Aston Villa, then, are almost certainly heading down from the Premier League at the end of this season. A home thrashing against Chelsea earlier this afternoon means that they the thin likelihood of new caretaker-manager Eric Black is starting to vanish on the horizon. This afternoon, we’re going back a little over a quarter of a century to the second half of the 1988/89 season, and Villa had just been promoted back to the top flight after a year away. Indeed, they’d kicked off their return to the First Division with a comfortable three-one win against Millwall.
By the following spring, however, things weren’t going so well for the club. A run of five games without a win had immediately preceded their trip to The Den for their return match against Millwall – who they’d also knocked out of the League Cup earlier in the season – and only two more wins over the course of the remainder of the season would mean that the team would only finish it one place – and one point – above the relegation places, a far closer shave than anybody would have expected a few months earlier.
Millwall, meanwhile, had the sun on their faces in the spring of 1989. Under manager John Docherty, they had briefly led the First Division table the previous October and went into this game in third place, before falling away to end the season in tenth, the lowest league position that the club managed all season. The following season, however, the clubs’ roles were reversed. Aston Villa ended that season as runners-up to Liverpool, while Millwall’s brief sojourn in the top flight ended with the team finishing in bottom place in the table. Commentary comes from Brian Moore.
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