Hands up if you want Villa to win the league
It's unlikely with Utd currently clean-sheeting their way through opponents and finally knocking 'em in for fun. And Liverpool and Chelsea will do their utmost to get ahead of them. Especially Liverpool who believe this is their year. Potentially, Arsenal might drop out of the Top 4 and lose Champions League football and a shed load of cash with it. I say might because there is plenty of time for more swapping of places allowing for the Gunners to climb back into contention. And there's always the possibility Villa might choke.
Personally, Martin O'Neill and his men HAVE to crack the Top 4 because, well.....because it's time for the Cartel to have its monopoly broken-up. Sick of Grand Slam Sundays and Richard Keys dismissiveness of anything that isn't Utd, Chelsea, Liverpool or Arse? Bored of massive massive analysis from Jamie Redknapp? How great would it be if there were 5 or 6 clubs fighting toe-to-toe for those 4 positions? Fantasy football, right?
Cracking it is one thing. Villa would then need to maintain their position with Europe's elite for longer than a season. No point having a one-night stand and finishing 6th the following year. That's the tricky part and any of the current Top 4 that (might) lose out this season would be gunning to finish back up there the season after. The distraction of being in the Champs League might have a negative effect on league form. Still a nice scenario for Villa to be in. Their transfer policy would have to change to compete on both fronts.
As for the impact failure to reach the premier European (world) Champions of Champions competition........it could simply be disastrous. Imagine if Arsenal didn't make it. Financially, it wouldn't be too great for them (I doubt they would be that strapped for cash) and their ego might be a little dented, but their pedigree won't be hurt too bad. It's the itchy feet syndrome that may well break out across their squad that will be the main concern. I'd much rather see Chelsea not make it. If anything, for the potential of a Roman holiday.....one that he doesn't return from.
If the qualification for the Champs League does change to the Top 3 rather than 4, then things will get interesting in England. Finally.
Still, the Cartel are very much there on merit at the minute, and Aston Villa have to keep believing and plugging away and hope for a bit of luck that the teams around them self-destruct once or twice.
This has almost happened before, hasn't it? My advice to Villa would be.......avoid the hotel lasagna.