This season has been one filled with pessimism and discontent for most Aston Villa fans. With an unwelcome manager, a squad stretched to the limit and a season ending with a fight against relegation from the Premier League, there has not been much to look forward to for the Villa faithful.
It has been a testing campaign for all involved, but finally Villa fans can have hope for a brighter future, and that hope stems once more from the younger generation of Aston Villa players. After a 2-0 victory over Sunderland, Aston Villa’s reserves, made up of much of the club’s younger contingent, have been confirmed as champions of the Premier Reserve League South for the fourth time in five seasons.
The Villa second string have been a dominant force for the entire campaign, with several exceptional performances along the way to earning their latest title victory. Their two home derbies against Wolverhampton Wanderers and West Bromwich Albion were something to be remembered in particular. An impressive 4-1 victory against the Albion was overshadowed somewhat by a staggering 7-1 victory against a strong looking Wolves side back in January. Andreas Weimann was on the score sheet that day, netting a hat-trick past the Wolves goalkeeper. Weimann also netted a stunning hat-trick in the game at West Brom a few weeks later in the reserve clash, an achievement which was not left unrewarded by first team manager Alex McLeish.
Weimann was given a chance in the first team as a late substitute against Fulham, snatching the winner with only minutes to spare, and made it two in three league games as his superb strike earned Villa a point against Stoke earlier in the week. He has not been the only Villa youth product to catch the eye in recent weeks, either.
Nathan Baker, Eric Lichaj, Gary Gardner and Chris Herd have all been instrumental in the success of Villa’s youth side for the past few years, and this season due to poor form and injuries to senior players have finally had their chance to mix it with the first team. For the most part they have been very impressive, and have kept Villa fighting through a tough time considering the position they have found themselves in the Premier League. Add to that the rise of Ciaran Clark, Barry Bannan, Nathan Delfouneso and Marc Albrighton into the Villa senior team over the past two seasons, and you can see why the future is looking bright for the Midlands club.
For McLeish and his side, the present is the more concerning matter. With Queens Park Rangers and Wigan Athletic both picking up impressive wins on Wednesday night, they have now both moved to within four points of Villa. Villa face Manchester United in their next fixture at Old Trafford knowing that they will need to pick up points if they are to steer clear of the relegation dogfight. A loss for them and wins for others could see them just three points clear from the dreaded drop, and the short-term for Villa may not look so bright after all.
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