I said after scraping survival last season, that to really show improvement this season, we needed to finish in the region of 10-12th. I said it, I will admit, with very low expectations. I am delighted to have had those low expectations proven totally unfounded.
What a season!
Yes, we’ve had a lull this year in results, but the first half the season illustrated perfectly, what Dean Smith et al want to achieve at Aston Villa. Exciting, attacking, football. Even the pundits were starting to talk about us in glowing terms, which makes a change. Oh and we were able to rally and bookend the season with great wins against Spurs and Chelsea.
What gets me excited now, is that we appear to be building strong foundations, built on concrete, as opposed to the decades of building on sand. Bodymoor Heath has yet again been improved – I say yet again, because Randy did do a lot of work at Bodymoor which when he took over, was an embarrassment. But now we have an amazing set up as you can see from this video:
Take a closer look inside our 𝗡𝗘𝗪 High Performance Centre at Bodymoor Heath! 🙌 pic.twitter.com/rIpRob0U1c
— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) May 4, 2021
Not only that, though, just as importantly the new owners have come in and made sure the academy is well funded and has resurrected their ambitions. I know this for a fact, because the first day they were at Bodymoor, they met some of us fans off the Fan Consultation Group. They explained they had just found out the academy was set to lose it’s top rating, thanks to the hapless Xia, and got their cheque books (do people still have them?) out there and then. Since then Villa have invested in young talent as can be evidenced tonight in the FA Youth Cup Final. (Live on BT Sport, starts 7.15pm, just in case you didn’t know!)
I wasn’t convinced that Dean Smith was the right man for the job, I said (media name dropping) on a Sky Sports News interview, after Bruce was sacked, that although I like the idea of another Villa fan being in charge, it might be too big a job for him. Since then, we’ve been promoted, survived and have now more than consolidated. I might just have been wrong!
Aston Villa finish with 55 points, their best Premier League return in 11 years. Here's where 55 points got you in other seasons
2017-18: 7th (Europa League)
— Andrew Raeburn (@andrew_raeburn) May 23, 2021
It seems most in the forum thread are also happy with the progress and looking forward to next season already.
And here comes the major test.
The transfer window opens on Wednesday June 9 and it will run for 12 weeks until 11pm on Tuesday August 31.
Can we keep hold of our best players? And if a player like Jack Grealish does get tempted away, hopefully not, but if… will all of the proceeds be re-invested, on top of whatever the transfer budget is? If so, we will see that Villa really are back in the game and truly do have ambitions to be back in the mix in the top six of the Premier League.
Oh, and the small matter of needing to add 2-3 top quality players. They don’t come cheaply. We don’t need to be buying squad players now, Dean and co have re-built that side of the squad, and supplemented with some undoubted quality. Now we need players good enough to fit straight into the team. As said, they don’t come cheap. Our new set up at Bodymoor is going to help attract the top players, as does the ££££ we can offer.
So, this could be the most exciting and the most expensive summer transfer window in years for Aston Villa – or dare we dream, the most exciting ever?
If so, Villa will be well and truly back on the map.
Here’s to next season.