Villa’s European Adventure Ends Early

August comes to an end on Monday, and this year it will have outlived Aston Villa’s time in the 2008/09 Europa League by four days. Villa beat Rapid Vienna 2-1 at Villa Park last night, drawing 2-2 over the two legs and exiting the competition on away goals. One suspects that the inquest into the defeat is unlikely to be a very long one. The claret and blue quartier of Birmingham don’t seem to have been terribly enthused by the match, for one thing. Just over 22,000 people were all that the club could summon to turn out to watch the match. Aston Villa’s relationship with European football is certainly a peculiar one. Martin O’Neill’s decision to send a virtual reserve team into their quarter-final match in last year’s UEFA Cup against CSKA Moscow resulted in their elimination from the competition, the start of a slump in the Premier League that would go on to cost them dearly in the Premier League and cause some to wonder about his managerial abilities. Of course, one could argue that earning a place in the Champions League was his priority at the time but that particular decision can’t really be concluded to have had the desired result, considering that Arsenal ended up easing into the fourth Champions League place at a canter, although, of course, hindsight has twenty/twenty vision. Villa’s early elimination...

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