy Gestede have proven to be decent in the Championship, and would be worth keeping. However, much more championship experience is needed and Villa fans should not be surprised to see a completely unrecognizable squad at the start of the 16/17 season.
Although relegation is a horrible experience for any club, it can also be an opportunity to ‘start again’. If done right, Aston Villa can rebuild into a solid team and gain promotion (probably later rather than sooner).
Speaking as a neutral, it is sad to see a club as historic as Villa suffering as they are. Football fans across England wish the club a quick recovery back to its once great status.