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The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge

Started on 20 November 2020 by Aaron
Latest Reply on 5 September 2021 by YAMS
Get in what a season your having, get the top 4!!!

May - A Wonderful Year

Aston Villa 2-2 Wolves | Premier League | Mousset x2,
Aston Villa 4-0 Randers | Premier League | Mousset, Miazga, Nordtop (OG)
Manchester City 3-1 Aston Villa | Premier League | Cork
Aston Villa 0-0 Brentford | Premier League | N/A

It's been a rough ride in the last few games. With now wins from three Premier League matches it's amazing we were even within a shout for top 4 come the final day. But a few late slip ups from Spurs had us very much still within a shout.

Our matchup against Wolves, which now feels like 60th time we've played them in this save already, was the first of three important games in the decider to who can seal Champions League football. It was a difficult game and we had to work with everything to gain a point. We went 1-0 down early in the first half and some tactical changes had to be made before we could carve open the opposing defence.

Former Manchester United star Fred gave his side the lead after joining the midlands club in January for an estimated 12M pounds. Luckily for us, Mousset was in the mood for a brace and he kept us hanging on by a thread in 5th.

We qualified in a resounding 4-0 victory for the Europa Conference Final. A final which now we're there I can say I always expected to make regardless of what team we put out. Out of everyone I felt only the likes of AS Roma were on our level and so that would be found out in last game.

AS Roma vs Aston Villa. Belgium. Set the date.

Going into the City game I had never expected to win but after seeing the Spurs result it became clear we didn't even need a point. Should we lose to City, we'd be a point behind Spurs. In the last game we would be playing Brentford, and Tottenham would need all three points against Manchester City who needed to win to snatch the title from Liverpool.

We should have done much better in this one, at Villa Park with everything to play for I was a little disappointed we couldn't make more of a fight for it but alas it was not to be. Should we have won, Spurs still would have sealed the last Champions League spot by beating Manchester City 2-0 thanks to a Dele Alli brace.

As a result, Liverpool would against all odds take their 3rd successive Premier League title home. Typical, you don't see won for 30 years and you get 3 in 3 years. Mental really.

Now we have one game left this season. AS Roma in a European Final. Lets see if we can bring home our first trophy!!
This season is still a success for me. Hopefully you can crack the top four next season. The efforts this season have to be used as a benchmark that you try to improve on. Watkins had a season to remember personally and hopefully the team can celebrate some silverware with a victory against Roma. Good luck!
Scott: A huge success, always gutting to miss out on something like Champions League so narrowly but we continue to work hard and hope our efforts get us to where we want to be!

Europa Conference Final

It was time for the mighty Villains to kit up in the classic Claret and Blue, make their way down the tunnel and turn out for one last game of the 2020/21 season. With silverware on the line, it was a poetic way for the club to end what had already been a fantastic season.

With a Semi final already to their name and Europa League qualification secured on the final day of the season, could Aston Villa win their first trophy since the 1996 League Cup Semi Final? A huge 26 year barren spell.

Roma were also arriving in high spirits. Having finished third in the Serie A they'd confirmed their place in the Champions League. A rarity these days for the Italian capital.

The teams kicked off under the lights of the Stade Roi Baudoin and it was time for a 90 minute scrap. These Italians have their ways and Mac Ferguson would not be taking anything for granted. He knew just what he was up against.

The first half ended 0-0 with nothing but a measly yellow card for Tyrone Mings to talk about. The Englishman completely wiped out Zanniolo on the edge of the box and was on his last warning. Lucky not to concede from the free kick only a corner was given thanks to a fantastic stop from Emi Martinez.

Early on in the second half Villa had begun to grab more control of the game. With nerves of the final clearly gone from the first half the ball was being knocked around much better by the English outfit and as a result they got their rewards 10 minutes in when John McGinn made himself available outside the box for Watkins.

He absolutely smashed it hard and low into the keepers bottom left corner, a wonderful goal befitting of the occasion.

Villa were completely in control now and it took just another 10 minutes to double their lead. Jack Grealish on the left darting past the Roma right back managed to swing in a beautiful cross with his weak foot and Marcus Edwards was on hand to pick up the plaudits for what would eventually be known as the winning goal in the first ever European Conference Final.

Roma of course got one back in the 90th minute but for them the dye was cast. Just runners up this year. Aston Villa were leaving Belgium with their first trophy in 26 years and what a way to win it. The celebrations would go long into the night, although Ferguson refusing to show much emotion to the cameras had already set his sights on loftier goals.

"It's been a wonderful night, an even better game of football. We had control most of the second half and for the we got our rewards. Bit nervy in the first half but what do you expect from a team of players who've never played in a final before.

Yeah, course I'm happy. History is made tonight but we're only just getting started here. We've been a couple points off Champions league football this and that's where we want to be. We've got Europa league this coming season and yes that is fantastic. We'll be going in with the ambition of winning that trophy too but the Champions League is where this group of players needs and deserves to be so mark my words, we'll see you there very soon."

Congratulations mate!

Transfer Round Up - 2022/23

After an amazing season in the claret and blue, I was given a £53M transfer budget to utilise in the summer window. I knew exactly where I wanted to improve the team, it was just a matter of player availability. I have to say if you want to compete consistently at the top, 50M these days is enough for just about 1 good marquee signing and in the future the financial aspect of the club will need to improve.

I always like the idea of competing on a shoe string budget but sadly in the Premier League this is not as easy a feat as it might be in say, the Serie A.

With Marcus Edwards coming in January for around 25M we'd almost partially ruined the finances for the foreseeable future. Any transfers made this summer would more than likely see us in the red. We need to get this right so we can compete and earn this cash back at the end of this season.


- Wesley Fofana - 1 Year loan, 50M Option to buy
- Marcelo Pitaluga - 1 Year Loan
- Ilaix Moriba - Free, End of contract
- Max Aarons - £31M

So we haven't done too much this summer. We don't really have the facilities for it anyway but we're in keeping with the challenge rules (signing no more than 10 players a season) and I think we may have done just enough to keep us competing for Europe.

Wesley Fofana is an obvious transfer. There weren't many centre backs available at the quality I wanted but I saw Fofana was available from loan so I in he comes. I tried to get a low fee on an option to buy clause too but they would accept no less than 50M. Unlikely we pay that but it depends how he performs between now and the end of the season.

Not much to say about Pitaluga, we lost Tom Heaton as our back up as he retired and we needed a back up. With no money to waste on a second fiddle keeper we decided to loan in a young one until we have the funds to sort a more permanent option.

Ilaix Moriba is my favourite signing this season. We got him for free from Barcelona. Aaron Ramsey was often playing in place of Szoboszlai who started so much last season in the end he was so run down. Ilaix's class is clear for all to see and some might even say he's better than Dominik but he'll have to prove that.

This transfer was an absolute no brainer.

Max Aarons was the most expensive signing of the summer. His 31M release clause was activated by us as we had so many teams coming in for Guilbert. In the end Guilbert rejected every contract offer thrown his way but still I decided to bring Aarons in.

We need an improvement in defence and I think he's much better than Guilbert. Another one of those 'elite' level players I spoke about in the last summer roundup.

Aarons will start for us on the right along with Mings, Konsa and Kurzawa to begin with. We'll see how Mings does this season but any more of the same as last season and Wesley Fofana will be our starter in place of him.

August - The Brick Wall

Aston Villa 6-0 West Ham | Premier League | Davis, McGinn, Szoboszlai, Mousset x3
Birmingham 2-2 Aston Villa | Premier League | Grealish, Mings
Aston Villa 1-0 Bournemouth | Premier League | Grealish
Aston Villa 1-0 Burnley | Premier League | McBurnie
Arsenal 2-0 Aston Villa | Premier League | N/A

An absolutely blistering start to the season with a whopping 6-0 victory at Villa Park against the increasingly mid table Hammers! Before the game we were dealt with the news of injuries to Wesley, McBurnie, Watkins AND Mousset.

Luckily Mousset was back just in time but we were nearly without all our strikers so we had to call up Keinan Davis for the target man role in place of Wesley. He took his chance and got his goal making the final score 6-0. Overall a wonderful victory. I already know we're capable of scoring goals though and what pleased me is the fantastic performance of the back 4. Nothing got past them.

A disappointing way to drop points was certainly a 2-2 at Birmingham. Just promoted we really thought we could get 6 from 6 here but they took us by surprise and gave us a lot better than we expected taking the lead twice in this one. We had to rely on our captain and vice captain to dig us out of a hole here and thank god they did.

Two 1-0 wins at Villa Park next and that makes it a 100% clean sheet record for the month. That's 50% of the clean sheet total we kept last season in the first FIVE games. We've had a considerable improvement in defence and funnily enough the only difference is Max Aarons.

Wesley Fofana has had a 6 week injury and will be back just in time for the Leicester game which typically he's ineligible for. Mings and Konsa have been rock solid and it's going to be tough for Fofana to push his way in and prove himself. I don't know what's changed but the difference between last season and now is considerable for Tyrone Mings. Good to see.

We ended on a low losing 2-0 to Arsenal. Not the worst result in the world as we expect to lose here and there of course but we didn't even challenge the Gunners which was the most disappointing thing. It really should have been a lot more. Thanks to Emi between the sticks it wasn't.

A great start I think. If I remember correctly it's not quite as good a start as last season but once again we're thinking about context here. A couple of games next month including Man City and we should start to get a structured view of the Premier League table and where things are headed.

In the Europa League we travel to France and Russia for games against Spartak Moscow and Lyon.

September - Win, Win, Win

Aston Villa 2-1 Preston North End | EFL Cup Third Round | Moriba, Watkins
Aston Villa 5-1 Leicester | Premier League | Konsa, Szoboszlai, Edwards, Wesley x2
Aston Villa 4-2 Lyon | Europa League Group G | Mousset, Wesley, Edwards. Dubois (OG)
Wolves 0-1 Aston Villa | Premier League | Konsa
Spartak Moscow 3-5 Aston Villa | Europa League Group G | Mousset x2, Grealish x2, McBurnie
Aston Villa 4-2 Manchester City | Premier League | Wesley, Mousset x3
Belenenses SAD 2-4 Aston Villa | Europa League Group G | Watkins x4

With the 2022 World Cup on the horizon, things were about to get busy. We had our first 3 Europa league games quite unusually in just one month. With three massive wins in every game we had all but confirmed our place in the round of 32 already which for squad rotation purposes would turn out to work fantastically in our remaining 3 games.

We started off the month as meant to carry on. Progressing in the league cup via Preston in another showing of robust team mentality. We had absolutely run Preston ragged all game but they had been 1-0 up for a while and having already missed a penalty it was looking like we'd be crashing out.

Step up Ilaix Moriba. The new signing came off the bench for Szoboszlai and finally made one of the many shots we'd had count. A lovely curling effort into the top right corner would set up Watkins for another winning goal as is routine for the striker these days. We pulled Brighton from the pot a day later.

Our Premier League form was absolutely scintillating. 10 goals in 3 games. We were looking like potential title challengers already. Especially after beating Man City in a huge meeting at Villa Park. Lets dissect that one.

On paper, City don't seem to have too many weakness'. The only acception? Joao Cancelo. The Spaniards concentration I had noticed in recent games was City's downfall in defence. We had to make the most of this weakness though as the Citizens were yet to concede more than 1 goal in a game this season.

We opted against our usual style of play, playing out of defence and patiently waiting for an opportunity. Instead we were smashing it forward to a speedy Lys Mousset and shooting on sight. Pep's men had done very well at keeping shots from happening inside their box so I knew we'd have little effect on that front, hence the changes.

Due to this change up we absolutely battered them despite going 1-0 down. We drew level and Wesley scored a lovely penalty thanks to a foul on Kurzawa inside the box. Mousset scored 2 more goals taking our tally to 4 and his own to 3. A man of the match performance in a game that would live long in the memory.

How important would this result turn out to be?

A 100% win record in all competitions throws us all the way up to 3rd in the league along with the big boys and our Europa League Group is looking very much so in our favour of qualification. Time to get that job done and focus on the League until the November/December break.

October - An Enemy Emerges

Sheffield United 0-2 Aston Villa | Premier League | Mousset, Moriba
Brighton p0-0 Aston Villa | EFL Cup Fourth Round | N/A
Aston Villa 5-2 Crystal Palace | Premier League | Edwards, Grealish, McGinn, Mousset x2
Aston Villa 3-2 Belenenses | Europa League Group G | McBurnie, Trezeguet, Guilbert
Aston Villa 2-1 Wolves | Premier League | Szoboszlai, Mousset
Lyon 2-1 Aston Villa | Europa League Group G | Fofana
Aston Villa 2-1 Sheffield United | Premier League | McBurnie, Edwards

With everyone off to the World Cup in November, we'd soon be without club football for a good 2 months and the last thing I wanted for 2 months was the burden on my mind of how we'd be able to turn around a bad run of form. For that reason alone it was very important we kept playing the way we had been the month before. Especially in the league.

We were pretty overwhelming in Europe against Belenenses. As is normal with this Aston Villa team the score line did us no justice. Two sloppy goals conceded wouldn't be enough to stop us qualifying from group G in the Europa league.

Although, this wouldn't be confirmed until after the game against Lyon in which we lost 2-1. I'm not sure whether this was something to do with goal difference or whatever but the main thing is we're into the round of 16 (Not the round of 32 as I said before). Should really read these new rules.

We had some fairly easy matchups in the league which so far has been the contrast from last season where we played pretty much all the top 6 teams before December. I much prefer it like this though as it gives us the chance to build up a good amount of momentum and morale in preparation for some of the matches against bigger teams in the league.

That would be the case, if there wasn't a World Cup break midway through the year. Screw Qatar.

So four wins from four plus yet another victory against our rivals from Wolverhampton, we were 2nd in the league only to Liverpool. The current champions and 21 time winners of the league were showing no signs of letting up and something really special will have to be done by either us or another club to prize them away from the trophy.

Last on the agenda we crashed out of the league cup. I was fuming after this game. Chance after chance after chance and we took none of them. The game ended 0-0 and we went out on penalties. A taste of our own medicine after doing the same to Man City season.

All I have to say is I can't believe we're this high up! Champions League Football more realistic than first thought maybe?
A great start to the season! That applies to both the league and in Europe which is very pleasing. Keep it up!

December/January - The Return To Football

Aston Villa 0-0 Everton | Premier League | N/A
Aston Villa 2-0 Bristol Rovers | FA Cup Third Round | Watkins, Grealish
Chelsea 3-0 Aston Villa | Premier League | N/A
Manchester City 0-0 Aston Villa | Premier League | N/A
Burnley 0-0 Aston Villa | Premier League | N/A
Aston Villa 2-0 Arsenal | Premier League | Wesley x2
Aston Villa 3-0 Derby County | FA Cup Fourth Round | Szoboszlai, McGinn, Konsa
Southampton 0-4 Aston Villa | Premier League | McGinn, Watkins, Cork
Aston Villa 1-0 Birmingham | Premier League | Watkins
Bournemouth 0-0 Aston Villa | Premier League | N/A

As the Italy squad flew back to their homeland with a fifth World Cup in hands, the England boys would be coming home empty handed but for many of them the chance of silverware was still very much possible. We were only just coming up to January with rumours rife of signings here and there but the main focus at Aston Villa, was the Premier League.

It was a difficult time for us in all honesty. We've the huge gap in between club football the momentum we'd built up in the league had disappeared. We found ourselves having to gain it back against City, Arsenal and Chelsea within the opening 5 games of the second half of this season.

All 3 of these teams were gunning for top 4, Chelsea searching for their own way back to fight with Europe's elite. For us, this was uncharted territory and this was proven time on time again dropping points against City, Chelsea, Everton AND Burnley.

It was a horrible run of games for us and of all teams to play to get ourselves out of a bad run was Arsenal. I wasn't at all confident but somehow we made it through unscathed with 2 goals. A good win, but I was still thinking about the opportunities missed against Everton and Burnley.

How costly would those games prove to be?

Elsewhere we made our return to the FA Cup against Derby County who's manager was showing signs of over confidence in his side coming into the game. I told the team to make sure his feelings were far misplaced, and that seemed to be all I needed to say.

We won 3-0 on the night at Villa Park and waiting for us in the next round was a return for Norwich. We were getting all the luck in the world in these cup draws. Can we translate that into routine wins? We need to start doing so.

Back to third in the league and it seems like everyone somehow has a game in hand on us so we've that to contend with now too. Lets pic up the form in February!

We did also make a few signings in January. With the likes of Oli McBurnie, Guilbert, Miazga and Trezeguet and Aaron Ramsey leaving the club for around 70-80M combined we were able to sign a couple of players to bolster the quality of the team.

Here they are.


Jordan Ross - £5M
Edmond Tapsoba - £22.5M
Yan Valery £3.3M

Ross comes in as some young blood to replace Oli McBurnie. The centre forward wanted to leave due to a lack of playing time behind Wesley so 30M was enough for Leeds to prize him away. Ross comes from Rangers and looks like a very exciting talent.

With the money in the bank I thought why not go and get that centre back we've really needed for quite some time? I cant justify spending 50M on fofana in the summer so I'm not going to. We get a better player for half the price in Tapsoba.

Valery comes in for almost 27M pounds less than Guilbert was sold for, and has good quality for a back up to Max Aarons. I'm really happy with this transfer.

February - What. The. Fuck.

West Ham 1-0 Aston Villa | Premier League | N/A
Aston Villa 1-0 Newcastle | Premier League | Wesley
Liverpool 2-0 Aston Villa | Premier League | N/A
Brighton 2-1 Aston Villa | Premier League | Mings
Aston Villa 0-0 Tottenham | Premier League | N/A
Aston Villa 0-1e Norwich | Premier League | N/A
Aston Villa 2-3 Fulham | Premier League | Watkins, Cork

Well...What can I say really? I've got absolutely no explanation for this whatsoever. None. We had a bit of a blip in January but I'd thought that's all it was. This was supposed to be a run of games in which we should be making the most out of and putting points all over the board. Far from it.

The only thing I can guess as to what's gone wrong is team cohesion due to in and outgoings but...3 in 3 out?? I refuse to believe that three players who didn't even really play for the first team have had this much of an effect on my team upon their departure. I also refuse to believe that the new signings played any part in this given the fact they've barely played.

Even Tapsoba has been playing second fiddle to Mings this month who has largely been fantastic this season.

Until now.

We can't hit a cows arse with a banjo at the moment. I can safely tell you now in all of these games with the exception of Liverpool and Brighton - We absolutely dominated everyone. Especially Tottenham. Something has gone wrong and I'm not sure what. It could be fatigue although we've played a month of football!! That's nothing! Barely any of my players went to the World Cup!!

We've got Atalanta next month in the Europa league Round of 16. I'm holding little hope of going through while we're playing like this. I had really held out hopes of going far in this competition and possibly winning it. I can't see a path forward right now.

We need to buck our ideas up FAST. If we don't...This season out of no where is going to end up being disastrous. It's gotten so bad we've even been knocked out of the FA Cup at home, in extra time against Norwich. Literally no words for how bad we've been.

We've dropped out of the top 4 for the first time since September. If this carries on, I've no hope we'll be in the Champions League next year. We move on.

March - Better...I Guess

Aston Villa 2-0 Atalanta | Europa League 2nd Knockout Round | Moriba, Konsa
Aston Villa 5-3 Southampton | Premier League | Wesley, McGinn, Moriba, Grealish x2
Manchester United 2-5 Aston Villa | Premier League | Wesley, Mousset
Everton 1-2 Aston Villa | Premier League | Wesley, Mousset

Things have been better this month, albeit a shorter one due to the international break coming in right at the end. Really to make back up the ground we'd lost on top 4 we had to win all of our games this month but unfortunately we took yet another hit to Man United who I'm still yet to beat in this save.

The mancs seem to have about 50 games in hand which goes down even worse for us now. I'd be a bit more lenient on saying we needed to win all of this month's games but we play United again in the league in 3 games time and Chelsea 1 game before that. In between now and then...Everton.

This fixture list is fucked. Anyone else having this issue?

The one upside to March though - We made it into the Europa League final!! I completely forgot to even check this fixture and went into it completely assuming that there would be a second leg. How wrong was I? Thank fully we went in with a full strength side and made like work of the Italians. Not the force they were at the World cup eh?

We were drawn yet more Italians in the quarters, AC Milan the team we'd play and yes this time it would be over 2 legs. I'm more confident over 2 legs, but AC Have a great team now and we'll have to be at our best to beat them.

Our youth intake wasn't much to shout about but we have a few players from the first intake of the save that have developed really nicely and one of them will even be making a push into the first team next season. You'll be seeing him very soon I am sure of that!

I feel like although we haven't had the poorest month of all, it's just getting worse and worse on the league table. If Arsenal win that game in hand we might just be dead and buried.

April - They Think It's All Over, It Is Now

Aston Villa 1-3 Chelsea | Premier League | Edwards
AC Milan 1-0 Aston Villa | Europa League Quarter Final | N/A
Aston Villa 2-2 Manchester United | Premier League | Szoboszlai, McGinn
Aston Villa 1-1 AC Milan | Europa League Quarter Final | Wesley
Crystal Palace 1-0 Aston Villa | Premier League | N/A
Newcastle 2-2 Aston Villa | Premier League | Watkis, Edwards
Aston Villa 3-1 Brighton | Premier League | Mousset x3

Manchester United were hot on our heels and having already beaten us a game or two earlier it was looking likely that now was their time to pounce and leapfrog us into 5th and potentially even 4th. SOmehow, by gods grace we were able to hold the Red Devil's to a 2-2 draw but thanks to a 3-1 loss at Stamford Bridge it was at this moment that I had lost all hope.

Forgetting the domestic competition for a moment we made our way to Italy for a game of football against the Rossoneri in what would be this clubs biggest game in modern footballing history.

Losing out slightly to a tight 1-0er we left the country and headed back to Birmingham with our heads held high. We expected a tough game and got one. The main thing was we held them back just enough so we could give them a good old fashioned scrap at Villa Park. This tie wasn't over.

The European Giants came to England swinging their pedigree a round their heads like a giant cock in a locker room. I've no doubt the lads were feeling the occasion as the Milan fans turned up in the streets in full force. Not even to enter the stadium most of them but to swarm the streets and make themselves known.

They were here to takeover and whilst on aggregate they may have done just that, we refused to be beaten. 1-1 the full time score, Wesley with a fantastically worked effort on goal after some brilliant build up play.

We were out of Europe and our season was all but over. We had one job left. Secure Europa League.

I'd be damned if I was playing in the Conference again.

After a sloppy two results at Newcastle and Palace we welcomed Brighton who had pushed us ALL season. Thank god for it too, because if it wasn't for them maybe we wouldn't have put in the effort we had so far. On the night we needed to win. Fulham, Liverpool and Spurs were next and failure was not an option.

We absolutely steamed rolled them 3-1 in a showing of great mentality. It's just a shame we couldn't do it sooner.

That's it, the CL hopes for this season are over and I am extremely disappointed. A blip in results is always welcomed and expected. Sometimes a dip in form can improve the squad mentality wise. But something the likes of what we saw in February and the end of this month...It's simply not good enough. Not for the team we possess.

We'd better pray to the stars we can make Europa League.

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