After last year's European disappointment and the previous year's capitulation, one would hope that Villa will approach this competition with the focus and respect it deserves. Fulham, with a more limited squad, and more limited resources managed to make the Europa League Final, FA Cup Quarter Final, and have a respectable 12th place finish. Last year Everton were ravaged by injuries and still managed to put up a decent showing in this competition going out in the Round of 32 to Sporting Lisbon.
Tomorrow Aston Villa will find out the identity of it's opponent in the Europa League Playoff Round Fortunately for the Villains they are seeded in tomorrow's draw. Unfortunately included in the unseeded pot is Rapid Vienna who dispatched Villa at this stage last year on away goals. Notwithstanding Aston Villa should have little trouble with most of the clubs in the unseeded pot.
Under Randy Lerner Villa are certainly an ambitious club. Not ambitious in the same way that Manchester City are ambitious in spending £200, but in they have invested in the infrastructure of the club by rebuilding the training grounds, the academy, and the proposed Villa Park renovations will make it one of the finest stadia in the EPL. A European trophy would do well to grow the stature and profile of the club in the rest of Europe.
There is a perception that nobody cares about this competition. This is partially true. Nobody cares in England. Many fans and media in England are too hung up on the UCL and jumping on the bandwagon of one of the "Top Four." Given the shared language and culture, and the accessibility of the English media via the internet this attitude has migrated to the US. In the rest of Europe this competition is still held in a very high regard. Look no further than Sevilla and Atletico Madrid who have won this competition over the past five years.
This would also allow Martin O'Neil to blood the youngsters coming up through the academy, as well as the squad players that he seems unable to sell at the moment. Who knows maybe one of these players will find some form and actually make it into a league game. And then MON can wait for it, wait for it, rotate the squad! All right that probably was a pipe dream, but it is not completely impossible. A nice European run will give Villa some extra revenue. Not a significant amount but when you lose £40 every little bit helps. Given how competitive the league promises to be, winning the Europa League might be Villa's best avenue back into Europe next year.