We have just enjoyed the most amazing title race ever in the Premier League so please forgive me for looking at the negative, but the question has to be asked. Is this Aston Villa team the worst ever Premier League side?
No doubt it has been a poor season for Villa. Three managers and numerous off-field issues have inevitably resulted in relegation for the west Midlands giants. It is a far cry from the recent European challenges under Martin O'Neill and the club has been in as steady decline since, but there have been relegations for big clubs in the past and sides who have finished with worse records than Villa, so is it fair to label them with this tag?
Derby County in the 07/08 season managed a solitary win (a home win over Newcastle United). They also had the lowest points total in the era of three points for a win (11), the most goals conceded in a twenty team Premier league (89) and their top scorer managed just four goals (Kenny Miller for the record).
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This season Villa have 17 points with a game to spare and would need a record-breaking defeat on the last day to match the 89 goals conceded. Summer signing Jordan Ayew has also managed seven goals, but the difference between that Derby side and this Villa side is experience.
Derby were promoted the season before after a number of years in the Championship. It was a major step up for the players. Aston Villa are a founder member of the Premier League and have been in the top flight since 1989.
During the 07/08 season, Derby had a transfer spend of £14.3 million to boost what was essentially a Championship squad. Aston Villa have spent in excess of £52 million this summer. Admittedly, much of this was recouped from the sales of Fabian Delph and Christian Benteke, but with that sort of outlay, a cohesive plan should have been in place.
It should also be said that times have changed in the transfer market and other clubs have also invested big in the transfer market only to struggle. Most notably Newcastle United, who have spent £75 million this season, with little coming back in return. However, Newcastle's season did not end with a whimper. With a week still to play Newcastle still have a chance of staying up, albeit a slim one.
This highlights another negative at Villa Park this season. Not only have the results been poor but it seems the attitude has been poor from top to bottom. Owner Randy Lerner has been trying to offload the club for years now. This lack of interest has filtered through to all aspects of the club.
With Newcastle and Sunderland staring down the barrel in January, the owners of the north east clubs opened the cheque books to give the sides a chance. The silence around Villa Park was deafening. When a statement of intent was needed, Remi Garde was left to work with the same squad he inherited from his predecessor.
Other examples of the malaise around Villa Park have come from the players. You would struggle to remember a team exiting the league showing so little fight. The point earned at home to Newcastle at the weekend was the first since 23rd January. Defeat at home to the Magpies would have lead to a new record for consecutive defeats. During this, the players have shown very little appetite for the fight, and tweets about new cars and the club captain suspended for being overweight, show real contempt for the fans and the club. Despite the struggles of Derby in 07/08, there were never accusations of not trying.
As a fan, the very least you expect from the players is some fight, and this has been missing for too long. With the possible exception of Jordan Ayew, it is difficult to see any top flight side scouting over the Villa squad for summer recruits, so the club may be stuck with big money flops for a number fo years or face the cost of paying up contracts and starting from scratch.
Either way, it could be a long time before top flight football returns to this part of the west Midlands.
Is this Aston Villa season worse than the Derby County campaign? Have YOUR say in the comment section below!