I’ve seen this sentiment a few times from Aston Villa supporters over the last couple months and it resurfaced a couple days ago when Paul Merson discussed it — that Villa will suffer successive drops and start 2017 in League One.
Look, I understand that things aren’t great around Villa Park these days and that this squad doesn’t look particularly inspiring on the pitch. That’s fine. But the argument that Villa fans should be concerned about a double drop is, well… a little irresponsible.
Let’s start with Merson’s arguments.
This current Aston Villa side would not finish in the top ten of the Championship next season.
Alright. This is a fair argument to make, but not one I’m sure I agree with. From a statistical point of view, this Villa side hasn’t been as terrible as its results have indicated — a couple bounces going one way or the other is often what condemns a club to relegation, not definitively being one of the three worst teams — and what Villa have sitting on the training table can’t be forgotten. While Rudy Gestede has been far from good in the Premier League, the Championship is a league he tore up over the previous season and a half at Blackburn Rovers. Adama Traoré’s skills should be able to flourish better at a lower level than they have in the top flight and Jordan Amavi is the club’s best player.
Even that said, guys like Micah Richards and Joleon Lescott, who have struggled this season, would be good players at the Championship level. I’m not buying this. But it’s fair. Let’s carry on…
It’s a harder league than the Premier League…
*spits out drink*
Wait, what? What.
I get the arguments about the grind of adding eight games, but when you figure you’re replacing 12 fixtures against Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur with 20 against teams like Rotherham United or Bristol City.
That’s the thing with the Premier League: At the start of the year, Villa fans will circle at least a third of the schedule as matches they expect nothing out of — that won’t happen in the Championship.
And then Merson called for Rémi Garde to resign, which is pretty preposterous. Yes, I get that the Liverpool loss was embarrassing. Completely.
But Villa were also one of the form sides in the Premier League headed into the clash, playing with a passion and fight we hadn’t seen in a while. Not to mention that last weekend was really the first time the visitors’ attack was fit all season long — the attacking explosion shouldn’t have been that surprising.
And of course, history would dictate there’s a slim chance Villa suffer successive relegations. Once this season concludes, of the 91 teams relegated from the top flight since the promotion playoffs were introduced, only two will have suffered back-to-back drops: Swindon Town in 1994 and 1995 and Wolverhampton Wanderers in 2012 and 2013.
That’s an incredibly low figure to freak out about.
What makes it less worrisome? Both Swindon and Wolves returned to the second tier the next season as champions, bouncing back at the first attempt.
Granted, yes, we’ve seen clubs like Portsmouth, Leeds United and Blackpool struggle with relegations after the end of their time in the Premier League but Villa’s situation is far from the ones those clubs faced at their respective drops. Pompey and Leeds both were in miserable financial positions, while Blackpool has been run into the ground by a chairman who only wants to siphon the club’s money into his own wallet.
There’s a very small chance Villa would suffer relegation from the Championship next season assuming the drop is seen this year. And if that happens, they’d stand a good chance of getting back the next year anyway.
Don’t be concerned about it. There’s many more things to worry about right now than the possibility of a double drop.