Villa have endured another poor Premier League campaign but unexpected silverware could help fans forget some of the disappointment.
Aston Villa will be bidding to give their travelling fans something to celebrate tomorrow when they take on Liverpool in their FA Cup semi-final at Wembley Stadium, knowing an upset win would help further ease the pain of what’s been a testing Premier League campaign.
With a potential matchup against Arsenal awaiting, a first FA Cup triumph since 1957 would prove a huge achievement for a club that’s fallen on hard times but, after spending months battling the drop, would it deem the season a success?
After three consecutive relegation-threatened campaigns, the since-departed Paul Lambert in fact managed to get Villa off to a promising start to the season, guiding them to second-place in the table after four games, including a 1-0 win at Anfield.
However, after being handed a new long-term deal in mid-September, the club’s ensuing form under the Scot proved nothing short of disastrous, with a run of just two wins in 21 league matches again putting their top-flight status in the balance.
Sacked in February after dropping into the bottom three following a dismal 2-0 defeat at Hull City, things looked worse than ominous at the time and Villa supporters were left wondering whether trips to the likes of Huddersfield and Brighton would be in store come August.
Their fortunes have since improved following Tim Sherwood’s appointment, with a mini revival lifting them six points above the drop zone with five matches left, but it still remains hard to overlook the previous months of hardship.
In the meantime, the FA Cup has proved a welcome distraction from their league struggles and, while overcoming both Liverpool and Arsenal will prove a tall order, it would be foolish to write off their chances while star man Christian Benteke is in his current hot form.
With their survival odds now looking good, the chances of silverware and a 15th-place finish are still on the card but whether that kind of season could be considered a job well done is up for debate.
Given how low expectations were at the beginning of the campaign, a fair few fans would probably be more than satisfied but, on the other hand, it’s difficult for any club of Villa’s size to look back on a relegation fight with a feeling of satisfaction, regardless of adjoined cup success.
Nevertheless, with Sherwood’s arrival lifting the mood around the club to levels that haven’t been since Martin O’Neill’s tenure, the claret and blue faithful have good reason to be optimistic for the future and, even if their FA Cup bid fails, things look to be on the up at Villa Park.