It’s amazing what five wins out of six will do; perk you up and cure any man flu. Yes, OK, that takes things out of context but from the low of seven defeats in eight, it’s safe to say that we’ve turned the corner. Whether it’s lasting doesn’t matter. Whatever happens, this season is destined to finish in mid-table obscurity.
Which is something of a relief given the uneasy prospect of relegation has only just eased. When Steve Bruce arrived, there was an uneasy prospect of relegation so we’ve come full circle, and improving. I’d like to think it’s permanent and with the remaining fixtures, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be.
It’s an interesting mix of matches. Fulham, Reading and Norwich still hope for the play-offs, while Burton and Blackburn are in the relegation dogfight. You’d think that when we play them, we won’t be able to coast or we’ll end up battered. The only matches I can see where there’s an ‘end of season’ feel will be Birmingham, QPR and on the final day of the season, Brighton.
The question I suppose is where it leaves us at the end of the season. Relegation from the Premier League, a new owner and manager, was the perfect storm. The revolving door almost spun off its’ hinges with players coming and going, going and coming.
This summer is daunting in that respect. We’ve seen the extremes of this squad. The contrast between the long, winless run is as baffling as the current run. How the team flipped between the two is the problem Steve Bruce has to wrestle with. He’s going to have strong views on which players can take the club into the promotion race next season and those who can’t.
I wonder if the enthusiastic naivety Dr Tony had last summer will resurface or be replaced by a cautious ‘self-funding’ summer; Bruce, I suspect, will have to raise funds by selling. He’s got problems with loan players possibly returning; McCormack didn’t so much burn the bridges, as dynamite the whole surrounding area.
It’s part and parcel of football management, but in McCormack’s case, the most telling aspect was the Fulham squad reportedly telling Jokanović they didn’t want the Scot back. We’re going to take a bath on that fee, something which may well prove eye-opening for Tone.
But at the moment, the summer is shaping to take place on the back of a largely positive end to the season. I expect we’ll lose a couple of games but getting to the end of the season on a run of ten wins out of fifteen games won’t be a bad thing. It’s form which extrapolated over a season, puts us on the fringe of the automatic promotion places.
That underlines the potential the club has. The trouble is that this is Villa we’re talking about. Potential, schmotential. I’ll accept mid-table obscurity in the Premier League right now. It’s not a lack of ambition but just a recognition that we’re mid-table in the Championship right now.
It would be nice to play European football again but that’s so far in the future to not be an issue; a bit of stability will do me nicely.