Tag: Aston Villa

Back To The Eighties: 1980/81, Part 5 – Aston Villa Start To Come Of Age

As the nights draw in and summer started to turn to autumn in 1980, it was starting to become clear that perhaps Liverpool might not have everything to themselves over the course of the 1980/81. The defending champions were in second place in the First Division table, but a number of clubs were bunched together in the chasing pack behind the early leaders Ipswich Town was one that had spent many of the previous years in a state of relative difficulty, Aston Villa. Relegated from the First Division of the Football League in 1967, it took eight years for one of England’s most storied clubs to regain its poise, even spending two years in the Third Division between 1970 and 1972 before getting promoted back to the top flight again in 1975. Still, though, Villa hadn’t been the champions of England since 1910, and with a relatively small squad of players to choose from – they would complete the season having used just fourteen players, a record which hasn’t been broken and is unlikely now ever to be – and, although the club had successively finished in the top half of the First Division table since its return and won the League Cup in 1977, it had seldom looked like challenging for the league title. They started the fourth of October 1980 in fourth place in the table and...

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Bradford City’s Triumph Eclipses Aston Villa’s Disastrous Night

Just when he thought that things couldn’t possibly get any worse, they did for Paul Lambert at Villa Park last night. A place in the League Cup final was his one shot at redemption, an opportunity to be able to lift the spirits of his seemingly psychologically shattered team and turn around one of the most alarming collapses in form that the Premier League had seen in recent years. For any Premier League club overturning a two goal deficit from the first leg of a tie such of this should have been eminently achievable, but Bradford City dug deep, scored another set piece goal and, in spite of a tense finish brought about by a second Villa goal, held on without too much difficulty to achieve something quite unprecedented in, perhaps, the entire history of English football. Much was said last night of the 1962 League Cup, when Rochdale of the Fourth Division reached the final of the competition before being beaten by Norwich City. To compare the League Cup finals of 1962 and 2013, however, is not to compare like with like. In its nascent years, it frequently looked as if the League Cup wouldn’t survive as a competition with the biggest clubs opting not to take part in it. Furthermore, the final of 1962 was not a Wembley occasion but a two legged affair shoehorned into the...

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Bradford City’s Joy Eclipses Aston Villa’s Bleakest Night Yet

As jobs go, Bradford City’s is only half-done. Their win against Aston Villa this evening in the first leg of the League Cup semi-final still has to be followed up with undoubtedly daunting trip to Villa Park for the second leg, and it would be foolish to believe that the Villa players could possibly not be stung to feelings of retribution by what happened at Valley Parade this evening. Tonight, however, is a chance for the club and its supporters to dream. The club from League Two is ninety minutes from achieving what we might have considered to be the unachievable – taking a club from the fourth tier of English football to Wembley for the final of a major trophy – after beating Aston Villa by three goals to one at Valley Parade, continuing what has become one of the most extraordinary stories of this season so far. This evening, they met a Premier League club as equals, and faced them down. Every step of way, Bradford defied the shortcomings that we might have expected a club from their division to display. There was no nervousness, they took their chances when presented to them, and they didn’t collapse after conceding a goal which halved their scarcely-believable two-nil lead with less than ten minutes of the match to play. At no point did this team allow itself to get...

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The Ongoing Stagnation Of Aston Villa Football Club

The crowd started to drift out of Villa Park with more than thirty minutes left to play, yesterday afternoon. This has been a wretched, dismal Christmas for the supporters of Aston Villa Football Club, who have, in the course of just three matches, seen a quiet sense of unease at the progress – or lack thereof – that their team had been making this season turn to something approaching outright alarm. First up came an eight goal thrashing at the hands of Chelsea in a match as one-sided as anything that we have seen in the Premier League in the last ten years or so. This was followed up by a home defeat at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur which ended in a four-nil defeat, but which could have been considerably worse. And then came Wigan Athletic at Villa Park. This, the previous two matches had confirmed, was now something of a litmus test for manager Paul Lambert, a simultaneous litmus test and half-term report for a team that has continued to stall since the departure of Alex McLeish during the summer. It was a test that Lambert’s team comprehensively failed. A goal down within three minutes, two further Wigan goals at the start of the second half from Arouna Koné killed this match stone dead as a contest and left Villa sitting a single, solitary point above the...

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