Aston Villa finished the 2016/17 season in 13th position in the Championship which it has to be said is about absolutely right for Steve Bruce’s man. The midlands club were fairly formidable at home with just 3 defeats in their 23 home matches in a mammoth 46 match season in their first season in the Championship following their relegation the previous year.
They scored 33 goals at home but the problem was away from the home turf of Villa Park. On their travels they were regularly sick as dogs with just 4 away wins to their credit all season. They couldn’t score particularly well away either with just 14 goals coming from their 23 matches.
They finished the season with 16 wins, 16 defeats and 14 draws and had a goal difference of minus one. Just two more goals would have seen Villa leapfrog both Cardiff City and Preston North End as all three teams finished on 62 points, four ahead of both Barnsley and fellow midland club Wolves.
Early in the season Villa looked in trouble as they managed just one win in their first 12 games under then new manager Steve Bruce who had left Hull City despite taking them into the Premiership the previous season.
Aston Villa were languishing in 20th place just one place off the relegation zone. They were drawing too many matches with 8 of those 12 games ending in stalemate with the opposition. Then a run of 7 victories in 11 games saw them up as high as 9th place and on the fringes of the play off spots. However a dreadful run of 7 defeats in 8 games saw them drop like a stone back into 17th position. In a topsy turvy see saw season they than 7 of the next 8 games to put them back up into 11th position but the chances of a play off spot were gone.
Steve Bruce lamented the long season of 46 games in the division but to be fair it is the same for the other 23 teams. A disappointing end to the campaign saw just one win in the last 6 games so Villa were like a Jeckle and Hyde team throughout the season and 13th place was exactly where Villa should have finished. With the season over Bruce can regroup, bring in new players, get rid of a sackful of underachieving stars and lower the wage bill. Steve Bruce is the right man for the job. He’s been there, seen it and done it and will overhaul the current squad without a doubt.
Villa lost the first game of the season to Sheffield Wednesday 1-0 but things looked up when they stuffed Rotherham 3-0 in the following match. Sadly for Villa this was a false dawn as everybody else also stuffed poor Rotherham at some point or other during the season. Villa took a bad defeat 3-1 away from Bristol City and then couldn’t stop drawing against Derby, Nottingham Forest, Ipswich and a decent draw albeit at home with eventual champions Newcastle United amongst other draws.
Successive wins in October over eventual play off teams Fulham and Reading put Villa back on track as they enjoyed a decent run which included draw at Wolves and a strong Brighton team down in Sussex before a 3-1 home win over Cardiff City. A dreadful run at the start of the year until the end of February had the whole club rattled with a 3-0 defeat by Brentford probably the worst although a 3-1 home defeat by Barnsley took the biscuit as far as a lack of effort was concerned.
This awful period of the season was thankfully halted with a 1-0 home win over Derby and there followed 6 wins out of 7 with a solitary 1-0 defeat at Huddersfield. This was the only goal the Villa conceded in 8 games as the defence became miserly. Unfortunately this was not too last as the last 6 games saw only one win despite it being a 1-0 win over bitter rivals Birmingham City that potentially could have relegated City. Before this Villa had endured two successive 3-1 defeats at home to Reading and away at Fulham. On the last day of the league season Jack Grealish rescued a point for Villa in a 1-1 draw with Brighton which spoilt Brighton’s party. A win would have given the South Coast club the championship and not Newcastle.
In the cups Villa were defeated at the first hurdle going down 2-0 to Spurs in the FA Cup 3rd round in January and defeated in the EFL Cup by Luton Town in a dreadful 3-1 defeat as far back as August.
The pick of the players for me was midfielder Conor Hourihane, striker Jonathan Kodija signed from Bristol City and goalkeeper Sam Johnstone on loan from Manchester United and a keeper with a great future ahead of him wherever he goes.
As upside down seasons go this was it for Villa but I have no doubt with Steve Bruce at the helm that Villa will come back stronger next season and fight for promotion. This was our final season of sponsoring Aston Villa football club and it has been a privilege to report on their games this season and it only leaves the whole crew here at Energy Bet Casino to wish Aston Villa all the very best for the future!