There is a very real possibility that Aston Villa will be relegated from the Premier League this season. Definitely a possibility, perhaps a probability, but definitely not a certainty. Despite the fact that we still have over half a season to go, many fans think that we are already damned to the Championship, that the season isn't worth playing, and that the best thing would be if the season ended now. Is that really the best attitude towards what could be Villa's final season in the top flight for considerable time? I don't believe so.
Firstly, in this year's Premier League more so than any other, against-the-odds results and trends seem to happen on a weekly basis. Who would have thought Leicester to be top of the Premier League at Christmas this season, after being bottom of the league last year at this time and after the much criticized appointment of Claudio Raineri and the departure of last season's leader Esteban Cambiasso? Who would have thought that last season's Premier League champions, under one of the best managers in the world, would miraculously find themselves well outside of the top half of the Premier League almost halfway through the season? Who would have thought Watford, a newly promoted team with so much upheaval and change, would be able to put everything together so remarkably and find themselves fighting for a place in Europe? Who would have thought Bournemouth, with a ground that only holds 11,000, would beat Chelsea and Manchester United back to back weeks? My point is not to make Villa fans writhe in agony at the missed opportunities that have bypassed us, but rather it is this: After reading that list of remarkable events, would it be so surprising to add 'Who would have seen Aston Villa surviving after being bottom on Christmas?' In a season so volatile, the Premier League script writers would have perhaps their greatest story of all if they were to let the Villa escape.
While you don't have to believe that Villa has a divine right to the Premier League, which we certainly don't, I believe that all Villa fans should at least maintain hope for the miraculous. While it is so tempting to curse Villa as already relegated after every goal that we concede, it makes what may be our last Premier League experience for a long time a bitter one. If Villa are relegated, and we find ourselves in the Championship for much longer than we currently anticipate, I don't want to look back in anger because I gave up hope only halfway through the year. Our memories of the Premier League shouldn't be traumatizing, because it is an extraordinary privilege to be in the Premier League for as long as we have. When there is so much still to fight for, I believe that we should maintain the attitude that it still is worth fighting for. If we celebrate each win and each goal as if it is the goal to secure survival, our memories of the Premier League will be so much better than if, after a win, all we can manage is "That's nice, but we're still going down."
If we're honest with ourselves, Villa faces one hell of an uphill battle to avoid the drop. But in a season of Premier League fairy tales, I hold out belief that maybe, just maybe, we can carve out one for ourselves. We should try to enjoy this final half of the season regardless of Villa's results, because more than anything else, it may be our last opportunity for a long time to feel, live, and enjoy the Premier League firsthand. Next year, we may be forced to cope with the departures of players like Jordan Ayew, Micah Richards, Jordan Amavi, Carles Gil, and the other few bright spots of our squad. I say we should cherish these remaining matches as if they are the last time we will see them in the claret and blue - because looking back, I think we all wish we could see just one more game of Christian Benteke and his majestic leap while wearing the claret and blue.
Aston Villa is a proud football club, make no mistake about it. We aren't a club that deserves to be marooned in the Championship, but many other clubs have thought themselves too big to be relegated, only to be left behind as the merciless Premier League paves a new trail that remembers nothing of its departed members. Should Villa suffer a similar fate, I don't want to look back in anger and sadness as we long for a return to the Premier League. The drama of the Premier League is both a gift and a curse, but it's something we must embrace. Perhaps we survive, or perhaps we are relegated only to bounce right back up the year after. While we all hope that one of these scenarios comes to fruition, the best attitude is to hope for the best but expect the worst. Because of this, we should embrace these last couple months in the Premier League as if they're the last we will see of it for a long time, not a burden which we undergo with only the finish line in mind, because there are a lot of clubs and fan bases who would love the opportunity to be in the Premier League for the 20 games which we still have.