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Dave’s Villa Blog

ONE LAST PUSH

20-04-2010

Villa have still got an outside chance of getting into the Champions League. And as Dave Woodhall points out, does anything else matter?

Villa’s win against Portsmouth (or to be more accurate a Portsmouth XI, missing, as they did, several first teamers, with the rest having one eye on the cup final, and unable to name a full compliment of substitutes) means we’re still in with a shout of finishing fourth and the accompanying chance of entry to the glamour, excitement and untold riches of the Champions League.

To overtake both Manchester City and Spurs would mean winning all our four remaining games, starting with Hull away tomorrow, and anyone who can do that at the business end of the season deserves success.

Realistically, though, Villa seem destined for a place in the top six and a place in the Europa League. Fulham would doubtless disagree, but is this competition worth the bother?

It means daft kick-off times, league games shifted to a Sunday and early season excursions to destinations unknown. The money on offer is a pittance and no potential new signing is going to be swayed by the prospect of a glamour tie against Sigma Olomouc.

Martin O’Neill seems to have a strange relationship with this particular League. On the one hand he seems to set great store by qualification, then rarely puts out a full-strength team. Little wonder Villa Park is usually half-full for ties in the competition.

If that’s the case, why bother entering at all? Why not bow gracefully out of the race for sixth place, treat the rest of the season as preparation for the next campaign and give players such as Marc Albrighton and Nathan Delfouneso a decent run-out? Let’s see if they can shine in the Premier League and come back in August the better for the experience.

We’re playing Birmingham City on Sunday. The match hasn’t really caught the imagination so far, although I daresay it will get increased press coverage as the week progresses. Blues have done better than expected this season and it makes a change for us to be playing them this late on and for the game to be bigger for us than for them. Of course, next season we’ve got our real derby back.

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