Villa survive another week after Norwich lose as well

LONDON • Despite their 2-1 defeat by Bournemouth yesterday, Aston Villa lived to fight another day after 17th-placed Norwich City also lost, going down 0-1 at Crystal Palace.

Steve Cook scored deep into stoppage time at the end of the first half and Joshua King netted the second for Bournemouth in the 75th minute. Jordan Ayew pulled one back for Villa 10 minutes later.

Villa are now safe for another week, but it would be no surprise if they are demoted to the Championship, which would end their ever-present membership of the Premier League.

Three wins from 33 league matches, 23 goals scored, 64 conceded and two managers sacked barely does justice to a season of ceaseless gloom at Villa Park, a magnificent old stadium that has hosted top-flight football for the past 28 years.

The club's impending relegation means only Arsenal, Chelsea, Everton, Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur will be able to boast ever-present Premier League status next season.

And the current malaise on and off the pitch hardly bodes well for Villa rejoining the elite at the first opportunity.

Eric Black had been handed the managerial reins after Remi Garde was sacked last month following five fruitless months in charge. He had the unenviable task of trying to salvage some Villa pride with a squad who appear to have thrown in the towel.

"Last week was difficult because of the turmoil with the manager leaving," Black told a news conference on Friday. "The potential of relegation didn't come about yesterday, it's been going on for a while."

Disillusioned with the club's steady decline under the ownership of American businessman Randy Lerner, fans held up placards saying "Proud history, what future?" during last week's 4-0 drubbing by Chelsea.

Lerner has been trying to sell the club since 2014 but dropping out of the English top flight will hardly attract buyers and new chairman Steve Hollis' immediate task will be to try and move out high-earning players ill-equipped for next year's Championship dogfight.

There is also the question of whether Black will be allowed to rebuild Villa.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 10, 2016, with the headline 'Villa survive another week after Norwich lose as well'. Print Edition | Subscribe