After a great win over Birmingham - won by the most unlikely but inevitable Gabby goal - Villa play Blackburn next week. The same Blackburn who occupy the last Championship relegation spot, two points behind Birmingham.
Now let's be clear, the Villa players can't - and shouldn’t - throw the match. But Villa fans can privately wish for a Blackburn win to pile misery on the Bluenoses. Some rotation to give the youngsters an opportunity and key players a rest is certainly permissible.
So, as Villa fans, do we actually want the side to win next week? Two of our writers argue it out.
Yes, we should always want Villa to win - Adam Clark
I'm not going to be pompous about it and pretend I wouldn't like to see Birmingham go down. They celebrated when we were relegated, we can do the same right back. But we're the bigger team and we can prove it by getting on with the job and winning against Blackburn.
For seasons now we've complained about a losing mentality around the club. Then Tony Xia came in and the mood started to shift. Sure, talk of the Champions League was a bit far-fetched, but at least we could start thinking about the club being on an upward trajectory rather than a spiral into relegation. To think about winning each match, rather than fearing a thrashing.
Just because we're not in play-off contention doesn't mean we should abandon that winning ambition. And how can we square that with not wanting to win against Blackburn?
Yes, it's a meaningless end of the season game and we could concentrate on the last game of the season at home to Brighton. But that's not how creating a winning mentality works. You don't pick and choose which games you care about, you always want to win. That's how Alex Ferguson kept winning with Man United. That's what makes Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo keep adding to already historic legacies. And it’s what a team needs to do to win the league.
Birmingham's plight shouldn't distract us from that aim. Look at how Mauricio Pochettino reacted to Spurs' collapse to end below Arsenal next season - he's been consistent that the title is the focus of the team, nothing else. This season they came back a better side and finishing above their rivals should come as a natural side-effect.
That's how it should be for Villa towards Birmingham - the best way to put ourselves in a different league from them is to win promotion. And the best way to make sure we get promoted is get used to winning every single match, including Blackburn next week.
No, winning is not the priority - Phil Vogel
Just to double up the important note at the top. The Aston Villa players should not (and should never) tank a match on the field. Sport, at the core, depends on the assumption of competitiveness.
But that said — play the kids, try a unique formation created through Football Manager..... put Alan Hutton in goal as a roaming keeper allowed to go on his mazy runs. Anyone with a slight injury should be rested for the final home match of the year — a match that the team should see as a send off to what will hopefully be a more successful campaign come Fall. Is that hypocritical? Yes, probably. But it is possible relegation for Birmingham City!!
There is no pressure playing on the road in a meaningless match for Villa. See what James Bree can do at right back (with Hutton out of contract this summer). Tommy Elphick could use a run out and will still likely have a role next year. Play, health depending, Rushian Hepburn-Murphy and Andre Green. Maybe hand out a debut or three.
Then let the makeshift team play. If the Blackburn team that need the win come out on top, the away fans (as they usually do) will sing the team off knowing that the result could put the Blues in a rough spot for the final match. If the Villa team come together and find some inner-motivation to win -- great because that has been in short supply the last few years.
I’ll admit it does make me feel a little dirty to be Ok with Villa losing. But I’m comfortable in the knowledge that Villa are safe — the Blues are not — and the odd fact that a Gabby goal is part of the reason why. That is fun.
Up the Villa!