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Can Aston Villa bounce back to the Premier League?

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MattVillan looks at the likelihood of bouncing straight back to the Premier League by considering those who have come before.

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Aston Villa, 7 time First Division champions, 7 time FA Cup champions, former European Cup winners and 1890 English Baseball Championship winners will finish in last place in the 2015/16 Barclays Premier League season. Despite being perennially mediocre in the Premier League (only one finish in the top 2, no titles and 2 trophies = mediocre), that hasn’t yet happened in this modern era.

As the club has so little experience in these matters, we have decided to take a look at how those who were relegated in last place before got on the following season in the Championship.

Promoted

Mid-Table

Relegated

Nottingham Forest^

Ipswich Town

Swindon Town

Bolton Wanderers^

Crystal Palace

Wolverhampton Wanderers

Nottingham Forest^

Nottingham Forest

Leicester City

Watford

Sunderland AFC

Bradford

West Bromwich Albion

Sunderland AFC*

West Ham

Wolverhampton Wanderers

Queen's Park Rangers

Southampton

Watford*

Derby County

Portsmouth

Cardiff City

Queen's Park Rangers

^Too long ago, data not easily accessible
*Finished top 6

Leicester

Whilst the 2002/03 Leicester team achieved automatic promotion back to the top division, they did so amidst a cloud of controversy as they had entered administration for a portion of the season and as such they were banned from any transfer activity. Despite this, Mickey Adams' side went on to be promoted with 92 points. This was largely helped by the fact that the points penalty for entering administration was introduced due to Leicester’s promotion in spite of being in administration, after Football League clubs complained.
In this case, whilst the relegated Leicester side only achieved 5 wins, they did also manage 13 draws, implying a solidity that simply isn’t present in our current side.

Sunderland

Perhaps one of the most relevant cases to this year’s Aston Villa, the Sunderland side of 2005/06 were relegated with a dismal tally of only 15 points. The summer was heavily overshadowed by Niall Quinn’s takeover of the club, but despite this a huge amount of transfer activity took place, with almost 20 players being brought in and 15 leaving the club. This overhaul clearly worked, as by the end of the 2006/07 season Sunderland were promoted as champions, with Roy Keane in charge for the majority of the year. After a shaky start, once Roy Keane was appointed manager at the end of August the club began to pick up points, helped strongly by only losing 2 times at home when he was in charge. This lead to Sunderland having by far the highest average home attendance in the league.

West Brom

After Tony Mowbray left the following the conclusion of the season, the Baggies appointed former Chelsea player and future Chelsea Champions League winner Robbie Di Matteo as head coach. Unlike the rest of the clubs here, West Brom went against the grain and chose to stick by the majority of the side that took the club down the previous season, this was however largely due to it also being the side that had got them promoted from the championship the season prior to that. This strategy worked and the club was automatically promoted in 2nd place.

West Ham

Upon relegation in the 2010/11 season, West Ham figured virtually decimating their squad would the best route to success. 20 players left the club over the season, including their player of the season the previous year, Scott Parker (who went on to have possibly the best season of his life and inexplicably ended up England captain). Having offloaded all those players, the club responded by bringing in leaders such as Kevin Nolan from Newcastle and appointed Sam Allardyce as manager.
However, although they achieved 45 points away from home, their less than impressive home form, coupled with Reading’s surprise run from February to clinch the championship title left West Ham finishing 3rd and it took an 87th minute winner from Ricardo Vaz Te to assure them of promotion through the playoffs. These home struggles were largely down to teams sitting off them when playing at Upton Park, which Big Sam’s tactical style struggled to break down.

Queen’s Park Rangers

The only club on this list to choose to keep their manager, QPR opted to hang on to Redknapp, who managed to lead them back to the Premier League thanks to, like West Ham, the playoffs.
Although ‘Arry stayed, they did offload 12 players, including most of the highly-paid flops they signed in a fit of desperation in January, with Chris Samba, Jose Bosingwa and Djibril Cisse all leaving. Those that they couldn’t sell were loaned out, with Loic Remy going to Newcastle and Stephane Mbia going to Sevilla (where he won the Europa League, partnered with also-relegated former Reading player Daniel Carrico)
Coming the other way, Redknapp signed 11 players, including of note Charlie Austin, a proven goalscorer, Matt Phillips and Gary O’Neil, all whom played key roles in the Rangers’ season.
Despite this though, QPR missed out on automatic promotion by 13 points in the end, and it took another late Wembley goal to see them back into the top division.

From all this, a number of things are apparent.
Primarily, a mid-table finish is by far the most likely occurrence- thirteen of the twenty-three clubs relegated in last place have done so, a significant majority. Despite this, successive relegation would appear to be unlikely, having only happened twice.
Secondly, it seems a squad overhaul, which is almost certain at the Villa, with the sellable players like Gana and Amavi certain to leave and the overpaid geriatrics like Richardson and Lescott likely to get the boot as well, is a perfectly acceptable approach. Saying that, the clubs which did this in recent years have not been as financially restricted as our club will likely be, unless this rumoured takeover isn’t just a ploy to encourage supporters to buy Season Tickets.
A change of manager also seems to be good practice, and the man appointed tends to play a more defensive brand of football, which bodes well should we appoint Pearson as expected.
A major concern however; is that if promotion is not achieved straight away, history suggests it will be remarkably unlikely after that- only once has that happened and that was a Sunderland side who only just missed out on promotion in their first season back in the 2nd tier.

It is clear the Championship is a hard league to get out of, and the Villa will certainly need a touch of fortune on their side to bounce back at first askance. If not, what with the new TV deal coming into play, the alternative could be terminal for our grand old club.

What do you think will happen? What should we do to best guarantee coming straight back up? Answers in the comments please!

Up the Villa