Yes I know, call me a pessimist but this year is the year we finally go down. To be honest I think it’s what the club needs. Half of me wants me to retain our status of never being relegated from the Premier League but the other half wants me to drop down a level, regain some confidence and actually start winning matches again.
Easier said than done.
The Championship is one hell of a tough league. Any team can beat anyone on their day, and plenty of teams that have enjoyed Premier League status since the inaugural 92/93 season have now sunk into the murky waters of League 1 and League 2.
Therefore, it begs the question that if Aston Villa get relegated, can we come straight back up, and is Remi Garde the right man?
Let me go back to the 24th May 2009. I was at Villa Park that day that we confined Newcastle to the Championship. It was sad to see the demise of such a great club with such a passionate fan base, but I had a gut feeling that they would bounce back stronger than ever, and I felt that they needed to go down for that to happen.
With experienced players such as Coloccini, Gutierrez, Nolan et al they would always have a great chance, and they cantered to the title with 5 games to spare and by a huge 11 point difference to second placed West Bromwich Albion.
I have a similar feeling about Villa.
Chris Hughton had the same experience of managing the Championship as Remi Garde currently has; Slavisa Jokanovic (Watford) and Aitor Karanka both came to the Championship from foreign shores and have achieved promotion and produced a title contending team respectively.
So why can’t Remi? I feel that he has instilled a calmness to the team, and he isn’t afraid to speak his mind about under-performing players which is refreshing to see. (I’m looking at you Paul Lambert). He wasn’t afraid to drop Guzan and Agbonlahor, and he’s put out a starting XI that the fans on the forums have been begging to see for weeks.
If we can hold on to the Jordans (Ayew and Veretout coupled with Amavi coming back from injury), and the invaluable Championship experience in Gary Gardner and Joe Bennett we could have a real fighting chance.
The likes of Micah Richards, Jack Grealish and Scott Sinclair could find their confidence in a lower league, likewise Gestede who was prolific for Blackburn. The players on the fringes such as Lewis Kinsella and Jordan Lyden could (and should) find themselves with more playing time.
46 games is a long, hard slog. Plenty of Tuesday night journeys to the likes of Brighton, Cardiff and Hull (providing we don’t trade places with the aforementioned) will mean a lot of fatigue, knocks and injuries.
Providing that RG is actually given some money to spend, and with a few shrewd signings that can provide some depth and much needed experience to the squad, there is no reason why we can’t do a Newcastle and come back up at the first time of asking.