Downing Has European Ambitions
Stewart Downing has added his voice to the call for Champions League football next season, and admitted our involvement in the Europa League was a huge pull.
Speaking on the official site today he said he would like Villa to reach for the stars and go all out to break into the Top 4 after narrowly missing out last season.
Well I say narrowly as it's the only polite thing I can say about our season end.
'I think the aim should be Champions League. We were close last season and this time we should try to break up that top four.
'It would be great to have a good run in the Europa League too. The prospect of playing in Europe was the first thing that came to mind when I heard Villa were interested.
'I am certainly excited by the season ahead. It's a big season for us.'
It's definitely a big season for all at the club, despite the wonderous PR the quality of football last season was dire, our end of season form was relegation material and the only consistent thing we did was drop points.
The younger players now have more experience, not only of playing together, understanding the (lack) of tactics of the manager and some European experience but more importantly the mental experience and learning how to deal with the pressure of riding high, challenging on multiple, way a few fronts etc
We've seen the best and worst of our squad of players and next season we have to see consistently the best of them.
However, although it seems the done thing to bang on about the Top 4 and Champs League for the first half of the season as our squad stands we aren't good enough let alone big enough to have Top 4 hopes this season. Maybe that will change over the coming weeks depending on who we sign, but I'd hope the club have learnt from the PR campaign last season and deal in a little more reality.
It's all well and good Downing saying we should aim to break the Top 4, and the OS wheeling out half the squad to say the same thing because it sounds nice and fluffy - it would be far better to let the players Top 4 aims speak for themselves when they are on the pitch.