For the last three years there has been something undeniably wrong with this club. Not only was consistently surviving relegation by a whisker awful for fans' heart rates, but also it somehow cemented into place the notion that however disastrous of a run we went through, we would somehow be alright - that we had a divine right to the Premier League. Randy Lerner certainly believed this, as his carelessness and lack of both attention and funds suggest. However, as this year has shown, we are certainly not too big to fail. We don't have a divine right to Premier League survival and we don't even have a divine right to bounce immediately back up from the Championship next year. Regardless of these harsh truths that have recently dawned on us, I believe that relegation is the only thing that can save this club and quite possibly the best thing to happen to this club in a long time.
The person who will be forced to take the most notice is Randy Lerner. The most important factor of his involvement with this club is his bank account and it's doubtful that he will listen the pleas of the fans until he sees the result of his negligence on his own financial situation. He's certainly already aware of how Villa has drained his resources but this season will make the pains of Paul Lambert's reign look pleasant. This season more than any other is the worst possible one in which to suffer relegation. With the approaching influx of TV money only available to those who showed the desire to remain in the Premier League, Lerner will see that money slip through his fingers, something that won't suggest action to Lerner. It will require it.
Additionally, until relegation we won't have the opportunity for a complete rebuild. Ever since the arrival or Christian Benteke we have been largely a one man team; to lose and not replace our star player leaves us as a zero man team (which we currently are). This opportunity is unique because until now off-seasons have been focused on satisfying Benteke, getting him back to goal scoring form, trying not to lose him, or trying to find someone to replace him. Our club turned into a Benteke-centric solar system - a structure which isn't sustainable beyond two or three years. When such an unstable system collapses it does so fantastically, exposing all the flaws behind the surface. With relegation comes our greatest opportunity to change our transfer policy, our club structure, and our very way of thinking so as to think the way great teams think: about the club as a singular entity, not in terms of the individual players who compose it.
We will be forced to cut loose the weak links: Hutton, Richards, Lescott, Richardson, and Guzan would be a good start. These players are on big salaries, do nothing to warrant a place in the team, yet to start week after week regardless of defeat. This core of players is the symbol for a Villa whose ceiling is 16th place. Until they leave, there is no way that we will have the energy, youth, vigor, and determination to catapult up the table and develop a model which will allow us to stay there.
This season has been as painful measured by anyone's standards, but in the long run I believe we will look back at the collapse of 2015-16 and be thankful. We have been living a mirage, a mindset of "not quite bad enough" where we could rely on one or two players to pack up the entire club and put us on their backs - but the teams that find a way to leave the bottom half behind don't do so that way. It's unrealistic to even think of a story like that of Leicester but their model is something that the new regime at Villa Park should take serious note of. Finding players who are completely invested in the team rather than themselves and their paychecks are how you develop a winning culture despite limited funds. Charles N'Zogbia, Alan Hutton, Kieran Richardson, Joleon Lescott, and Brad Guzan are all on wage packages that hidner the club while showing little passion for how the club fares on the pitch - to have such a toxic attitude around the club is an unforgivable recipe for disaster.
I hope that this season has showed what we already knew to the decision makers of the club. Villa is a massive club and it would be a tragedy to see us marooned in the lower leagues for a significant period of time, but that's what will happen unless we change our old way of doing things. This, however, is our best opportunity to do so and for that we must be thankful.