Aston Villa fans voiced their displeasure with banners in the past, but the phrase ‘Proud History, Bright Future’ is making a return.
Words: Regan Foy | @findfoy
When Aston Villa were relegated from the Premier League, thousands of fans voiced their displeasure at the way their club had been handled through banners and signs reading “Proud History, What Future?”, a jibe towards a previous marketing ploy when the club celebrated their 25th anniversary of winning the European Cup.
The signs were warranted, as were chants directed towards club owner Randy Lerner and former defender Joleon Lescott following some ill-advised comments after Aston Villa’s 1-0 loss to Manchester United which all but condemned the side to their eventual three seasons in the Sky Bet Championship.
Fans would have likely though the same thing in the summer of 2018, when the club came close to entering administration and the possibility of selling off important assets like Jack Grealish, now club captain, James Chester and Jonathan Kodjia became a stark possibility.
Luckily for Aston Villa, messrs Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens came riding in on their billion-dollar chariot to save the day – and promised to bring the club back to its former glories. Since then, the right appointments have been made in key places – Christian Purslow acts as a minority shareholder and CEO, Johan Lange has taken on the Director of Football role after an ill-fated spell for Jesus Garcia Pitarch, and the club has become modernised with improved investment, facilities and structure.
Perhaps most importantly, the right appointments have been made from a managerial and coaching perspective too. Dean Smith, an Aston Villa fan, heads up the management team, whilst former Champions League winner John Terry acts as an assistant alongside Richard O’Kelly and the recently appointed Craig Shakespeare – Claudio Ranieri’s assistant during Leicester City’s iconic Premier League title charge.
Improvements have been made to the entire of Aston Villa. The first team squad is young, hungry and improving – securing their Premier League safety with a number of games to spare and currently in the hunt for a top ten finish after surviving on the final day of the previous campaign. The women’s side is battling against relegation after heavy investment last summer in their first season in the Women’s Super League. And there has been large amounts of investment in the youth structure of the club, with a number of key members of staff joining, and an incredible amount of young prospects vying for a spot in the senior squad.
For the first time in over a decade, things seem to be on the up for Aston Villa. There is a clear path for young talent to break into the first team – as showcased by Jacob Ramsey’s role this season – whilst the club is keen not to rest on their laurels in terms of bringing in quality, first-team ready players either.
There was a five year plan to get back into the Premier League and then into Europe under Tony Xia, the man who initially took over from Randy Lerner, which fell incredibly short. Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens are promoting a new five-year plan, which has been shown through the numerous long-term contracts for key members of the playing squad, and the new signings like Matty Cash and Ollie Watkins signing onto long-term deals too.
Everything is in place for Aston Villa to return to the upper-echelons of English football, and continual improvements will continue to be made as the club remains in the Premier League. Just a look at how Wes Edens managed to mastermind the Milwaukee Bucks’ emphatic rise to the top of American Basketball will show you that there’s every reason to be excited again.
It’s ‘Proud History, Bright Future’ once again for the claret and blue.