Aston Villa and the final whistle

Villa draw at West Ham and stay up. Dave Woodhall can come out from behind the sofa.

They do keep doing it to me.

Last Tuesday wasn’t an emotional roller-coaster, because everything went our way all night, but that was certainly made up for on Sunday afternoon. Villa had put themselves into a position where it was all down to us. Everything was straightforward – win and we were fine. it’s in our own hands. Sorted. Ninety minutes of efficient football and job done.

And of course, it went exactly to plan. The plan, that is, of anyone who wanted to spend two hours biting their nails, pacing the garden, muttering prayers and willing the clock forward. The rest of us would probably have preferred something a bit less nerve-racking.

Anyway, there was a match in the middle of all this drama. Villa’s team was as expected, Guilbert coming in for the injured Elmohamady and goal machine Trezeguet keeping his place on the wing. An early score would have been nice, and it came, albeit about 200 miles north of target. Bournemouth scored but to make things better Arsenal had started off stormingly against Watford, three up after 33 minutes until Troy Bloody Deeney pulled one back at roughly the same time as Everton were first equalising at home to Bournemouth then letting another in.

As the second halves wore on, Watford pulled another goal back because the one thing you can never do is rely on Arsenal to do the right thing, and when Bournemouth made sure of three points with a third at Goodison, events were beginning to take a particularly nasty turn for the worse.

But cometh the hour and all that. Jack Grealish picks the ball up and another moment of destiny arrives. Job done, see out the next five minutes because West Ham aren’t going to be busting a gut to get an equaliser when their season’s already finished. Sorry, this is the Villa we’re talking about.

So bowels loosen, pulses race and hearts beat even faster for the final moments of the season. Villa can’t score again but that becomes less important then keeping the point as the seconds tick by and Watford look increasingly likely to lose to Good Old Arsenal, a club who can always be relied on to do the right thing.

The game ends at Goodison, and you have to feel for Bournemouth, who’ve played much better in recent weeks than their results have shown. Full-time at whatever West Ham call their soulless, corporate bowl and the team plus coaching staff wait on the pitch to find out if there’s going to be any unlikely drama at the Emirates. There isn’t, and the celebrations can begin.

Except of course that ‘celebrations’ isn’t really the right word. It should be ‘relief,’ because we shouldn’t celebrate finishing seventeenth. Having got that out of the way, though, it’s hard not to feel downright jubilant at the way the past two years have gone. Harking back to this for the last time definitely, during the summer of 2018 we were hours from going out of business. After winning the play-offs we were left with at best five players good enough for a Premier League squad.

Throw in a few injuries to some important players and getting to where the Villa are now has taken some doing. It’s not been perfect, there have been some poor signings and even worse decisions at times but for the second year in a row it’s Mission Accomplished. If you’re a fan of Scottish punk bands, you’ll know that The Beat Goes On.