xV: Relegation doesn’t have to be Aston Villa’s worst-case scenario

Welcome to Expected Villa (xV), an ostensibly numbers-based column about Aston Villa! The Claret and Blues cut four adrift with just four to play, and they’re 1–9 to survive. Relegation is feeling like a bit of an inevitability. So we’ll talk about it.

Let’s start with a take: If you asked me to draw up the best-case scenario for Aston Villa over the next five seasons, I’d tell you I’d rather go down than stay up.

There is a concept in American team sports that sticks in my mind right now: “rebuilding” (or its more aggressive sibling, “tanking”). The idea is probably not foreign, but is largely specific to closed systems like we have in the States — if the current squad isn’t good enough for success, the team needs to prioritize playing and developing young players over winning in the short term. In the “tanking” approach, you’re able to acquire better young talent by first losing and receiving a higher draft pick. It’s a trade of short-term success for long-term gains.

Of course, between the penalty relegation imposes and the lack of a draft, there isn’t a great parallel to this phenomenon in football. Plenty of noteworthy clubs who face the drop often take a generation to come back (Leeds United finally look to be headed back to the top flight after 16 years), and generally speaking, the worse a team is, the worse its signings. In football — and particularly in a pyramid like England’s — doing anything that prioritizes long-term gains over short-term success is incredibly risky.

That’s what gives me a bit of hesitation about this tweet:


By: Alexander Carson
Title: xV: Relegation doesn’t have to be Aston Villa’s worst-case scenario
Sourced From: 7500toholte.sbnation.com/2020/7/10/21319340/expected-villa-relegation-championship-opportunity-worst-case-scenario
Published Date: Fri, 10 Jul 2020 08:00:00 +0000