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2010/11 Review of the Season: Aston Villa

May 31, 2011

Martin O’Neill. Kevin MacDonald. Gerard Houiller. Gary McAllister.

No club would be able to go through four different managers in a season and still expect to be successful. O’Neill left on the eve of the season kicking off. With all of the pre-season and preparation completed, his relationship with his employers finally reached breaking point. That left the team in the hands of Kevin MacDonald but it was always made clear that he was simply taking care of duties until a permanent appointment was made. He tried to lay stake to the role full-time but was eventually beaten to the job by Gerard Houllier.

The constant changing at the top and the new ideas of the Frenchman didn’t help the fortunes of the team. They struggled for consistency and a string of injuries forced Houllier to utilise his younger players more than he would have liked. The youngsters showed immediate promised but they struggled where their more experienced club mates would have seen out crucial results.

Having just about reached the coveted forty point mark and avoided being sucked into a relegation battle, Houllier was struck by a heart problem that passed over control to his assistant Gary McAllister for the remaining games. He eventually guided the team to finish in ninth. From four managers, a top half finish has to be considered as at least decent.

Regular Starting Eleven

Game of the season Aston Villa 3-0 West Ham The fact that Villa’s best performance of the season was on the opening day is almost enough to sum up their term. Mere hours after O’Neill had walked out on the club, they looked slick in possession and stylish in attack as they brushed Avram Grant’s men aside. Things started so well.

Player of the season Stewart Downing Where the rest of his teammates performance levels seemed to go up and down on an almost weekly level, Downing remained largely consistent throughout the season. Comfortable on the ball and capable across the midfield, he provided a string of assists and scored seven vital goals throughout the year. The recently recalled England international stood out in the Villa team all season long.

Season in a tweet

Biggest disappointment Stephen Ireland He was supposed to replace James Milner in the centre of the Villa midfield. Forced out of City for good reason other than the fact that he wasn’t a foreign import, Ireland should have suited a club like Aston Villa and the style of football they played. Things didn’t work out for him and he was shipped off to Newcastle in the January transfer window.

Changes needed for next season? According to the Birmingham Mail, Gerard Houllier is set to leave the club later this week. That will make the task of any new manager just the more difficult as before they join Ashley Young as well as some others could have already signed with Villa’s rivals. The England winger is being chased by a long line of potential suitors and this summer is expected to see him moving on.

As well as trying to replace Young in the starting line-up, Villa also need to bolster their squad options as they looked practically light on a few occasions this season. Richard Dunne and James Collins need at least competition for their places, if replacements aren’t to be found and Darren Bent will need someone else to shoulder the responsibility of getting goals. Getting Nicklas Bendtner from Arsenal would be a great start.

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