Former high-profile Premier League striker, Dean Saunders, claims that Aston Villa are one of the biggest clubs in the United Kingdom.
Villa were relegated from the Premier League last season, and are plying their trade in the Championship at the moment. However, despite their fall from grace, Saunders has no doubt the club’s standing in the English game.
Saunders, who played for Aston Villa, Liverpool, and Nottingham Forest in the 90’s, admitted that Villa’s relegation was always on the cards, and he cites the failure to replace key players as the main reason behind the club’s downfall.
He goes to add that in terms of the size, fan base and magnitude of the club, Villa is bigger than Chelsea, Manchester City and Tottenham.
Saunders said, while speaking to BBC:
Villa are one of the biggest clubs in the country – if it were down to size they would be in the top six in the Premier League.
That’s what their fans expect, and that is what I would expect from them too. When you think of Villa, with their magnificent support, you should be thinking of a team full of top international players that everyone knows about, pushing for trophies. They are a million miles away from that at the moment.
Villa are bigger than Chelsea, Manchester City, Tottenham and Everton.
Compare them to Tottenham, who were trying to break into the Champions League at the same time as O’Neill was in charge, or Everton, who are trying to do it now – there is no difference in the size of those clubs. Villa are actually bigger than both of them.
The difference is the way they have been run. That is the reason Villa have gone in the opposite direction.
So instead of doing a Spurs, they have done a Sunderland – they were hanging on and just avoiding relegation for the past four or five years, but it was inevitable it was going to happen.
The Villans are struggling in the Championship (15th in the league) this season, but the fans are finally starting to see hopes of recovery under Steve Bruce. The main aim will be to finish the season on a high ahead of the anticipated promotion tilt next year.
Villa were flying high in the Premier League under Martin O’Neill, but struggled badly since he left the club in 2010. Saunders believes that the departure of key players like Gareth Barry, James Milner, and Ashley Young have hurt the club badly. The most important thing is Villa never replaced them properly, and they are paying the price for it.