Have Aston Villa just missed a chance to leap ahead of Newcastle?

Have Aston Villa missed a chance to climb ahead of Newcastle United?

Newcastle United's relegation was confirmed on Wednesday night, but the damage was done in their last league game when they failed to beat Aston Villa.

Villa were relegated last month, put out of their misery well ahead of the climax to the season after a horrific campaign.

The two teams will be battling to win promotion next season along with Norwich City, also relegated, but have Aston Villa just missed a great chance to get ahead of their rivals?

Villa have been without a manager for weeks, with Remi Garde fired in March, and Eric Black placed in temporary charge.

Six weeks later they appear no closer to appointing a successor, and vital time has elapsed which could have been used to gain an edge on teams they will be competing with next season.

Had they appointed a manager after a fortnight, he could have spent the last month getting to know players, and scouting and preparing targets for the transfer window.

If Newcastle lose manager Rafa Benitez, as many expect they will, the Toon will enter the market for a new boss and could even cost Villa the man they want to appoint.

Villa have had time to plan for relegation for weeks, while Benitez and Newcastle as a whole have been in denial all season, and are now facing up to the reality.

Yet without a manager in charge, Villa are seemingly not in the strong position in terms of their planning that they really should be, and the chance to gain an advantage on Newcastle and steal a march on buying top Championship-ready players has been lost, and the two teams will now reset on an even keel.

Register for NEWCASTLE UNITED team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch