For the first time since the season of 2010-11, we have finished a way away from the relegation zone.nThat season, under Gerard Houllier, we finished ninth in the Premier League.

Six years and six managers later, we have managed to achieve a similar standing. Of course, with one game to go small differences can still be made but overall it is a good deal better than anything we have experienced since 2011.

The one main fact I am of course omitting at the moment is that we have ground our way to mid-table mediocrity finally in the division below Houllier’s team played.

I am not for one moment suggesting that we are back to the good times. I don’t think anyone could interpret the set of facts I have just laid out as a celebration.

What I am suggesting, and certainly hoping for, is that we may have finally stopped the rot that set in after Houllier proper but realistically things were deteriorating after O’Neill.

Has Steve Bruce stopped the rot?It may be that Bruce is not the long term manager of Aston Villa and knowing football these days who knows what the odds are on him being here at the end of next season. It may be that a lot of the players will not be here in a few years, but if they can get it together next season then maybe mid table mediocrity, at least in this league, can be banished to history.

Mid table in the Championship now has to be to the low point, from which we build.

I am optimistic about our chances for next year. It will be the most stable squad and management situation we will have had for a long time which is certainly a plus. There has been far too much fluctuation and of course, that is to do with the poor results but now Bruce has had a good chunk of the season with the players and we have finished comfortably above the drop we can really start to kick on.

There are plenty of teams to take as an example of how bigger and better things can come after a relegation.

Of course, the Manchester Citys of this world were helped mainly with a vast injection of money but teams like, Southampton and more recently Leicester show that in just a few quick years you really can forget about the dark periods. That is the luxury success brings.

Of course, let’s not let ourselves get carried away but let’s be resolved to ensure this really is as bad as it gets and the only way is up from here.


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