The Championship is a grueling place to ply your trade. 46 games of hard tackles, hard running and very few surprises. Anyone can beat anyone and they often do.
Pressure on bosses is even higher. In the Championship alone 23 managers left their positions (there are only 24 teams in the division!) at certain points during the 2015/16 season. That is 4 more than League one (19) and a staggering 11 more than the Premier League (12)
All this begs the question who would want to manage in the second tier? Well new Aston Villa boss Roberto Di Matteo does. The Championship may be a far cry from the dizzy heights of winning the Champions League as Chelsea manager, but it’s no less of a challenge.
Things appear to be fairly quiet on the Villans front (although they were guilty of some pretty villainous football last season) which is surprising considering they are making their first foray into the lottery that is the Championship and despite them being 8/1 odds according to the Championship betting to win the division this season.
Perhaps it is because people have had over 6 months to accept that they will be playing second tier football for the first time since the 87/88 season. They were all but doomed from Christmas, Tim Sherwood could not stop the rot and in came his replacement, Remi (what did he actually do?) Garde, who managed to oversee a seamless relegation. And so the old second division beckoned.
All of this could well play into Villa’s hands. Why you ask? Well, simply because no one is talking about them; they are not just flying under the radar but they have literally dug a deep hole in the earth’s core and set up shop there, quite content to let the likes of Newcastle United and others make all the noise whilst they quietly plot their rise.
So far Aston Villa have signed Aaron Tshibola from Reading, Pierluigi Gollini from Hellas Verona and probably the only player I have heard of, Tommy Elphick from Bournemouth. Hardly world beaters but equally Di Matteo is no fool, the Championship is not about your Ronaldo’s, Messi’s and Bale’s, it is about your Elphick’s your Gestede’s and your Westwood’s.
These are all Players who know how to fight for the ball, who have been there and done it. They say it’s tough going to Stoke on a Monday Night in January, well try going to Elland Road on a wet, windy, ice cold Tuesday night in February and having the ball booted in your face. If you can handle that you are ready for the Championship.
I have a feeling that Villa could be made for this challenge. Finally under new ownership after the debacle that was Randy Lerner’s final few seasons, the club has had a long time to come to terms with its drop to the Championship.
Aston Villa are huge; European Champions in 1982 no less and a sleeping giant. I mean if you look at the table now they are already top! Just ahead of Barnsley, so things are on the up.
They say let sleeping giant’s lie, but in this case maybe it will be woken from it’s slumber sooner rather than later, after all you know what they say?
It’s always the quiet ones.