Thomas Draper looks back on a season of scraping through for the Villans.
How did your club fare compared to your pre-season hopes/expectation?
Before it began, for myself and I think Villa fans in general, the hope was that we would finally have a season without being involved in a relegation scrap. Unfortunately, we only just managed to scrape enough points together to stay in the division, although I think most Villa fans would have taken survival and an FA Cup final in July.
Unbelievably, in the season that we had, there were two! Beating the Baggies 2-1 at home injected some belief in the squad, whilst securing a place in the FA Cup final by beating Liverpool 2-1 at Wembley gave the fans something to cheer.
Season’s low point?
Again, there are two. In the league, it has to be the 0-2 defeat away at Hull in February where we played appallingly and looked down and out. That game of course resulted in Paul Lambert being sacked shortly after. Mid-season sackings can go one of two ways, and as such that was a huge gamble. The other has to be the FA Cup final: All that hype and hope for what was ultimately an embarrassing evening.
Player of the year
I think all Villa fans would agree with me, despite Christian Benteke’s heroics towards the end of the season, it has to be Fabian Delph. Always tried his best, and was regularly the standout performer.
Was there a particular goal/moment that got you out of your seat?
Carles Gil’s goal against Bournemouth was a strike of beauty to witness, as was Benteke’s last minute free kick equaliser at home to QPR, which had a massive element of relief about it.
Player you’d be happiest see leave this summer
I doubt many will agree with me, but I would say Benteke if we can get somebody to match the £32.5m release clause. Our squad needs an overhaul, and that money could buy 4 or 5 players to improve the first team.
Want your manager to still be in charge next term?
Yes, Sherwood kept us up, and we have a chance next season, if we buy well, to move away from relegation into the fabled land of mid table safety and beyond.
You can go back in time and offer the gaffer one bit of advice prior to the season just gone based on what you know is to come. What would it be?
Cross the ball into Benteke more often! Doing that under Sherwood got the big man scoring again and if we had done that earlier in the season maybe we wouldn’t have been so close to the drop. Oh, and buy a full back in January – we had them all injured by March.
Which opposing player received the loudest boos and which opposing player impressed you the most?
Probably Stewart Downing when West Ham came to Villa Park, although Ben Foster got plenty of stick that turned into cheers when he had a mare in March. I’d love us to sign Kieran Trippier if possible, he was impressive. Then again, our defence made anyone look like Messi this year (Sadio Mane for example) so it’s hard to tell.
If at all, how did the media’s portrayal of your club in 2014/15 differ from the reality?
I think it was spot on regarding performances, we were portrayed as a poor side who was struggling to score a goal for the most part and had a very weak defence, and err, we were all of the above. The one area where the media, particularly the BBC, got it totally wrong was regards to the pitch invasion after the West Brom cup game, where because of the actions of about 40 people, the other 30,000 odd of us were all wrongly described as all being hooligans. Funny though, how similar pitch invasions by Reading and Bournemouth fans didn’t get any negative media coverage though eh?