Dave Woodhall on Villa’s 1-1 draw with Burton.
Ah well – it was nice while it lasted. Villa’s run of form had raised (very) slim hopes that it might continue all the way to the play-offs but those finally ended on Saturday, courtesy of a Burton Albion equaliser and wins for Sheffield Wednesday and Fulham. Had results gone differently the gap would have been six points – now it’s eleven and that’s never going to happen.
As for the game itself, Villa did the usual trick of starting off well, going into an early lead via the usual source and then sitting back, although Kodjia’s withdrawal through injry was a definite blow to the team. Credit to Burton, who have made a real go of the season and have every chance of staying up, but once more Villa let the opposition back into a match they should have had won after half an hour. It’s happened all season. Under Roberto Di Matteo we couldn’t hold a lead, under Steve Bruce we usually have but that sort of luck and gameplan, if you can call it such a thing, isn’t going to be work forever. Which is why we’ll be travelling to Burton again next season rather than enjoying the dubious delights of Liverpool, Manchester and north London.
And to hark on a theme, that’s probably just as well. If Villa were to stand any sort of chance of surviving in the Premier League you’d be looking at at least eight new signings good enough to go straight into the first team and hope they all hit the ground running. I would guess at a conservative estimate that would be the best part of £80 million. A fraction of that amount, spent wisely, would make us favourites for promotion from the Championship and then we’d have three transfer windows rather than one in which to put together a team that would be less of an embarrassment as the one that got relegated in 2016.
We’ve got a chance of watching the sort of team who will be in the play-offs twice over the coming Easter break. Reading at home on Satuday will be followed by Fulham on Monday and it’ll be interesting to see how Villa compare to both these sides. It’ll also be a rare chance to complete two doubles because we beat both of them earlier in the season, Reading being that venue for that never to be forgotten occasion when Villa managed a first away win for an eternity.
No pressure in the remaining games might mean a bit more freedom for the team to express themselves, but I wouldn’t bet on it. I hope Steve Bruce is now working on ideas for how to get promoted next season. These new grounds and places to visit are enjoyable enough but the novelty will soon wear off if we have to keep visiting them.