Seven points above the relegation zone, 19 points off the play-offs and a staggering 30 points behind Championship leaders Newcastle United. It’s fair to say things haven’t exactly gone according to plan for Aston Villa this season.
Having already parted ways with Roberto Di Matteo back in October, the Villans are yet to see an improvement in results, with Steve Bruce’s honeymoon period very much a distant memory now.
Following Bruce’s appointment, our traders immediately cut Aston Villa’s promotion odds to just 5/1. Fast forward 20 games, and that price is now 100/1.
The club have spent in excess of £63m since the beginning of the season, and Bruce himself has brought in seven new arrivals. But they just can’t seem to find a winning formula.
Defeat against Barnsley this week made it four losses on the bounce for the West Midlands outfit, who’ve picked up just one point so far in 2017. No side in the top four tiers of English football has picked up fewer since the turn of the year.
So is Bruce under pressure?
The odds would suggest he still has time to turn things around.
At 1/3, it’s looking very likely the former Birmingham City boss will be in charge on the opening day of the 2017-18 campaign.
It looks as though he has the backing of his chairman, Dr Tony Xia though, who has never shied away from answering questions on social media from supporters.
And despite the huge sums of money he’s parted ways with since taking over, the Chinese businessman refuses to accept that there’s a problem.
As we agreed to make changes in Jan window, I personally thought realistically we’d use this season 2settle everything&focus next season. <ahref=”https://t.co/h8dzVhkSWp”>https://t.co/h8dzVhkSWp
— Dr. Tony Xia (@Dr_TonyXia) February 5, 2017
We’re still on our 5-10 years’ plan no matter how hard it’ll be. The beginning always the most difficult. Be positive but work steadfastly.
— Dr. Tony Xia (@Dr_TonyXia) February 5, 2017
That’s all well and good, but it’s the here and now which fans will be concerned about.
And the fact of the matter is that the odds suggest Villa are actually more likely to go down (40/1) this year than they are to go up.
While we don’t think that will be the case, there’s only so much longer that fans can buy into the idea that the club is firmly on track.
Only six of Villa’s current squad have scored in the league this season, with just three of those scoring more than one goal. Was that in Xia’s plan?
Being 16th in the league after 31 games also surprisingly isn’t mentioned in this five year plan, laid out before a ball was kicked this season…
Get back -stay -stay top-become great. https://t.co/E766EP2kcI
— Dr. Tony Xia (@Dr_TonyXia) July 26, 2016
In fact, if anything, that tweet suggests the aim in Year One was to get back into the Premier League.
And he’ll almost certainly have to wait another year for this wish to be granted…
Five promotions! The fifth for Villa! https://t.co/UQ8itNMdzb
— Dr. Tony Xia (@Dr_TonyXia) October 14, 2016
Xia’s latest plan suggests this year is merely a settling in period for himself, the manager and the new players.
But becoming accustomed to life in the Championship is a dangerous tactic.
Fans would’ve much preferred an immediate return to the top-flight, certainly with the amount of money which has been spent on new signings.
And it’s an approach which hasn’t been taken by both Newcastle and Norwich City, who were also relegated from the Premier League last year. And unsurprisingly, an instant return is still a realistic goal for those two clubs.
Hull City and Burnley were relegated in 2014-15, along with Queens Park Rangers. The former two clubs were promoted again straight away. QPR, however, are still some way off that target.
In fact, the history books show that failure to return to the top-flight within a year means it’s unlikely promotion will be achieved at the second time of asking.
Of the last 27 sides to be relegated from the Premier League, not one has returned to the top tier in their second of Championship football.
Eight managed immediate promotions, while the other 21 teams took at least three years to find themselves back in the big time again.
And even more worrying for Villa fans is the fact that 15 of those teams are still trying to do it.
With that in mind, the 8/1 on offer for them to win the league next season isn’t exactly something we’d be tempted by.
So what do fans think? Where have things gone wrong this year, and what needs to change?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing