Aston Villa’s latest Premier League defeat to Swansea was the club’s 21st defeat of what has been a torrid league campaign. Whilst most supporters have been resigned to relegation for some time, the inevitable reality of life in the Championship is now edging ever closer. The Championship is arguably one of the most difficult leagues in European football.
From the current 24 sides in the league this year, 18 sides have previously played in the Premier League. Despite the difficult nature of claiming promotion back to the Premier League, here are five reasons why Aston Villa can come straight back up next season.
Gestede’s style of play is simple but effective. The big Beninese striker relies upon service, with crosses into the box, where he can utilise his aerial threat. This season, Gestede has shown glimpses of his ability in the air but much of his inconsistency in front of goal is due to a lack of service. For much of the season, Villa have not played with natural width and wide men who can make the most of Gestede’s strength.
In addition to the qualities which Gestede possesses, it was his exploits in last year’s Championship for Blackburn Rovers, which engineered his move to Villa Park.
Manager at the time Tim Sherwood argued you would not find a better header of the ball in English football. Gestede’s start to life at Aston Villa suggested that Sherwood was right but the goals soon dried up. By the time Remi Garde was placed in charge, Gestede was very much in and out of the team.
Gestede scored a total of 33 goals in 66 appearances for Blackburn in the Championship.
This is a very impressive record and indicates that Villa have a readymade striker for putting together a promotion push next season.
Providing Villa give Gestede the service, there is enough evidence to suggest that Gestede could have a key say on where Villa will find themselves come next May.
The young midfielder has come in for plenty of criticism for both his on field and off field antics but there is no denying that on his day Grealish is a very talented individual who can be a match winner.
His exploits in last season’s FA Cup Semi Final victory over Liverpool, really put him in the public eye. Talk of representing England followed and it seemed that Aston Villa had unearthed a gem.
Fast forward to this season and Grealish has spent more time making news for his actions off the pitch. Penalised by the club in October for being seen partying after the side had lost 4-0 at Everton, Grealish was dropped by manager Remi Garde for the next few games.
Over the coming weeks and months, Grealish was used sparingly by the manager and had little if no impact upon the team.
Talk of a loan move in January was at large but Grealish remained, albeit it mainly on the sideline.
Persistent injuries in recent weeks have kept Grealish out of the team with a latest ankle injury ruling him out for six weeks. Grealish has not played a Premier League game since facing Sunderland on 2nd January and the side has been starved of the quality he produced towards the end of last season.
Providing that Grealish can get over his injury problems, focus on his football and have a strong pre season, there is every chance that he will have a big impact in the Championship. Grealish has shown on many occasions that the physical side of the game does not faze him.
A loan move in 2013 to Notts County was the perfect step. Grealish was targeted week after week by the opposition due to his flamboyant style of play. He passed the test and was quickly back in the Premier League reckoning.
Villa will have to be careful to not place too much pressure at Grealish’s feet but the Championship could be the perfect platform on which to get his career back on track.
Aston Villa has been renowned for their Academy for some time and many supporters long to see more of the undeniable talent, making the transition into the first team.
From the youth side which won the Next Gen Cup in 2013, Jack Grealish is the only player to have established himself in the first team. Much of the squad has since then been sent on loan or left Villa altogether.
This season, both Tim Sherwood and Remi Garde have involved many of the youngsters in the first team set up. Jordan Lyden and Andre Green have both made their First Team debuts in recent months with Keinan Davis also being involved in match day squads.
It is always a tall order to introduce a number of young players into any Premier League campaign, especially one as disastrous as this year’s.
However a new season, a fresh start for all, could be the very chance these youngsters need to get in the first team.
Left back Lewis Kinsella has been sent out on loan this season and will undoubtedly provide competition next season.
Over the coming season, Villa will be carefully watching the development of young players such as Rushian Hepburn-Murphy, Easah Suliman and Jerell Sellers whom the club have high hopes for and could make next year the time they challenge the first team.
A strong and fruitful academy is beneficial to the club in the long run. Transfer dealings were generally unsuccessful this season and a key factor why Villa are in their current position. One or two home grown players making the step up to the first team could be vital to the side as the manager will not have the budget of a Premier League side.
Point to prove
It is difficult to determine who will remain at Villa Park next season but there are a number of players set to return from loan and injuries who will aim to prove their worth to the club.
For much of his career, Gary Gardner has been plagued by injury but in recent times, has been establishing himself on loan with Nottingham Forrest in the Championship. This latest loan stint, added to previous spells in the Championship with Brighton and Sheffield Wednesday, will have served Gardner’s development well.
There have been question marks against Gardner’s credentials in the Premier League but he has seemed comfortable at Championship level.
Next season could finally be the time that Gardner produces on the talent he has shown from a young age.
Nathan Baker has also spent the season in the Championship on loan with Bristol City and his experience in the league could also be important.
Tim Sherwood felt the move was important for Baker’s development having done much of his apprenticeship in a struggling Premier League side. Bristol has had a mixed campaign this season and Baker has found himself in and out of the side. Next season could be the make or break for his Villa career.
Each and every one of the current side has a point to prove, should they remain at the club.
Senior players such as Joleon Lescott and Micah Richards will have a lot to answer for as their performances have been far too inconsistent. Neither player will want relegation on their CV but what better way to bounce back, then to help the side claim promotion?
Unquestionably some of the best in the land, the Claret and Blue Army will have an important role to play next season.
Providing the performances on the pitch return, Villa fans can play their part in making Villa Park a fortress once more.
Not many sides in the Championship will be able to pull in the crowds that Villa Park can.
Some may see Villa Park as a big day out and a huge scalp for the season but if Villa are really involved in a promotion push, then the players and fans can make it a daunting place.
On the road, Villa has always been well supported. Even during this year’s campaign, they have sold out their allocation most weeks.
Championship side Leeds United are known for their strong away following and Villa could easily rival that reputation. It is not the ideal situation for supporters but most will remain loyal to the club regardless of the league they are in.
Another difficult campaign could test the patience of many but if Villa do have aspirations for an immediate Premier League return, then the season ahead could be an exciting one for supporters.
With potential derbies against Birmingham City and Wolverhampton Wanderers waiting ahead, it could make for a season of many highs and lows. The supporters have and always will be the biggest part of Aston Villa and the core following deserve better times. Their role is undeniable in the club’s success and will have a big part to play.