Skipper Ron Vlaar has said that Villa must face up to the hard facts of the difficult season we again had, because it's perfectly clear to everyone that things must improve.
Following on from the disappointing final day loss to Spurs, which just capped off another pathetic campaign from the club, Vlaar told the Official Site that having finished in 15th place for the second season running we simply cannot do this again next season, because everybody deserves better.
'It was really hard for us, the staff and for the fans. It needs to be better, one thing is for sure. The most important thing, though, is that we secured our Premier League status.'
Vlaar goes on to say that following on from last season, the feeling over the summer was pretty good because we had turned our results around and had started climbing the table and that was obviously going to be our aim for this campaign, and whilst we can all debate performances, Vlaar feels to begin with we were doing just that.
'But in the last couple of months we have dropped. Results were bad and everybody knows that. It's frustrating. It's a hard fact we have to deal with, we have the summer to recover and start over again.'
The Dutchman goes on to say that some big lessons have been learnt over the past two seasons, but having struggled in each of those two years, it's now time that the squad took some significant steps forward because we have shown we can play, look dangerous, entertain and we now have to prove we can do it consistently.
'There have been a lot of learning moments in the last couple of years. You want to start to look at midtable and build from that. That didn't happen this year either so we have to make some steps in our development as a team. There are some hard rules in football and we have to deal with that.'
One boost for next season in amongst all of the uncertainty and doom surrounding Villa Park at the moment is that we will be able to make a proper judgement on Jores Okore who will be significantly upping his training and fitness over the summer having been out for the vast majority of our last campaign.
With him returning to training already and slowly getting himself back into tip top shape, Okore has also been on the interview list today and he's talked about hopefully striking up a good defensive partnership with Vlaar next campaign.
'In my opinion, Ron has been excellent for Villa. I have been really impressed with him - as a defender and as a skipper. He's the rock of the defence, he's the one with all the experience.'
Okore goes on to say that everybody looks up to Vlaar and he leads by example both on and off the pitch in training.
'He takes responsibility for everything on the pitch. He's getting more and more confident every day too and he seems to improve with every game.'
I'm well aware some will not agree with our young defender there, but he does point out that this is only Vlaar's second season in the Premiership and I'd think we could all agree that he has come on leaps and bounds from his first year, but that's not to say he still doesn't have further to go.
'It can take time to settle but Ron is consistently strong every time he plays. He's doing great for Villa, hopefully he will continue getting stronger next season. I am up for the challenge of trying to get into the team myself. I feel like I had a good connection with Ron when we played together. We didn't play a great deal but we did have an understanding, it felt good.'
Adding the same is true of Ciaran Clark and Nathan Baker, because they are 'good defenders and good guys' and the feeling amongst the defence is very tight and they are all mates, so he's looking forward to some very healthy competition when we return for pre season training.
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