Aston Villa enter Championship Sunday in 14th place after registering a pair of 1-1 draws with Crystal Palace (May 15) and Burnley (May 19) earlier this week.
The Birmingham side will play a crucial role in the title race–with the ability to win the Premier League for Liverpool with a victory over Manchester City–but ultimately the goal heading into the final match day of the season is to pick up three points and finish as close to the top half of the table as possible.
Following Thursday’s result, manager Steven Gerrard said: “I’ve just said to the players in the dressing room ‘You’re a lucky group and I’m a lucky manager because we’re 14th in the league at Aston Villa which isn’t enough.
“We are 14th in the league and we’ve just given a lap of honor and our fans were incredible. Moving forward, this club cannot finish 14th again. We need to change things and come back better and stronger next season.”
Despite being only three seasons removed from promotion from the Championship, Villa are a big club that’s spent big money. Losing Jack Grealish was a blow, but expensive signings in the summer and shrewd business in January should have yielded better results, right?
Well, since Gerrard took over in November, Villa have a 10-5-11 record and have collected 35 points–the eighth highest total in the Premier League over that period.
We’ve seen some impressive performances under Gerrard–the 4-0 thrashing of Southampton on March 5 sticks out–and generally positive football from the lads. But inconsistencies have ultimately sabotaged Villa’s hopes for a top-half finish.
Philippe Coutinho’s future in Birmingham is secured and more money will be spent in the summer on a defensive midfielder, a couple of defenders, and perhaps another attacker.
This will be a better team next season, and although it’s easy to harp on some of Villa’s shortcomings this season, it’s an exciting time to be a supporter.
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