This past Saturday Premier League side Aston Villa lost 1-0 at Newcastle United. It is their sixth consecutive away fixture without a goal scored.
They currently sit 19th in the league table behind only recently-promoted Leicester City. They’ve tallied just five wins in twenty-seven games this year.
Relegation is not a new thing. Every year, three teams go down and three come up. Standard stuff. But this is a little different. It’s not the newly promoted Championship team heading back, it’s a giant historic club that could very well find itself playing a league down next season. Birmingham’s Brightest are shaping up to be pretty dim.
Unlike Borussia Dortmund’s relegation scare, Aston Villa hasn’t shown us anything to make you think they’ll be fine. For Dortmund, four straight league wins definitely gives you back your confidence. But Aston Villa is still on a downward spiral. Their last league win was December 7th against none other than last place Leicester. Not a lot you can give Villa fans to be hopeful about.
If Leicester gets relegated, things will carry on almost unnoticed. If you asked the average fan who got relegated from play in say 1998 you probably wouldn’t get any sort of answer. But if it happens, this year might be known as the year Villa got relegated.
It all started in 1874 when they were founded. Over their 140 years in existence, Villa has won seven league titles, seven FA Cups, Five League Cups, a European Cup and the UEFA Super Cup. When you pull those kinds of numbers, you build a fanbase and a story that knit a city of one million people together. It could be taken away from them if something doesn’t change.
Their poor performance has already claimed casualties. Manager Paul Lambert was sacked on February 11. Just three days later, Tim Sherwood assumed managerial duties.
Legacy is a big deal in soccer. It’s what makes big clubs so big and important. Villa is a storied team that would be a heavy loss for English football. It would be a little bit like if an Original Six hockey team left the NHL. Things would just feel different and not for the better.
Their last eleven games won’t be easy. They will have to face Manchester United, Spurs, Manchester City, Everton and West Ham among others to avoid relegation. If they can win those crucial points, we might just continue to see them play on the worlds’ biggest stage.
One glimmer of light for Villa is the FA Cup. Finding themselves in the sixth round, a win over West Brom on March 7 would lead them to a spot in the semi-finals, and maybe a shot at winning it all. If there next few league games don’t go well, that may become the focus. At least an FA Cup would bring some joy to the faces of Villa fans.
Villa hasn’t had to taste relegation since 1987 where they spent one season in the then Second Division and it’s fair to say they don’t want to become repeat offenders.
In the soccer hierarchy, Aston Villa are pretty high on the chain. They are built into the foundation of the Premier League and English soccer. If we were to see their absence, it would shock the soccer world, and is a reminder that performance measures success more than history.