One of only seven clubs to have played in every Premier League season and one of just five English clubs to have lifted the European cup, Aston Villa?s pedigree is not in doubt. But as this season approaches its crux, Villa find themselves clinging desperately to English football?s top table.
After consecutive seasons of little investment in the squad and after the disastrous appointment of Alex McLeish, the club narrowly avoided relegation last term. Now under the tutorship of Paul Lambert they face an even trickier battle for survival in 2013.
The average age of the current Villa squad is 23, the youngest in the league, and this shows. Poor defensive displays and the squandering of leads against opponents including Manchester United, Everton and Southampton, have severely hampered the club?s survival chances.
But, while the squad is young, it is no doubt talented. Christian Benteke has been one of the buys of the season and if Villa are to stay up, it will be in no small part down to his goals. There?s also Ciaran Clark, a typically rough around the edges young centre half, whose partnership with the more experienced Ron Vlaar has shown signs of promise. In fact, all of Villa?s young players have shown promise this season, and it is clear they all believe in what their manager is trying to achieve.
Last weekend?s draw with Everton showed flashes of what these young players can do, and if they can steel themselves for one last push, they may just survive. I for one hope they do, because the league wouldn?t be the same without them.