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Aston Villa, perhaps not surprisingly, are among the favourites to go up from the Championship this season and it’s fair to say the fans expect a playoff spot at the very, very least.
A title challenge is the more desirable target of course. Although I’m not convinced at all their squad is in the sort of shape it should be, having had over a year now to get used to the idea of Championship football, here are three reasons they may yet get themselves a top two place:
Villa are particularly a big club for this level of football and with that comes a bigger budget. Still benefitting from the Premier League’s parachute payments, Villa will gain bigger match day revenue than most, so long as the fans actually turn up!
So far, this hasn’t led to them making any big money signings, at least not in the current transfer window, though this always remains a possibility. The fact that they can pay better wages than a lot of clubs in this league has led to them attracting the likes of Glenn Whelan and John Terry to the club.
The club has a rich Premier League and Division One history and with that comes a certain aura. Steve Bruce, albeit rather misguidedly, labelled Villa as last season’s ‘team everyone wants to beat’ and although this can have its obvious downsides, there are some potential plusses too.
The weak mentality of some players or even collective squads is such that when they turn up at a place like Villa Park, especially if Villa make a good start to the season, any visitor can be beaten before a ball is kicked as there is something in the sporting subconscious that tells a player “we can’t win this”.
I would personally love to see Villa sign some young, up and coming players, if they are to progress as a team and a club on the long-term. However, for their immediate goals, the experience they now have in the squad could indeed work in their favour.
The names of Glenn Whelan, John Terry, Ahmed Elmohamady, Chris Samba, Micah Richards, Alan Hutton, Mile Jedinak and Gabriel Agbonlohor read like a rogues gallery of Premier League has-beens, though at this level, it may well mean they have the experience and nous to see tight games through to a successful conclusion.