This week has been nice. Aston Villa are safe, and that’s a fantastic piece of news. It was always likely, but having it secured prior to the final day is just a much nicer thing than having it go down to Sunday.
(Also: Sunday is the Indianapolis 500, and as is the case for any good Indiana boy, I’ll be there. It’s the best day of the year. Thank you, Spurs, for not ruining this for me.)
We’re headed into a big stretch for the club. In nine days’ time, Villa can win their most-significant piece of silverware in 33 years. It’ll be a big day out at Wembley, and as next week comes, I’m sure the nerves will really start to pick up.
From there — win or lose — there will be big decisions that will very directly shape the future of our football club.
What happens with Christian Benteke? It’s a pivotal moment in his career. With EURO 2016 on the horizon, does he stay in B6 where he’s guaranteed to be the man or does he chase the opportunity to move to one of the world’s largest clubs.
And regardless of what happens with the Belgian striker, it’s Tim Sherwood’s first transfer window at the helm of the Claret and Blues. That’s so huge. No matter how good of a manager he’s been, his decisions this summer will undoubtedly be a big factor in whether or not this club moves forward.
If Benteke goes, he’ll need to spend the large transfer fee we’ll get wisely.
If he doesn’t, he needs to jump right into building the type of side that can be back in the European conversation — on League form alone — within a couple years. Benteke, Jack Grealish and Fabian Delph are a core worth building around. We’ll see how Tim does.
He’s written off the thought that Villa could be back in the relegation scrum again, and with a good summer, that’s probably the case.
But if he gets his signings wrong? It could be disastrous. Just look at Hull, who spent more than £40 million this summer, yet look like they’re headed down.
And then, of course, there’s that elephant in the room.
Will Randy Lerner sell the club this summer? If he does, will he find the right buyer?
So… all this is going to happen in the near future. It’s pretty massive, and it should all happen in fairly quick succession.
But that’s why this week has been so nice.
Everything’s gone. No worries, no need to follow other results or plan our weekends around a crucial match. Just an opportunity to breathe, to relax, to bask in the glory of an entirely meaningless match coming up Sunday.
It should be fun; it’s a sold-out Villa Park, which is an absolutely beautiful sight to see. We could see some cameos from the younger lads in the Villa setup — I hope we see Callum Robinson and Lewis Kinsella, myself — and it’ll all be with the backdrop of a visit to Wembley in six days’ time. Brilliant.
The last five years have been pretty miserable at the Villa. There’s no doubting that.
But this week is a moment for optimism. We’ve got the worst behind us, we think. That proverbial light at the end of the tunnel is a lot closer; it could come for real next Saturday in the capital.
It’s a big summer coming up.
But I’ll be damned if it isn’t nice to have a little break.