The Big Question: Where Will Aston Villa Finish This Season?

Ollie Irish

3rd, August 2010


By Ollie Irish

“Honestly I couldn’t care less whether I get unfairly criticised.

“What I will say is the business that we did in the last few days of August last year really made our season.

“You go by the rules and run that length of time. That’s absolutely fine, it’s not a problem.”

Martin O’Neill defends his lack of transfer activity this summer, in an interview with the Birmingham Mail

* * * * *

O’Neill might not care about his critics, but I imagine Villa fans are concerned about the lack of progress made by their club in the last couple of months, and understandably so; standing still in the Premier League is no way to safeguard your position.

All the talk at Villa Park this summer has been about who is leaving, particularly James Milner, who may yet join Manchester City before the new campaign kicks off, and Ashley Young, who has been linked with Spurs. Unless Villa sells Milner or Young (or both), O’Neill may be forced to settle with the squad he has now. I can’t see Randy Lerner handing his manager a blank cheque – the American is an admirable owner but his pockets are simply not deep enough to take Villa into the top four. Perhaps they aren’t even deep enough for Villa to keep what they have.

Of course, O’Neill still has some time to pull a couple of inspired signings out of the bag, so it’s hardly fair to doom-monger at this stage, but his track record in the transfer market is far from convincing – scouting and signing new players is his weak point as a manager. Technically he’s sound and his man-management is very good, but I do wonder if he takes enough risks. He was a dashing winger at Forest, but he’s a prosaic gaffer, wary of egos and all about the team. This is a good thing, but it will only take you so far. You can’t always stick with what you have. Sometimes you need to twist.

This is the half-empty view. I’m sure Villa fans of a half-full disposition are happy enough with their status as a top-half Prem club, and with the work O’Neill does.

However, I’m 99% sure that Villa will drop down the table this season, after last term’s solid sixth-place finish – unless of course O’Neill shocks us all with some inspired signings late in the day. I don’t see it.

Villa’s rivals are on the move: Liverpool will be hard to beat under Roy Hodgson, Everton won’t start as badly again, nor suffer as much with injuries, while Spurs and Man City both look considerably stronger than Villa. All of which means I don’t see Villa finishing higher than eighth. They might even find it difficult to stay above the likes of Sunderland and newly rich enemies Birmingham.

Eighth is not a disaster but it means Villa are heading in the wrong direction, though not through any great fault of Lerner or O’Neill.

So, I call EIGHTH. Where do you predict Villa will finish in 2010-11? Vote below:

Posted in Aston Villa, Featured, Opinion

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  1. Chris Nee says:


    Or 9th. I can’t decide.

  2. Ollie says:

    Ha. I’m sure you’d be happy with somewhere between the two, no?

  3. Chris Nee says:

    I’d be delighted with sixth or above. Even that’s not very realistic, but I can’t bring myself to be happy with eighth really, even if that’s likely to be our natural position sooner or later.

  4. Ess-Jay says:

    Lol, no… I’m hoping for a top 4 spot. Please!! :) We really need some new signings too.. Get ridda Milner for 30 and bring some new boys in.. Possibly Ireland? :)


  5. NC Gunner says:

    I say ninth. My gut feeling is that the league table will look like this:

    1. Man United
    2. Arsenal
    3. Chelsea
    4. City
    5. Liverpool
    6. Spurs
    7. Birmingham
    8. Everton
    9. Villa
    10. Fulham

    Wild card: Stoke City. I think they can crash the top 8 party this year.

  6. shinychris says:

    I think it’s a little early to call yet. Villa never make any signings until late August anyhow. And Gareth Barry was due to leave Villa for Liverpool, but stayed for another year and played good football in that time. Maybe Milner will do the same, though most fans (and O’Neill) want to sell him and bring some new players in. If we don’t sell him then I can’t see too many new players coming to the club, but O’Neill is a very able manager and I don’t see Villa finishing lower than seventh.

  7. 1874fc says:

    NC Gunner, with all due respect, you must have a screw loose to put the Blues in 7th! They are just a workmanlike outfit with no real flair or creativity.

    I’d fancy Fulham to struggle a bit under Hughes. They’ll be in the bottom half along with Blues for sure.

    With the Villa, as shinychris says, they always buy late. The Milner deal will go through this week and Villa will get Ireland plus cash to spend.

    NCGunner, I do think you are right about the top four but the next four places will be a toss-up between Villa, Spurs, Everton and Liverpool. A key injury or signing could favour one team over the others. I’ll wait until transfer deadline day before I make up my mind.

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