Despite the recent downturn in form, the majority of Villa fans will still be hoping that we are able to achieve promotion come to the end of the season but what happens if we don’t? Who will be in the departure lounge come the summer?
As much as we would all like to be positive there are always two sides to every story and Villa must seriously explore the other side of the story. Promotion and the sky is the limit if you believe Dr Tony Xia and his plans but if we fail to get the promotion, where does that leave Aston Villa financially?
The departure of Alan Hutton hangs in the balance. The Scottish full-back has impressed with his never say die attitude and has become a fan favourite with them referring to him as the Scottish Cafu. The problem Hutton has is he turns 34 in November and with his reported £35k a week contract coming to an end, manager Steve Bruce has already stated he won’t be able to renew his deal if Villa fails to gain promotion.
Gabriel Agbonlahor, Chris Samba and Mark Bunn look almost certain to join Hutton in the departure lounge. All three have failed to get regular football at the club this season and just like Hutton, their contract will come to an end come the summer which will save a reported £130k a week in wages for the club.
A decision still needs to be made on the future of John Terry. He has always stated he wouldn’t discuss it until the summer and amid recent rumours that the former Chelsea defender will stay regardless of our future next season, can we afford his £60k a week contract?
Those three are the easy departure’s but some have asked if Villa will have to make major cutbacks with Keith Wyness already stating that the club has planned if the worst scenario happens.
In an ideal world, we would be able to add the likes of Micah Richards and Ross McCormack to the departure list. Which would equate to a further reported 95k a week in wages bringing the sum up to an estimated £260k a week (a little over £13.5 million a year.) Neither has set the world alight during their time at B6 so I doubt either party would be to upset if we were to part ways.
The latest accounts showed a loss for the financial year of £14.5m. This compares to £80.7m from the year before. During that 12 month period, the club did have the £33m in parachute payments and £26.6m from player sales.
The third and final year of the parachute payment would see the club only receive £15m which is less than half of what we received this year.
Should we have to make further cutbacks then surely it would mean we would have to look once again at adding to that departure list without weakening the squad too much.
FURTHER PLAYER SALES
The obvious player sales would be the six players currently out on loan at present.
Pierluigi Gollini (Atalanta) and Carles Gil (Deportivo) have both made no secret that they would like returns to their homeland. The question is if the loan clubs would like to make the deals permanent. Gollini has made just two appearances this season while Gil is yet to feature in Spain. I wouldn’t be confident in either joining the clubs they are currently on loan with but stranger things have happened.
Aaron Tshibola has impressed since joining Kilmarnock in January and the midfield has made no secret about extending his stay in Scotland. Could a deal be done? He reportedly cost Villa around £5million and they will no doubt want to recoup as much of that as possible but Scottish clubs don’t have the finances available to most English clubs.
Gary Gardner will no doubt join the departure list also. He is on loan at Barnsley and appears to be enjoying his football. The midfielder has failed to live up to early potential, partly down to injuries but he is 25 now and would surely like to settle somewhere now.
The future’s of Tommy Elphick (Reading) and Ritchie De Laet (Royal Antwerp) will also have to be decided.
In the perfect world we would get promoted but if we don’t, I just hope that we are able to offload those that no longer want to be at the club or are unfavoured. The last thing this club needs right now is for the squad to be ripped apart once again.
Yesterday’s 1-0 defeat at Bolton Wanderers saw Aston Villa’s chances of automatic promotion all but ended with the prospect of playoffs looming instead.
A second defeat in a week following the eye-catching 4-1 win over Wolves at Villa Park last weekend has turned the positivity and expectancy into a rude awakening.
It’s not mathematically impossible to gain automatic promotion, but at the same time it’s also not impossible to miss out on the playoffs altogether should the slide continue.
For once, an international break has come at a good time for Villa. The side have looked a shadow of their recent selves and for some it’s looked like a combination of age and a busy schedule have caught up with them.
In December, Villa saw their worst monthly points haul before going on an outstanding run to give themselves a real opportunity to gain an automatic spot. This is the kind of form and belief that Steve Bruce and his backroom staff now need to seek, build and maintain within the squad over the final 8 games of the league campaign.
Bruce has twice gained promotion through the playoffs and the importance of keeping the players both confident and fully fit is going to be a key as to whether his team are playing in the Premier League or a third season in the Championship looms.
Fulham comfortably beat Villa and Wolves within the space of a few weeks. Despite their own slip up yesterday, they look like a slick, attacking line up with bags of fitness. The likes of Ryan Sessegnon and Alexander Mitrovic will be the players they look to.
Middlesbrough have found form under Tony Pulis, winning the majority of their recent games to find themselves within the playoff spots. A revitalised Patrick Bamford and ex-Villa winger Adama Traore have been terrorising defences of late.
There is also of course Derby County and an accumulation of teams sitting just outside the playoffs to ensure the end of the league campaign will be full of twists and turns.
Should Villa end up in a playoff spot, surely 3rd or 4th will be of key importance too. Finishing in these positions would hand Villa a second leg at home. They have shown in big games against Bristol City and Wolves that with a raised atmosphere and everyone at their best, they can win the big games with a performance to boot.
Aston Villa need to secure a minimum of playoffs as soon as possible for me and the management of players like Terry, Jedinak, Snodgrass and Adomah will need to be at the forefront of Bruce’s plans should they achieve this.
One thing is for sure, the final 8 games are becoming some of the biggest in the recent history of club for so many reasons.
Any hopes of automatic promotion are all but over as they slumped to a second defeat this week to Bolton, as manager Steve Bruce was shown up for his lack of a plan B once again.
The manager stated that he should have made changes before the defeat to QPR on Tuesday but didn’t so instead he made changes for this game against Bolton. To the shock of many Villa fans, it was only two changes though.
Birkir Bjarnason and James Bree replaced Mile Jedinak and the injured Neil Taylor otherwise it was once again the same side.
Villa was slow to get going and was punished after just 19 minutes due to poor defending from a set piece. Sammy Ameobi‘s low corner was flicked on by Darren Pratley at the neat post into the path of an unmarked Adam Le Fondre, who was able to poke home from close range.
Bolton should have doubled their lead straight from the restart but former Liverpool full-back Jon Flanagan’s low drive was blocked on the line.
Villa upped their efforts and Albert Adomah come close but he headed Lewis Grabbans deep cross wide. Grabban then came close himself but he missed a great chanced when he misdirected Jack Grealish’s low cross from three yards out.
Bolton was very lucky to still have not have seen a red when Andrew Taylor followed through on a tackle on Bjarnason which was very high and the Icelandic midfielder was very lucky not to come away with a serious injury.
As the snow continued to fall over the Macron Stadium the conditions got worse but Bolton seemed to get stronger as Le Fondre shrugged James Chester before putting his first-time shot wide of the goal.
Villa then came close through substitute Scott Hogan as he met a Robert Snodgrass cross but his shot was blocked by Flanagan.
Ben Alnwick denied Villa late in injury time when James Bree got on the end of another Grealish cross but the points belonged to Bolton and deservedly so.
For the second time this week, Villa fans could only watch on as our manager got it tactically wrong and the players looked uninspiring and tired.
I have my thoughts on the manager regardless of the outcome of this season but that is for another day. Right now we just need to stick together and regroup during this International break and try and get in some good form for the playoffs.
Steve Bruce:”At the end of the day we’ve given a sloppy goal away, we’ve huffed and puffed, had a few opportunities and had the better chances and couldn’t quite take one. I’m disappointed with our first half showing as we didn’t do enough and unfortunately they’ve paid the price.”
Phil Parkinson: “It’s a huge win for us going into the international break. We’re still got a six-point gap and obviously, we are pleased. Villa is a very good side, but it was an excellent performance from us tonight and I thought we deserved it.”
Bolton Wanderers vs Aston Villa
Sky Bet Championship
17:30 – Saturday 17th March 2018
Macron Stadium, Bolton
Aston Villa will travel up the M6 today to take on Bolton Wanderers at the Macron Stadium in the Championship which is also live on Sky Sports.
Villa still remains third in the table but following their mid-week defeat to QPR, sit seven points adrift of second-placed Cardiff and just a point ahead of fourth-placed Fulham. Some fans have given up on the hope of automatic promotion but there are still 27 points to play for so we can only hope for a few more slip-ups.
Villa has picked up an impressive 31 points from a possible 39 with only Fulham having picked up more in the division.
Bolton would have aimed to avoid relegation this season following promotion from League 1 last season and so far they are on course to achieve just that. They are 6 points above the relegation zone and picked up 17 points from a possible 39.
One thing we should have taken from the defeat to QPR is that we should never take three points for granted, especially in this division.
Neil Taylor is a major doubt and is almost certain to be missing, alongside Alan Hutton and Axel Tuanzebe. They are struggling with muscle and hamstring injuries.
James Bree is standing in the wings and ready to step in a prove himself in the first team should Taylor not make it.
Otherwise, everyone else is fine apart from the long-term injuries.
Phil Parkinson only has one concern and that is Darren Pratley. The midfielder suffered a knock in training this week but they are open he will be ok to play for Bolton.
Chinedu Obasi and Connor Hall are both desperate to feature after impressing for the Bolton u-23 side but Parkinson said they will have to wait their turn as they have no right to ‘jump the queue’.
Bolton is expecting a crowd of over 20,000 for the first time this season with over 4,00 travelling Aston Villa supporters.
Villa has only failed to score in one of their last 20 league meetings with Bolton, a 1-0 defeat in December 2006.
Bolton lost their last home game 3-1 to Preston. They haven’t lost back to back home games since losing their first five home games of the season.
The 10 away games Villa have won this season, is more than they won in the previous three seasons combined.
Villa will be taking 4,342 supporters with them to the Macron Stadium. Tickets are no longer available and won’t be available at the gate.
LIVE MATCH CHAT
Can’t make the game? Well, why not discuss the game on our Aston Villa forums with fellow Villa supporters.
Aston Villa is set to take 4,342 up to the Macron Stadium to take on Bolton Wanderers tomorrow evening for the Championship fixture that is also live on Sky Sports.
The Macron Stadium, formally known as the Reebok Stadium, has been the home of Bolton since it’s opening in 1997. The Bolton Whites Hotel forms part of the construction of the stadium which offers some rooms with views of the pitch. The stadium is also a temporary location of Bolton Wanderers Free School.
The Macron is totally enclosed with each stand having a rectangular lower tier and a semi-circular upper tier above. An unusual feature of the stadium is that the two teams emerge from separate tunnels on either side of the halfway line.
THE AWAY SUPPORTERS
Away supporters are housed in the two-tiered South Stand where up to 5,000 supporters can be accommodated, although the usual allocation is around 3,000. Lower allocations usually see the lower tier shared with home fans.
The leg room is decent and the views are good as you would expect with a modern day stadium. The bottom rows of the lower tier are not covered by the roof so if the weather is against you then you could get wet.
The refreshment kiosk’s use a queuing system with an entry and exit lane. Food on offer includes your usual pies (£2.90), burgers (£3.50) and Hot Dogs (£3.50).
Alcohol can be served within the ground dependant on fan behaviour and authorities. Drinks include Worthington’s Bitter (£3.40), Carling Lager (£3.50), Magners Cider (£3.70), Guinness (£3.80) and wine (£4). The club also allows you to pre-order and pay for your half-time drinks before the game is kicked off, making it quicker to get your drinks at the interval.
ANY CHANCE OF A BEER?
There aren’t many options for places to drink around the Macron Stadium. The Beehive is the main pub and is about a 15-minute walk away from the stadium. It is a decent sized pub that serves food but gets very busy as you would expect. Sky Sports and BT Sports are both available.
Another option is the Barnstormers pub on Lostock Lane which is usually a mixture of home and away supporters.
Most pubs and bars around the stadium will only allow home supporters and home tickets are usually required on entry.
HOW DO I GET THERE?
Leave junction 21A of the M6 and take the M62 Eastbound leaving at Junction 12. Follow signs for the M61 (Bolton/Preston) and leave the motorway at Junction 6. The ground is clearly visible and signposted from here.
A train from Birmingham New Street to Horwich Parkway will take around three hours. The Macron Stadium is just a few minutes walk away.
Those travelling by train have been wanted that there is a replacement bus service between Bolton and Piccadilly, Wigan and Preston.
#avfc#utv Fans travelling to @OfficialBWFC Via train on Saturday there is a bus replacement service on between Bolton and Piccadilly, Wigan and Preston, please factor this into your journey time
Aston Villa greatly improved its chances of being promoted to the Premier League by beating Wolves, the top team in the table and the overwhelming favorite to win the Championship, but then almost immediately reversed their gains by losing to QPR.
There are some legit options available rated by people which had experienced and tried each of the sportsbooks listed where you can find betting odds on who will earn promotion in case you want to check them out, and most of them now have Wolves as strong favorites to be promoted, as strong as 1/25, and Aston Villa as longshots at 15/8. Ahead of Villa in almost all books are Cardiff City at 2/5 and Fulham at even odds.
With the QPR loss, Aston Villa essentially erased their chances of making the top two and automatically earning promotion to the EPL, so the question becomes how they’ll fare in a playoff with Fulham, Derby County, and Middlesbrough.
While Villa currently leads those three in the table, they’ve lost their most recent matches to Derby County and Fulham, and with their recent loss to QPR, bettors are a little wary.
Fulham in particular are dangerous; after a tough start to the season, they’ve improved dramatically, with recent wins over Wolves, Derby County, and Villa. They’re not likely to trip up against QPR this weekend, and the teams remaining on their schedule are good enough to stay sharp, but not good enough to drop Fulham off the table.
In Aston Villa’s favor is the possible return of striker Jonathan Kodjia. After an ankle injury resurfaced early this season, Villa management and fans counted him out for the remainder of the year. His well-documented recovery seems to be progressing faster than expected, and there’s some hope that he could return to the squad in time for a playoff.
That would be huge for Villa: Jack Grealish might not be able to haul the club back into the Premier League by himself, and Kodjia is one of the top goalscorers in the Championship.
Aston Villa should concede the top two to Cardiff City and Wolves and focus on their prospects in the promotion playoffs. A seven-point deficit is almost certainly too much to make up with the number of games remaining, and the playoff isn’t going to be an easy one. Holding out for Jonathan Kodjia to save the day probably isn’t smart either; as well as he’s progressing, he’s still a very long way from being ready to play and there are precious few weeks left on the schedule.
It’s altogether a dismal prospect for Villa, who probably didn’t expect to be in the Championship for this long, and are tantalizingly close to promotion now, but still not a betting favorite. Those long odds are, unfortunately, mostly fair, and reflect the difficulty ahead for Villa.
Aston Villa’s euphoria after the triumph over league leaders Wolverhampton Wanderers rapidly evaporated after the unforeseen 3-1 defeat to Q.P.R on Tuesday evening. The loss was made all the worse due to the fact that both Cardiff City and Wolves themselves were both in action on the same night and managed fairly routine wins to open up a gap which on paper looks as wide and the grand canyon at this stage of the season.However, this is not the time to panic.
Whilst now things are largely out of our hands, there is still time for fortunes to change between now and May. The difference between the display against Wolves to that against Q.P.R was astonishing.
Despite the same eleven men taking the field, the performance was unrecognisable as Villa barely got going all game. Manager Steve Bruce in hindsight reflected that some changes in personnel may have helped freshen up the performance. However, I think it’s fair to say that the vast majority of supporters were absolutely on board with keeping a settled side, especially after such a great performance beforehand. The only real contentious choice seemed to be keeping Mile Jedinak in place of the increasingly impressive Birkir Bjarnason. Did our manager panic and the pressure affect his decision making?
The loss feels like a wasted opportunity. Q.P.R are a team languishing in the middle of nowhere. Clear enough of relegation worries and too far away to mount a last-ditch push for the playoffs. On paper they represented one of our easiest fixtures left; a team with literally nothing to play for coming to the fortress of Villa Park.
Whilst it is bitterly disappointing the more we think about it, some perspective is needed. We have won 10 of our last thirteen games. We’re still third. And there is still time so why the panic?
As well as our own profligacy, the real issue is that Cardiff City keeps on winning. That’s now 7 wins in a row for the Bluebirds which is an extraordinary run, by anyone’s standards. They are massively punching above their weight on the resources available to them. Begrudgingly, it also has to be said that Neil Warnock is probably one of the best managers they could have in this situation also. Love him or hate him and I’m firmly in the hate him camp, you can’t deny that he will have them fired up before each and every game.
With 9 games to go, it also can’t be expected that they will go on to end the season with a winning run of 16 games to add to the 7 they currently have. They will drop points here and there. Whether or not it will be enough for us to catch them remains to be seen, especially as we seem liable to shoot ourselves in the foot at the most unpredictable of times.
The fact is that Warnock’s men still have to come to Villa Park. That is the game that will define the season. Providing that we’re still in a position to make it count.
That is a big if, of course. There are four games until that particular clash on the 10th April. We have some decent looking fixtures in between but we all thought Q.P.R was also a decent looking fixture.
Cardiff however, has some horrible looking fixtures coming up before then. A home match against Burton looks straightforward on their current form. But they must visit both Derby County and Sheffield United, as well as hosting Wolves. There will surely be dropped points along the way. And to be honest, if there isn’t, then good luck to them – they’d deserve to go up coming through that lot unscathed. What is to say that they won’t bottle it and in turn panic?
Fulham is also in the mix and cannot be discounted but we cannot alter their destiny and simply have to hope we can keep our noses in front along the way. However, despite having an easier looking run in, it is likely that they will also drop points along the way. They are currently a point behind us in the table and you can bet they aren’t feeling like they’re out of the race just yet. We have to match that mentality.
The point is though that although seven points seem huge right now, it is far from insurmountable. We’ve shown we have the class. We are now able to put runs of victories together. We have competed and beaten the teams in and around us. We know we are capable. And perhaps most importantly, we’ve shown we can bounce back from a defeat.
There are plenty of twists and turns to come. The worst thing we can do as supporters right now is panic and give up. We’re still in this. And after all, it wouldn’t be Aston Villa unless we did it the hard way.
It is amazing what a difference in a few days make. Euphoria at the weekend following the demolition of Wolves and then last night heartbreak at how we didn’t turn up against an impressive QPR side.
Steve Bruce opted to stick with the same team that beat Wolves, something he later regretted when speaking to the media.
The result was probably the shock of the night in the division and one that puts a massive dent in any hopes Villa had of automatic promotion.
QPR clearly enjoys playing in the Midlands as their only other away wins this season have come at Birmingham City and Burton. The truth was though, they deserved it and possibly more.
Ian Holloway’s men started with more intent and really looked fired up for this once and they took the lead on 12 minutes.
Jake Bidwell crossed from the left and Ryan Manning was able to beat a slow-moving John Terry in the air to glide his header past Sam Johnstone in the Villa goal.
Villa tried to up their game but they struggled for ideas and tried lumping balls into the box that the QPR defence was more than comfortable in dealing with.
The away side doubled their lead in the 33rd minute when Bidwell gained possession from Pawel Wzolek on the end of the area to fire a left-footed show low into the bottom corner of the net.
Villa did come close just before half-time but Jack Grealish could only head his effort directly at Alex Smithies.
Bruce’s men began to dominate for large spells in the second half as QPR sat deep and frustrated the home side by time wasting at every opportunity.
More poor defending resulted in QPR scoring the third goal through Luke Freeman with a low left-footed shot that Johnstone could do nothing about.
James Chester scored a late consolation in the 88th minute for his third goal in three games but it was way too little, too late.
Another mistake by the manager which he has admitted to again, combined with a flat crowd and lacklustre performance from the players may have just cost Villa any hopes of automatic promotion as the result leaves them seven points adrift of Cardiff.
I stated on Saturday after the victory over Wolves, that it would count for nothing if we are not able to beat QPR.
Steve Bruce:“It was always my fear that this would happen after last Saturday’s win over Wolves. I toyed and toyed with making changes. With hindsight, I should have done. I blame myself because I always thought it would be difficult to get the bandwagon rolling again.
Ian Holloway:“Villa caught us cold the other week. They made us come up from London when they said the game was on. We had an eight-hour wait on the side of the motorway so you can say it was payback time for us! To be three up against Villa away from home after watching what they did to Wolves at the weekend was a bit of a shock.
Aston Villa 1-3 QPR | Extended highlights - YouTube
Many players have stood up this season for Aston Villa and with one eye on promotion, Steve Bruce and co will have to start thinking about what parts of the team could help us progress once in the Premier League. One of these players is on loan from West Ham, Robert Snodgrass.
In my mind, there is no question about the fact that Snodgrass is up there for player of the season so far and since November, no player in the Championship has got more combined goals and assists than the flying Scotsman.
The most significant of these goals was the late winner away to Sheffield United. I was in that away end when he bent that beauty in the net and I don’t think I have celebrated a goal more wildly in recent years.
Snodgrass has been so vital for our promotion push and we need to make sure he is ours permanently. After some comments that the West Ham owners made about him, many people would assume that he will never play for the Hammers again – and he clearly loves it here at the Villa. His passion is incredible and every goal and every win obviously means so much to him. It would be a massive loss if it came to end of the season and Snodgrass isn’t a Villa player any longer.
West Ham hopefully won’t have a problem letting him go but the problem will be other people sniffing around for Robert. He has had a magnificent season and this will definitely turn some heads of other clubs who will want his signature but hopefully, he has enjoyed his time at Villa Park enough to reject other teams coming in and stay with Villa.
Snodgrass has developed a great bond with the rest of the lads, as you can see by his social media. His Instagram stories are full of the players having banter and it even went as far as Rob’s shoes being glued to his locker! Hopefully, this bond with the team will convince him even more to renew his contract with the Villa. He also interacts with the fans on Twitter and shows great love and respect to the Villa faithful proving his loyalty to Villa and his desire to be here for the long run.
We also need to keep hold of Lewis Grabban, the striker has scored 4 goals in 4 games and is proving to be a great signing on loan from Bournemouth.
The visit of Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday had a nervy mixture of fear, expectation and excitement all rolled into one.
Rivalry aside, Wolves have played some incredible football this season and their lead throughout the season has clearly been no fluke and it has been completely deserved.
A fast paced, flowing, attacking style of football with flair coming from their array of foreign imports has led many to say they are potentially the best side to have graced the Championship.
However, the 4-1 thrashing dished out by Aston Villa has shown that one thing is abundantly clear going into the final ten games. Villa should fear no one.
Villa pressed down, fought and showed a heart and desire that has been missing from Villa Park for all too long. Something we have all craved and longed for as supporters. The atmosphere on Saturday was one of the best in an awful long time.
I’m going to every game along with others with a rejuvenated sense of optimism and excitement, again nothing like how I’ve felt in recent years.
It was exactly the type of statement result that sets the platform to success. Comprehensively beating a team that have rarely been beaten at all should give the entire squad and fans the confidence and belief that anything is possible right now.
To a man, everyone did their jobs. Mile Jedinak once again stepping up for the big game, Terry and Chester were resolute and organised, Grealish showed once again how far he has come after largely flattering to reach the levels we knew he was capable of and Lewis Grabban played like someone who has been with us for years.
Despite the confidence and expectancy that is growing by the week, the one thing we need to avoid is complacency.
Beating Wolves is one thing but we need to remain alert and industrious against the likes of Q.P.R. and Bolton who we face this week.
Thankfully in Steve Bruce I feel we have a man that will command effort and heart from all. The pictures of him and his backroom staff celebrating as one on Saturday and embracing the players continues to show the unity and togetherness that is so undervalued by many.
Some incredible stats came out of the Wolves game whilst watching it back the following day too.
Villa have won 19 and drew 2 of the 21 games when they have scored first. A solid backline and desire to chase the second goal has been refreshing.
Robert Snodgrass and Albert Adomah are first and third respectively in goals and assists combined since November 1st and that includes our poor December points haul.
The picture is looking better and better yet we must remain cautious with the challenge of the likes of Cardiff and Fulham too. However as said at the start, we must not get complacent but we must not fear anyone.