5 Biggest Turning Points in Aston Villa’s Recent History
If you enjoy your blood pressure being at a normal level, Aston Villa is not the team to support. In the last 5 years, the team has been relegated, went on a record-breaking winning run to secure promotion, and miraculously stayed up on the final day of the last season to name just a few notable moments. This list will compile what we consider to be the 5 most important moments in the recent history of Aston Villa. As this list is concerned with moments, long periods such as the winning run and relegation will not be viable for selection.
5- The goal-line technology
Everybody knew this would be on this list somewhere… An event which has meant Villa fans are unable to complain about anything that goes against the team because ‘you’re only in the league because the goal-line technology failed’, it seems that rival fans will never forget that time goal-line technology miraculously failed against Sheffield United. While the team had 9 games remaining after this incident to get out of trouble and the great escape was due to many more factors than this one event, the fact is the club survived by one point and had the technology worked, there’s no guarantee that this point would come. Had this goal have stood, who knows what the impact would have been on morale, form, and future results- perhaps the team would have been buoyed by the setback and come back stronger or maybe the task would have appeared too daunting and the team would have crumbled with weeks to spare. We will never know but this event is definitely one of the most important moments in the club’s recent history.
4- The second playoff final
It might come as some surprise to see this event so low on the list- after all, this is the event which secured Villa’s return to the Premier League after so many years of pain and suffering leading up to and following the pathetic relegation in 2015/16. However, had Villa failed, the foundations were in place for the club to achieve success in subsequent seasons. Nevertheless, this game was monumental for the club. The second playoff final in 2 years, Aston Villa emerged victorious against Frank Lampard’s Derby County after a tense affair. Following promotion, the club could afford a complete overhaul while avoiding the wrath of financial fair play and could transform into a club capable of being competitive in the Premier League. Furthermore, captain Jack Grealish stayed at the club which would have been highly unlikely if the team had remained in the second division and the club could bring in successful loan players such as Tyrone Mings and Anwar El Ghazi who have been very important individuals in the club’s recent history. Therefore, while the second playoff final was not made or break for the club, it was a very important moment for how the Club currently functions.
3- Jack Grealish signs a new contract.
This was a huge moment for the club demonstrating their intent to compete and be successful in the Premier League. Jack Grealish was nothing short of exceptional in the 2019/2020 season and it could be argued that he was the most important player in the whole of the league as no other individual had such an impact on the fortunes of their club. For the whole of the season, he was being linked to so-called ‘bigger clubs’ and his departure seemed inevitable. However, news of him signing a five-year contract was possibly the first time many fans realised how ambitious the club’s new owners are. This demonstrated that the club had a plan to do everything possible to breach the top 6 barrier- as there would be no chance a player with the potential of Jack Grealish would secure his future to exist in mid-table mediocrity in the prime of his career. Furthermore, Grealish committing his future has allowed the club to attract players such as Bertrand Traore and Ross Barkley and, while he remains at the club, the list of players who will want to play with him continues to grow. Therefore, this was a key moment for the club.
2- The first playoff final
Losing against Fulham in the 2017/18 playoff final might have been the best thing to have ever happened to Aston Villa football club. Had the club been promoted under the ownership of Dr Tony Xia, the consequences could have been catastrophic. The financial difficulties may have taken longer to be evident, and the impact of these difficulties could have been the end of the club. It would have taken a miracle to keep that team in the league, with Tony Xia being unable to transfer subsequent funds out of China and a much weaker squad than the one that eventually went on to get promoted. After a season in the Premier League, all the club’s best assets including Jack Grealish, Conor Hourihane and James Chester would have poached and the club would have been left to pick up the pieces and just hope to survive as a club. Therefore, Villa fans have Tom Cairney’s boot to thank for helping to ensure Aston Villa continue to thrive as a club.
1 - NSWE takeover
It is fitting that a group with the same initials as the points on a compass have got Aston Villa moving in the right direction. It cannot be overstated how bad the state of the club was following the unsuccessful playoff campaign in 2017/18. Villa faced a winding-up order, the club had to sell the car park in order to keep the lights on and Steve Bruce was informed that the club couldn’t afford free transfers. Had the situation continued any longer, Villa might have been forced to accept Tottenham’s offer of £3 million, plus Josh Onomah for Jack Grealish and the club might have gone into administration. Villa fans should look at clubs such as Bolton Wanderers, Wigan Athletic and Bury and consider themselves hugely fortunate that Wes Edens and Nassef Swaris decided to rescue the club. Not only did the pair save the club, but they also were not content to let Villa survive, they had ambitions for the club to flourish in the Premier League. So began unprecedented amount of investment in the club, breaking the club’s record transfer fee twice, tying crucial players down to new contracts which have seen the club secure itself in the Premier League. Therefore, it is clear that this event was not only the most important event in recent history but also one of the most important moments in the club’s entire history.
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