"IT WAS GEORGE RAMSAY WHO FIRST MOULDED THE STYLE OF THE CLUB'S PLAY, AND THE ASTON VILLA TEAM NEVER LOST THE REPUTATION THEY GAINED FOR SHORT, QUICK PASSING UNDER RAMSAY'S DIRECTION”
The 1896-97 League and Cup double winning team
In 1876, a 21 year old named George Ramsey passed a practice match being played at Aston Park and was asked to make up the numbers. It would be the start of a 59 year association with Aston Villa, beginning as a player and later becoming the world’s first paid manager, establishing the club as the greatest of the Victorian era and himself as one of the most successful managers of all time.
Ramsey was hired as manager in 1886 (though his official title was club secretary on the club committee), following his retirement from playing due to injury 4 years earlier. He introduced a tactical switch from the English style of the time dependent on physicality and dribbling, instead favouring the possession based game that was pioneered in Scotland, notably by Queens Park. He recruited fellow Scot Archie Hunter, one of the most prominent footballers of the Victorian age, and it was he who would become the first player to score in every round of the F.A Cup en route to them lifting the trophy for the first time in 1887. But much more was to come…
Just 2 years after Ramsey’s appointment as manager, fellow Villa committee member William Mcgregor contacted other clubs with the following proposal “I beg to tender the following suggestion: that 10 or 12 of the most prominent clubs in England combine to arrange home and away fixtures each season”. Until this point the majority of matches had been friendlies but following the professionalisation of football in 1885, many fixtures were being cancelled when a club offered a more lucrative proposal of a fixture elsewhere.
The issue of professionalism had already created a divide in football, with the midlands and northern clubs broadly being in favour of it and the southern clubs and F.A initially opposing it. Following the threat of a rival governing body to the F.A (the British Football Association), the F.A relented and agreed to professionalism. This laid open the way for the creation of the Football League, a league that villa would not only help create but also dominate.
The following decade saw them lift the Division 1 title for the first time, their 1894 triumph serving as the catalyst for what still remains the club’s most successful period. They would go on to dominate the division and win the title 5 times in 7 seasons with their last title of the Victorian Age coming in 1900, a year before the death of Queen Victoria. Ramsey went on to lead the club to 3 further F.A cups and a Division 1 title in 1910, his 6th title in total. To this day, only Sir Alex Ferguson has won more top tier English titles. Aston Villa have won the title just once since Ramsey’s time at the club ended.
Their sole other title win in 1981 qualified them for the European Cup and led to their most famous achievement of the modern era when they defeated Bayern Munich to become European champions. However their golden period remains the Victorian Age, when ‘The Villans’ reigned supreme.
THE VICTORIAN VILLANS CHALLENGE
 You must play a short, quick passing game.
 You must win the League and FA Cup double at least once.
 You must have a Scottish player feature in 20+ games in each season.
- Premier League first season board expectations Top half finish
- European first season expectations Reach latter stages of the Europa League
- First season media prediction 9th
FM24 Club Overview
PERSONNELAssistant Manager - Pablo Villa
Club captain - John McGinn
Vice captain - Emiliano Martinez
Classic player/legend - Paul McGrath
Key positions to strengthen - Left Back & Striker
Key player - Pau Torres
Hot prospect - Jhon Duran
FINANCESBalance - £5m
Transfer budget - £3m
Wage budget - £2.6m a week
MAIN RIVALBirmingham City
Capacity - 42777
FACILITIESTraining facilities - State of the art
Youth facilities - Superb
EMILIANO MARTINEZ ROBIN OLSEN
DIEGO CARLOS EZRI KONSA PAU TORRES CLEMENT LENGLET TYRONE MINGS KORTNEY HAUSE MATTY CASH CALUM CHAMBERS ALEX MORENO LUCAS DIGNE
LEANDER DENDONCKER YOURI TIELEMANS DOUGLAS LUIZ BOUBACAR CAMARA JACOB RAMSEY JOHN MCGINN
OLLIE WATKINS LEON BAILEY EMILIANO BUENDIA BERTRAND TRAORE NICOLO ZANIALO MOUSSA DIABY
THE AVFC FAITHFUL (@theavfcfaithful):
Aston Villa have a strong squad with depth in a lot of areas but there is certainly room for improvement. Right back is an area that can be strengthened with Matty Cash the current starter, and whilst Ezri Konsa can play right back there are no other senior natural right backs at the club. Another possible area of concern is striker where Ollie Watkins is the only senior striker. Also, Jhon Duran has high promise and potential but may need a season of first team football before he can deputise for Ollie Watkins. Backup goalkeeper and a backup defensive midfielder may also need to be positions to focus on with the backups a big gap from the starting players, and with a big season juggling Conference League and premier league football, to be successful in both, signings may be needed. Aston Villa are strong in wide areas with Moussa Diaby and Leon Bailey just two of many options, and with long term injuries to Mings and Buendia, more to come after the 1st season too. Overall the squad is strong enough to challenge for the top 7 once again.
Aston Villa have a pretty decent squad and under the right manager could upset the applecart at the top of the Premier League. This is far from the complete project but a project well on its way with the right guidance. There are plenty of youth options available for you also with the likes of Omari Kellyman, Tristan Rowe and Kerr Smith all expected to have bright futures. This year we are lucky with David de Gea available on a free transfer so if you are able to cash in on Olsen and persuade the former United keeper to play second fiddle to Martinez it could prove to be a very strong department. The right back position is another area I would look to strengthen - with Kaine Kesler-Hayden on loan at Plymouth, depending on his progress, a loan deal may help for the first season. And finally, competition for Ollie Watkins is needed with youngster Jhon Duran not quite ready for first team football.