Reviving sleeping giants (chapter 2): Aston Villa

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December 2023: more clean sheets!

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Two red cards in the game and unfortunately for us, we received one of them. That was enough to see us give up a 1-0 lead in 30 minutes as we conceded right after scoring and in the 50th minute. This is our first defeat of the season in what has been a really good year so far so even though I can't say I'm not disappointed, I'm also pretty happy that it's our only defeat of the season so far in the league!

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And that does it for the Champions League group stages! It ended up being a much easier campaign than I anticipated to be honest, but I'm really happy with how it went. A win and a draw against Real Madrid and a perfect run against our other two opponents means we finish top of the group and will await one of the second placed teams in the next round. This could be either: Atlético, Inter, Juventus, Olympique Lyonnais, Leverkusen, Barcelona, or Milan. Let's just say pretty much none of these teams would be easy to beat but there's clearly an odd one out.

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Another clean sheet leaves us alone at the top of the league. Marco Asensio and Will Hughes pull out world-class performances to assure me that they deserve their places in the team and shouldn't ever be rotated like the rest of the team. If we can keep this up, we could seriously be favourites to win the title at the end of the season!

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Isak's really good form and Barcelona's reported interest in him earns him a new contract. He was on £110,000 a week previously, so it's a big wage increase but he absolutely deserves it for the work he puts in for this team. He's gotten a few injuries since his arrival but every time he came back stronger and scored really important goals, so I'm delighted to have him at the club for another 5 years.

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Our Carabao Cup exit to Brentford was, to say the least, embarrassing. I definitely jinxed it by saying that we hadn't lose in 4 meetings against them and whilst the media will be trying to do the same for this match, the FA Cup actually matters to the board and we can't be disappointing in the competition like we were last season.

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It's Will's turn to get a new contract after some incredible performances last month and some more good ones this month as well. Will has truly been one of the best signings I've ever made in any story and it's great to see him keep performing week in week out. He's already 28 so as a defensive midfielder is absolutely in his prime and I hope that he'll stay there for the next 3, 4 maybe even 5 years of his career!

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Our great defensive work is finally getting rewarded with some more clean sheets in the league! Isak's only goal in the 62nd minute was enough to secure us another win in the Premier League and continue our journey at the top of the league.

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It'll be Lyon who we face in the 1st knockout round of the Champions League! While I want to say that we couldn't have had a better draw, Lyon are a great side. If you remember, we beat them in the 2nd knockout round in the Europa League last season on our way to the title and it was by no means an easy tie. We beat them 4-1 in the first leg but they gave us a bit of a scare in the second leg by winning 1-0. I'm excited for this game, especially since we'll be playing away from home first and that's always brought us luck.

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Well, I said at the end of last month that Tottenham and West Ham would be our toughest games in December and I was right! Despite Dimitriu's equaliser late in the first half, it wasn't enough as we conceded in the 67th minute to lose 2-1 to West Ham and really harm our chances of finishing the first half of the season as Premier League leaders. Manchester United could definitely mess up though, and with them being away in Japan for the FIFA Club World Cup, they'll have to come back knowing they'll need results to catch up to us.

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Wolves was another team I was slightly worried about going into this game but what was I thinking?! Asensio's addition to the team has proven to be an incredible one as he scored a brace to give us a 4-0 win against the side who got promoted to the Premier League in the same year as us. It's a great way to win on Boxing Day and now I just can't wait for our last game of 2023 against Stoke, who are 17th right now.

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Our 10th clean sheet in 18 games and another goal from Isak plus another man of the match performance from Asensio see us finish 2023 on a perfect note. December was a really good month overall apart from the two defeats against Tottenham and West Ham, and I'm so happy that we finished this way to fully prepare for our next Premier League game on the 1st of January against Manchester United.

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Things are looking great just about halfway through the season. United have two games in hand, but even winning those 2 games would put them 3 points away from us in the league so things are definitely looking good so far! Our goal difference is the best in the league right now and that's certainly been helped by our 11 goals conceded in 18 games. We have the 3rd best attack in the league as well which obviously helped too.

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As always, January is a very busy month for us but this time around, it'll be even tougher than usual. Manchester United and Chelsea are our two biggest home games of the month, whilst we'll also have to face Arsenal and Manchester City in the same month! If we come out of January with maximum points or close to that, it'll definitely feel like a huge step towards the Premier League title.

Villan of the Month:
View attachment 43793#7 Marco Asensio
27 years old
Left winger/centre attacking midfielder

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After half a season at the club, Asensio finally gets his first Villan of the Month award! It doesn't really mean much to be honest, but I'm still glad to see him being recognised by the fans as the club's best player over the month. He did have his worst game for the club yet against Tottenham but more than made up for that with huge performances for the rest of the month. He'll definitely be one of our key players for the next few years if he ages well!
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January 2024: the hard work begins now

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How about that?! Pickford didn't have the most amazing season last year due to injuries, or at least so I thought! He wins the Goalkeeper of the Year awarded by FIFA ahead of ter Stegen and Rajkovic, who both had great seasons for their clubs. Jordan is getting into his prime now and with just over 150 games played for the club, he's been an integral part of this new-look Villa side.

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We get the Goalkeeper of the Year in the FIFA Team of the Year (obviously) but that's it. Messi is still in there, incredibly enough, and Bonucci as well! He's 36 but still clearly playing incredibly well. Interesting to see Lemar at PSG, Lindelöf at Barcelona and Salah at Atlético!

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We start off 2024 well with a draw against United. We won at Old Trafford earlier this season so to deny them a win at Villa Park is fantastic. We played in front of a packed stadium as well. I'm thinking of asking the board to either expand the stadium or building a new one now to be honest, because we're constantly playing in front of a packed crowd and a big city like Birmingham needs a bigger stadium!

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Another good result away from home. Dumitriu hasn't started that many games this season but every time he has, he's always performed so I'm happy to see him play this way. Joe Gomez is also turning out to be the bargain of the century as we bought him for £5.5 million and he's now worth over £50 million!

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What a game! Reminiscent of that Arsenal 7-5 Reading game in the Carabao Cup back in the 2012/13 season! They went a goal up in the first minute, only for us to equalise 4 minutes later and go 2-1 up just 3 minutes after that! Then we went 3-1 up, they came back 3-2 straight away and Isak scored another goal to make it 4-2, then 5-2! We then scored an own goal to make it 5-3 but Isak scored his 5th of the game and of the half to make it 6-3 before half-time. We didn't score in the second half and they could only score one but what a crazy game this was! Once again, the stadium was fully sold out so that was amazing to see. We'll be playing Leicester in the next round of the FA Cup, competition that we're expected to reach the semi-finals of so let's hope that ridiculous performance wasn't for nothing and we'll get there or maybe even further!

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Kasey played a total of 77 league games in 4 years at the club and after signing him for £5 million, we'll miss him for sure. He wanted playing time though, and I just couldn't justify playing him over Dele Alli or Marco Asensio so he had to go. This does mean we're one attacking midfielder short in terms of our backup though, and I've spotted a young player who could definitely do a job coming off the bench.

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A disappointing game away from home as we couldn't find the back of the net despite our 15 shots on goal in the 90 minutes. Kane's 18th minute strike was enough for the Cityzens to win the game 1-0 and see us lose out on at least 2 points and lose some of our lead at the top of the league.

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A HUGE win in our title race as this was one of the big games of the month. Away from home too, which is always satisfying. Hughes has been playing out of his skin for the last month now and is definitely in the running for another Villan of the Month award!

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Steven's been playing a lot more often recently and has absolutely not disappointed. He was on £19,000 a week since his arrival back when we got promoted to the Premier League 5 and a half years ago now and it was about time he got a little wage increase to reward him for his patience, and now quality.

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Angel Gomes from Manchester United is the man I've chosen to replace Palmer, who left for Watford earlier this month. He's only 23 years old so absolutely can do a job for the club now and in the future, and he's got plenty of potential as well so he should be a great signing for just £6 million.

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A good win at home in front of yet another packed stadium! Isak and Asensio were the star men once again as we put 3 past Bournemouth to win the game 3-0. A really good way to prepare for the Chelsea game, our last of the month.

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I'll absolutely take a draw against such a strong Chelsea side. We responded perfectly to their opener after 15 minutes by scoring not even a minute later, and the rest of the game played out quite well for us. A 3-3 draw isn't the best for our defence, but a point against Guardiola's side is more than good enough for us to end the month on.

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After 24 games, everything is still looking good in the Premier League. Chelsea have a game in hand but would be 2 points behind if they won their game, whilst United have 3 GAMES in hand but would be a point behind even if they won all 3 of those games. Fair to say that as of right now, it's still all to play for and the next few months and games in the FA Cup and Champions League isn't going to make this title race any less stressful.

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We start the month off with an FA Cup game and end it with a Champions League game. Both are away from home, and both will be very tough. I'm expecting a lot from Lyon and I think they'll want this as much or maybe even more than we will; we need to want it more though, we didn't even make it out of the group stages last year so we need to get further this season, especially with all the big players we have in the side. Fulham and Leicester in the league should be interesting, as we always struggle against Fulham and the Leicester game will be directly after our FA Cup tie so will be revenge for one of the teams. As for the Liverpool match, it's at home and we always do well against the big teams at home so I'm expecting a win there.

Villan of the Month:
View attachment 43713#7 Marco Asensio
28 years old
Left winger/central attacking midfielder

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With 6 assists and 3 goals in 7 games, Marco absolutely deserves his second Villan of the Month in a row. Isak was a strong contender for it as well with 5 goals against Bristol but Asensio just had a more consistent month overall and has been fantastic in the last 2 months. He had a slow start to the season but is finally showing why we paid a staggering £70 million for him.
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February 2024: a tight affair

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First news of the month weren't good ones, as Will injured himself in training and will be out for basically the whole month. There's a chance he'll be able to play before the end of the month but I don't think I want to risk that.

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With almost £300 million spent, this was another big window for English football which saw a couple of big arrivals in Ascacibar, Sabitzer and Gumny. Not an eventful window for us at all as we saw one departure and one arrival in Palmer going to Watford and Gomes coming in from Manchester United.

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Dumitriu doesn't start many games, as I keep saying, but he still does a great job every month! Another young player of the month goes to him as our great run of form continues.

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And we're off to the 5th round! It's unsure whether we'll be playing Stoke or Barnsley as of right now but this fantastic win away against Leicester puts us through. Dele scored twice and could've had a hat-trick if it wasn't for his penalty miss in the 24th minute. Things really seem to be going our way right now.

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Well, I guess their solution to Dele causing them problems in the last game between us was to injure him in the 52nd minute... It's incredibly annoying, as we really need all our best players right now to get the best possible results. Unfortunately for Leicester, we might a pretty good signing in the summer called Asensio who ended up scoring the winner in the 63rd minute. Phew, another 3 points for our title race!

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This season is turning out to be even better than I thought! If we weren't title challengers earlier this season, we certainly are now! A huge win against one of the better teams in the league with Guedes scoring one of the goals and Abouchabaka playing the super-sub has given us a great deal of momentum and I certainly hope we can carry that with us in the next few games.

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It seems that the Fulham effect no longer affects us! We struggled for so long against them, every single season, but not this season! A 2-1 win away in London sees us come away with 3 points, AGAIN, as Isak scored a brace: his 25th and 26th goals of the season in 33 games.

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Definitely not the result I wanted. We had a great game but just couldn't defend against Lyon's attack and it's a shame to concede 2 goals. The big positive however is that we also scored 2 goals and means we go into our home game with a big advantage, having scored those two away goals. Asensio was outstanding once again, as he has been since the start of December 2023.

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This is just ridiculous... How have we had 26 shots on goal in one game to their 0 and not scored a goal?! Credit to Stoke I guess, they defended really well but this is just a terrible result. On top of that, it's adding another game to our already packed schedule so I hope that the rotated team I'll field against Stoke for the replay will do the job.

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After 27 games, we have 11 to go. We're just a point clear of Manchester United which means it absolutely won't be an easy end to the season. They've got a better goal difference as well so we need to get results. I don't know if this reminds you of anything though, but this is an awfully similar scenario to the one we had back in 2021/2022 when we won the league, so let's hope the outcome will be the same this year!

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This Stoke match is just a huge burden at this point, but at least the rotated team I want to play in the game will be at home and have the support of the fans to get to the next round! We have our next Champions League game against Lyon as well of course, which will be crucial as I promised a couple of players who wanted to leave that we'd get to the latter stages of the Champions League and these lads consider that the quarter-final at least. As for our Premier League games, we need results if we're to stay in the title race.

Villan of the Month:
View attachment 43641#7 Marco Asensio
28 years old
Left winger/central attacking midfielder

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I don't know if Guedes managed this in his first season as well but this looks like a first to me! A Villan of the Month award for 3 months in a row! To be fair, Marco has been outstanding and it's nothing short of what I, the board, and the fans expected. We will desperately need him in the next few games and given the way he's been playing, I'm sure he'll deliver again then!
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March 2024: chance for a treble?

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The absolute perfect way to start off a stressful month! Isak is slowly turning out to be one of the best signings ever made by this club as he scores 5 goals in one game for the second time this season. This also saw him jump to the 2nd top goalscorer in the league as a result and he broke the record for most goals scored in a game by a Villa player EVER.

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After a more than disappointing first game against Stoke, it was good to see the team rally up for the replay and win 3-0 in an equally as dominant performance. We'll be facing Newcastle in the FA Cup quarter-final, who are 5th in the league. They've obviously done a great job in most of the competitions they've played in so far so it'll be interesting to see how we do against them.

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Another good result at home in front of a packed Villa Park gives us 3 points, which is just enough to stay top of the league. Hughes scored the opener just before half time right after missing his penalty, which was nice to see despite the penalty miss. Cook was also excellent, which shows the quality of our depth in midfield with Hughes, Cook, Barella and Ross as our top 4 defensive midfielders.

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Guedes and Barella were the two players who were scouted by bigger teams last summer and who wanted moves. I promised them to get to at least the Champions League quarter-finals and we've done that now! This should mean they'll be willing to stay with us for at least another season. A great win at home against Lyon is definitely a huge positive, especially considering how well they played at their own ground. And would you look at that, our Champions League quarter-final tie will be against Manchester United, the very team who we're up against in our Premier League title race! This should be interesting...

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I talked about the title race after our Champions League game, and this just isn't the way to keep up with United now is it! Swansea are bottom of the league so it's fair to say that I'm incredibly annoyed at that result. Nevertheless, yelling at the players about it now won't do much for us so I just hope they'll learn their lesson and I hope that, just like last year for Champions League football, it won't be a game in March/April that'll cost us a huge achievement for the club.

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Now that's more like it. This puts us back on top in the Premier League but, obviously, United have a game in hand. Tierney is and has been one of our star players so to lose him for the next month is heartbreaking, but at least our youngster Max Morris will get some playing time. A big win against Burnley to put us in a great place in the league.

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We're in the FA Cup semi-final! I can't remember the last time we did so well in the FA Cup to be honest, it feels like ages ago but we're there now and that's what matters. We beat Newcastle 3-1 so quite convincingly and will play Norwich in the next round. How they're in the semi-final, don't ask me but they're there for a reason. The other tie is Liverpool against City so clearly we got the better end of the draw there but we can't be complacent and we'll have to work hard to go through to the final and have a chance to win the whole thing.

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This is obviously going to be a very, very close end to the season. United do have a game in hand but we'd be level on points if they won, so it's anyone's game really. We should 100% finish in the top 4 as well which is great since it means we'll get Champions League football next season for sure. It's been a great season, let's hope April will make it an even better one.

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Our last game of March was against Newcastle, and our first one in April will also be against Newcastle! We'll be facing Tottenham and Watford in our other two games on top of our Champions League tie against Manchester United and the FA Cup semi-final against Norwich. This isn't going to be an easy month for sure!

Villan of the Month:
View attachment 43587#8 Gonçalo Guedes
27 years old
Right midfielder

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After the award has been ruled by Asensio for the last 3 months, it's nice to see a bit of a change! Although I guess it's not much of a change since Guedes won it so many times last month. Regardless, Gonçalo was really good this month and deserves this award with 6 assists and a goal from the right midfield position, where he now plays to accommodate Dele Alli and Marco Asensio playing higher up together.
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April 2024: the tightest title race ever?

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Harry's been a bit on and off this season, most definitely due to his age. He's been one of the best players I've signed in a long time and he's taken a huge paycut to stay at the club, but he deserves it. Josh Hope is slowly becoming better and better and will soon be the starting centre-back at the club alongside Romagnoli, with Maguire as the backup.

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We've reached our objective set by the board at the start of the season to qualify for the Champions League! It's a huge moment for the club as we guarantee ourselves more European football for next season. The board have been quite generous and given me almost £70 million to spend on players for a squad with already a lot of quality.

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I would say this is a disappointing result, but we're only 2 goals down and have 3 away goals, so we could definitely make it through to the semi-final! It'll be really tough but who knows at this point. Our defensive duties have only gotten harder though with Romagnoli out for the next 2 weeks. It's a huge shame for him but we should be able to do well without him.

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We continue to get decent results in the league as we still chase our second Premier League title in 3 years. Tottenham are a very good team so it was nice to get a victory over them, let's hope United mess up in their games in hand now.

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Well, I guess that's it for our Champions League dream! We got a goal in the 15th minute and for a while it looked like we could've gotten back into it, won the game 2-0 and made it through to the semi-final but United were just too strong defensively and we'll be going out in the quarter-finals. It's a lot better than last season of course, but I just feel really disappointed to not get closer to the Champions League trophy than we did in my very first season in the competition when we got all the way to the semi-final!

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This is going to be one **** of a title race. Chelsea and City, despite the media including them in it, are absolutely out of the race in my opinion. As of right now, I would say United are the favourites with that game in hand but they play Arsenal in their last game of the season, while we play Wolves. They also play Chelsea later on but we do play City on the 4th of May so it's definitely going to be tight.

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Well then, talk about not dropping points to put pressure on United! We just lost 2 points that we absolutely deserved against Watford as they scored a late equaliser, meaning the title race just got even tighter now! We have no time to waste though, as we now need to look ahead to our Norwich game in the FA Cup.

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How about that for FA Cup drama! We went through 90 minutes, plus extra-time only to win on penalties, just about! We'll be playing Liverpool in the final in late May in what has been a great FA Cup campaign so far. I'm really happy to have a chance at some silverware on top of the Premier League if we win it, it'll be a deserved trophy if we do win the FA Cup.

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A huge result from Reading who beat Manchester United 2-0 not only means that they're just 5 points away from safety in the league, but it also means that with a game in hand, we're level on points with United! A win in that game in hand that we have would put us 3 points clear at the top with 3 games to go which is just massive.

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Two of our last 4 games are against teams in the 3/4 of the table, below 15th. One game is against West Ham who have always been decent against us and one of them is against City, one of the best teams in the league and still in the running for the title. Sigh... this isn't going to be an easy end to the season!

Villan of the Month:
View attachment 43435#7 Marco Asensio
28 years old
Left winger

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Marco was outstanding yet again for us this month, despite a few average performances. He's definitely been the star man since his arrival last season and I can't wait for next season and the next transfer window to see if we can bring in some more world class players to this team in Birmingham.
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May 2024: the start of a new era

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The game in hand we had over United was this one, and it was a big one. Lingard helped his former side indirectly by scoring twice and earning a draw for his West Ham side, as they held us to a 3-3 draw. It does mean that we're now a point clear of United with just 3 games to go. It's going to be a tight one as we lead the title race in the last few weeks!

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We end City's title hopes as we strengthen ours with a huge win against one of the best teams in the league. Isak has really turned up in this second half of the season and he did that today as well. We really needed a star man up front and I just couldn't be happier with Alexander since he joined for £78 million a few seasons back. Losing Gonçalo for the last few games of the season is a big blow, but we have players on the bench eager to impress so hopefully they do that!

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WE'VE DONE IT!!! Our second Premier League title in 3 years puts us on the radar as one of the best English teams of the moment and puts myself in the England Hall of Fame as well! It was such a close game but it was so amazing to celebrate in front of our fans, in the rain. Just what a season it's been overall and what a team we have created here. I'm so proud of these lads and I'm also very thankful for Bournemouth, who beat United 2-1 to basically gift us the title early!

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Our last game of the season turns out a positive one with a 2-1 win away to celebrate with all our travelling fans. Dumitriu is the one who got all the love from the fans as I rested a few key players for the FA Cup final later this month. It's been a fantastic season in the Premier League this season and to end it on a high note like that is just great.

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So there is the end of the Premier League season then! We started off incredibly well and held our position in 1st from early September and just jumped between 1st and second until the final matchday. Isak and Guedes turned out to be the star men for the team along with Asensio, who doesn't feature as the player with most assists or best average rating or anything like that but I guarantee you that he was a huge part of this title victory. I'm so proud of these lads and to win the title with a 7-point gap at the top considering with 4 games left we were just a point ahead is incredibly satisfying as well.

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With 3 players in the Team of the Year, Asensio winning the Players' Player of the Year and Footballer of the Year and myself winning the Manager of the Year, it's safe to say Aston Villa had a good season! Our second Premier League title in 3 years was a huge highlight of course and was our second trophy of the season, but we now need to calm down a little bit and focus back on the upcoming FA Cup final.

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Marco Asensio you beauty!!! A brace in the FA Cup final gifts us our 3rd FA Cup in 5 years as Villa are really seeing a new spell of incredible trophy wins, just like in the late 1890s! What a huge win this was and what a season this has been, I just have no words! This team is slowly becoming one of the best in England and all that's left to do now is to become one of the best in Europe!

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I mean, the average attendance for our stadium just says it all. A packed stadium all season long, a UEFA Super Cup, Premier League and FA Cup medal, and a quarter-final exit in the Champions League. We had an incredible season, thanks to really good performances from Guedes (who had the most assists with 22, equalling Amundsen's record from 2 years ago), Isak (who scored 41 goals in all competitions, his best total since his arrival 3 years ago when he scored 36 goals) and Asensio (who was the fans' signing of the season and won multiple awards in the Premier League as well). Just what a year it has been, and what a year next season promises to be. With about £70 million in the bank, world-class players already at the club and a Premier League title to defend, we have a lot of work to do but I just can't wait for it, because I love this team and love this club and can't wait to take them back, completely, to their former glory.

ChallengeWhat is it?Completed?
Brexit (kind of) means BrexitCan only sign a maximum of 2 players not from the UK per season (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland) -UNLESS A NON-UK PLAYER IN THE TEAM IS SOLD, THEN AN ADDITIONAL SPOT FOR A NON-UK PLAYER FREES UPYes
Ah millennials...At least 5 players from the academy or U-21 must play at least 10 games each every seasonYes
The good old daysWin every trophy that Aston Villa has won in their history (lower league trophies like the Championship or League 1 can be disregarded once we make it to the Premier League)No
Carabao Cup (2020, 2021, 2023, 2 more to go)

FA Cup (2020, 2022, 2024, 4 more to go)

Premier League (2022, 2024, 5 more to go)

Europa League (2020*, 2023*)

Sky Bet Championship (2018*)

UEFA Super Cup (2020, 2023*, completed!)

Community Shield (2020, completed!)

* = not needed
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2024/25 pre-season, signings and departures

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The first bit of good news came straight after the end of last season, when I knew we got a lot of money for our Premier League win and just overall prize money. After requesting a stadium expansion to the board for so long, our 100% average attendance and a lot of prize money was now enough to convince them to expand the stadium! The capacity, at the end of this season, will be up by 6,200 which is fantastic.

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As crazy as it sounds, 15 of our players are going to the EURO 2024 this summer. Half of them are with England of course, with Dumitriu and Isak featuring for nations in the same group as England funnily enough. I'll be keeping an eye on England's performance of course, as I'm still looking to one day take over and bring success to fans of the English national team once again.

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It's good news after good news so far this summer! I signed a new contract for £50,000 a week, actually making me the 4th or 5th highest paid manager in the league somehow. I am the manager with the longest tenure at his club so far, with Burnley's manager in 2nd after about 5 years in the side. I just hope now that I'll be able to bring even more success to the club as a thank you to the board for this new contract.

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In more contract news, it's Lewis who's signed a new one now. He was a very important part of our Premier League winning side last season and I'm really glad he's signed a contract keeping him here for another 4 years. He's a very good player and it's always good to have members of the England national team in the squad as well.

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The first of 3 signings made this summer is a huge one. With about £75 million in the bank after negotiating with the board for a bigger budget, £60 million of those will taken out of the budget to sign Adilson. He's a fantastic defensive midfielder who, at just 22 years old, has played on loan for 3 season in England at Leicester and Newcastle. He's also an incredibly promising player for the future according to my scouts. On top of that, he'll provide some good depth for the team as he can also play as a centre-back so we have that going for us as well.

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No pressure for Adilson, who's not only got to live up to Isak's amazing performances so far since he broke our club transfer record but also got to live up to Ronaldo's standards, who up until now was the most expensive Portuguese player ever...

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Speaking of, who better to have in our coaching staff than the man himself! He'll bring in a lot of Champions League experience and I mean, he's Cristiano Ronaldo so while he might not be the best coach right now, he'll be absolutely fantastic to have alongside me in the coaching staff.

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A busier pre-season than the last couple of seasons with just one extra game in there. This team has been about the same for a while now and even though we ended up making just 3 signings for the pre-season, I still wanted enough games to get the whole team to gel together and really be ready for the start of the new season.

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The huge bad news about this transfer window was Gonçalo. I promised him to get to the latter stages of the Champions League, which we did, but he just wanted to be difficult about everything and decided he wanted to go back to France this summer. I transfer-listed him and offers came flying in obviously, and we had to accept the one from Monaco for £80 million. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy to get this sort of money to sign more players now and more importantly a replacement for him but I'm just really sad to see him go.

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We didn't waste any time signing a replacement for Guedes, as we jumped straight in for a Dutch talent from PSV called van der Meer. Just like Adilson, he's a player who's already got a lot of quality right now and could get even better later on. Now that he'll be our starting right midfielder as well with Farris as a backup, he should get plenty of game time to develop into an incredible player.

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More contract news as Romagnoli this time signs a new one. He's been a huge part of this club's success since his arrival on a free just 2 years ago and I'm glad to see him renew his contract for the next few years, despite him being already 29 years old and increasing his wage significantly.

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The EURO 2024 ended in the middle of our pre-season and England got the quarter-finals, where they lost against the eventual finalists Belgium. This was deemed a good enough performance by the English FA as well as they've let Southgate keep his job. I guess now I have to wait either for the end of the European International League or the World Cup in 2 years to have a chance to maybe take the national team job!

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On another note, Dumitriu claimed the best young player at the EURO 2024 tournament so that was great news! His nation of Romania got out of the groups with England but lost to the eventual winners Spain and he played really well throughout the tournament so it was great to see a Villa player do so well on an individual level on the big stage.

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Our last signing cost us £35 million up front and will cost us £60 million in the next 3 season as well. My scouts were definitely not keen on him but I saw his potential when I went to see a Manchester City pre-season game earlier in the month and he looked fantastic. He's already 22 years old so will need some playing time to fully reach his potential but I'm confident he'll get there. He was obviously a really expensive signing as well so you can be sure he'll play!

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Two more records were broken with this transfer as he becomes our new record signing and the most expensive English player ever.

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My good job with Villa is rewarded with rumours that Chelsea want me as their next manager! It's not as flattering as the United interest from last season to be honest, but it's nice to hear that such big and rich clubs want me as their manager. Although saying that, we are the Premier League champions and have just spent £130 million on the market! (Technically £225 million if you count the full amount we'll be paying for those signings but still!)

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I briefly mentioned our coaching staff earlier and well, I used last summer and this summer to absolutely raid the likes of Arsenal, United and Liverpool of their best medical staff and coaching staff. Our recruitment team isn't one of the best in the league yet but in terms of the coaching team and medical team, we have the best in the league in every category. Worthy of a Premier League champions' staff team! Oh wait... we are the Premier League champions ;)

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Nicolò got injured during a pre-season game which means he'll miss the first official game of the season at least. Very disappointing to hear as he recently passed the 200 game mark for the club and I'm sure he'll be looking to add to that in the future.

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By the way, I was looking through the club's profile and remembered reading after an interview that the media were calling me an Aston Villa legend, so I went and had a look and do you see what I'm seeing? After 7 years at the club, I'm already a club legend! Villa are a club with so much history so I'm incredibly proud of this achievement. My tenure here is nowhere near being over though and I can't wait to bring even more success to this club.

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Our Premier League preview page. Our salary per annum of £151 million is one of the highest in the league but still nowhere near the likes of City, United and Chelsea which is really good to see since we're always competing with those teams for the title! Our squad average age of 25 also means we're the youngest team in the Premier League along with Tottenham, Liverpool, Watford and Cardiff.

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Two new contracts again as they were expiring at the end of this new season. Sebastian is still just 19 and has a lot of work and potential ahead of him, while Abouchabaka is a great backup player to bring off the bench and score some last minute goals like he's done so often.

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Früchtl is certainly showing off! He's been the backup to Pickford since his arrival but has slowly shown that maybe he should be our first team keeper and an ageing Pickford should be our backup!

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Just the one player in the Olympics dream team but it's nice to see at least one Villa player in an award like that, great stuff from Christian!

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Well, there was our last game of the pre-season and what a good one it was! A 2-0 win against United, a fantastic defensive performance and some great debuts were the highlights of this Community Shield win against one of our title rivals for next season for sure.

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Wins all around in pre-season with very few goals conceded and a lot scored. It always goes that way in pre-season to be honest, but I'm hoping that we can carry this kind of form into the actual season to really mount a good Premier League title defence, not like 2 years ago when we finished 5th...

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Just the 3 games to start that title defence, although I heard that the Tottenham game might be moved by a day or two so we could be playing just the two games next month. Of course, we'll also have the Champions League group stage draw which should be interesting.

Villan of the pre-season:
View attachment 43204#13 Paul van der Meer
21 years old
Right midfielder

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With an assist on his official debut against United and 3 goals and 3 assists in 4 pre-season games, van der Meer very deservedly wins the Villan of the pre-season award. He was absolutely fantastic and I can't wait for the Premier League to start now to see how this Dutch talent will do against better opposition. He already showed he can do a good job against United, so let's see how he fares against Wolves and Cardiff!

ChallengeWhat is it?Completed?
Brexit (kind of) means BrexitCan only sign a maximum of 2 players not from the UK per season (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland) -UNLESS A NON-UK PLAYER IN THE TEAM IS SOLD, THEN AN ADDITIONAL SPOT FOR A NON-UK PLAYER FREES UPYes
Ah millennials...At least 5 players from the academy or U-21 must play at least 10 games each every seasonYes
The good old daysWin every trophy that Aston Villa has won in their history (lower league trophies like the Championship or League 1 can be disregarded once we make it to the Premier League)No
Carabao Cup (2020, 2021, 2023, 2 more to go)

FA Cup (2020, 2022, 2024, 4 more to go)

Premier League (2022, 2024, 5 more to go)

Europa League (2020*, 2023*)

Sky Bet Championship (2018*)

UEFA Super Cup (2020, 2023*, completed!)

Community Shield (2020, 2024* completed!)

* = not needed
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just caught up with it all. congrats on the title. Nice to see Cristiano on the playing staff too, he could probs still get a game for most sides! You're building some squad with eye watering transfer fee's! Keep it up
just caught up with it all. congrats on the title. Nice to see Cristiano on the playing staff too, he could probs still get a game for most sides! You're building some squad with eye watering transfer fee's! Keep it up
cheers mate, still crazy to me how I've won a Premier League title twice now but still haven't managed to get further than when we first qualified for the CL and went all the way to the semi-final! hopefully next season will be better :)
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August 2024: defensive mastermind and some familiar faces

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The transfer window closes with two of the biggest transfers of the window being arrivals for Villa. We also spent the most (technically) and have definitely harmed our budget for the next 2 or 3 seasons but I really believe that these players will bring us more money with their ability than we'll have spent by the time our payments to City and Chelsea stop.

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The board have given me the same expectations as last season, apart from having to reach the FA Cup final instead of the semi-final. It is definitely doable but will of course depend on the draw we get throughout the competition.

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Well, a win is a win I guess! Hughes is still set as our penalty taker but he's missed yet another one so I think I might change our penalty takers soon... A 1-0 win away against Cardiff isn't the best of results, but we defended well, attacked well and just couldn't finish our dinner. Once we find a way to find the back of the net after most of our attacks, we'll be unstoppable!

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Another great win with a goal from Romagnoli and Asensio, who's the club's top goalscorer so far this season. Honestly a really good start and a great way to defend our Premier League for the second time in the last 3 years.

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We'll be playing Watford in our first game in a domestic cup. They've been decent this season so will be a dangerous side but we always do well against them and I'm not going to let that change in the Carabao Cup.

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So many familiar faces! We faced Milan in the group stages about 2 years ago, and it was the same Marseille team who were in there then and knocked us out of the Champions League and in the Europa League! As for Galatasaray, I don't remember facing them yet so it should be an interesting matchup but one thing's for sure, we are NOT Marseille and Milan do what they did 2 years ago this season!

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When I joined Aston Villa, I never thought I would go on to manage them for 400 GAMES and win as many titles as we have. The journey isn't over yet, but what an adventure it's been so far! I can't wait for the next few years at this club now to see what kind of players we bring in and what competitions we win.

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We were the top spenders in this window, whether you count the money we'll have to pay in the next 2-3 years or not. We did have a great window in my opinion, signing some great young players who will bring in some much needed quality and potential to defend our Premier League title. Speaking of the Premier League, it was the league that spent the most in the world, as usual.

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Just 2 games in and things are looking good so far. We're not scoring as many goals as I want but we're not conceding any either, which makes this so much better. I'm just hoping now that this early August form will continue throughout September, October and every month until the end of the season to successfully defend our Premier League title for only the 3rd time in the club's history!

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Next month signals the start of a very busy season. With 4 Premier League games, one Champions League game and one Carabao Cup game to play, we'll need all our players to rally up and work together to get good results in all those games.

Villan of the Month:
View attachment 43188#7 Marco Asensio
28 years old
Left winger

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Out of just 2 games so far, Asensio was the best player in the side. It's great to see, as he was so good last season and there's just nothing better than signing an expensive signing justify his price tag by performing every single month. He scored in both our first Premier League games and I certainly hope that he'll keep doing that!
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September 2024: the best possible start

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As I mentioned in the pre-season update, the Tottenham game was set to be moved by a day or two and it did, so we ended up playing them in early September instead of late August. Nevertheless, it was a tough away game but we came away with a point, which is better than none to be honest. I would have liked a win, even if it was just 1-0, but we'll have to settle for this instead.

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I was a little worried about this Leicester game as we went into it in 4th and Leicester in 3rd, but the lads stayed focused throughout and waited for their opening, which came in the 72nd minute. van der Meer has proven to be a fantastic player and I think he might just break every record that Guedes has set in his time here! Let's hope I didn't jinx it now...

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We got off to the perfect start in the Champions League, as we grabbed a fantastic 3-1 away win in Istanbul against Galatasaray. van der Meer was one of the key players once again as he really is starting to fit into this team perfectly. Marseille and Milan drew 0-0 so whoever we play against in our next game will be a tough one.

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One of our last Premier League games of the month came up against rock-bottom Everton, who were without a win after 4 games. Let's just say that they're now without a win in their first 5 games. We absolutely smashed them as van der Meer continued his great form. Our defence is really performing well so far this season as we denied Everton a single shot in the whole game, which was fantastic to see.

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Another van der Meer man of the match performance and Isak's first goal of the season puts us through to the 4th round of the Carabao Cup, where we'll face Crystal Palace. Funnily enough, we're playing them next in the Premier League and we haven't lost in 7 games against them. Let's hope it stays that way.

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Tavares scored the opener after 10 minutes, which also turned out to be his first goal for the club, as Isak scored his 2nd of the season and we got a 3-2 win against Palace. I'm a bit disappointed to be conceding 2 goals in the same game, especially after our great defensive performances in the first few games but it's alright, we do still have one of the best defences in the league even after conceding those two goals.

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Our superb title defence continues as we sit in 2nd after 6 games, just 2 points behind City who ave won all their games so far. Bad performances from Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool mean they're out of the top 5 and that will give us a huge chance to build a gap at the top and hope that City slips up at some point.

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It'll be a stressful opening game for October against Milan, even at home. Games against Liverpool, Burnley and Newcastle shouldn't be too hard to get results in given our form right now and our history of results against these teams, although we'll definitely have to be wary of an upset or two. Palace in the Carabao Cup will be an interesting game as we beat them in the league in late September, and our two Champions League home games will be huge if we are to make it out of the group unscathed.

Villan of the Month:
View attachment 43176#13 Paul van der Meer
21 years old
Right midfielder

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He was our best player in pre-season and had a great two opening games as well but was just knocked off the Villan of the Month award by Asensio who was just world-class. This month, apart from one average performance, Paul was the one who was world class. It really seems like we've come upon a great, great player and I can't wait for him to keep performing like he has. With 3 goals and an assist from the right midfield position, he's a very dangerous player who will be key for us this season if we are to do well in the league and the Champions League.
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October 2024: winning every competition we're in?

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van der Meer is rewarded for his great start to his Villa career with a young player of the month award for September. He's truly been a revelation and at just 21 years old, he's still got a lot of time to reach his potential so I'm incredibly excited for that.

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A disappointing opening game for October but Donnarumma was outstanding and the main reason why we didn't actually manage to score a goal tonight. We're still looking good in the Champions League though and a good result against Marseille in our next game would put us in a great place to top the group or at least make it out of the group.

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A huge win against Liverpool thanks to Isak's goal in the 31st minute sees us continue our decent title defence. It's not been easy since City are proving to be incredible so far this season but I'm confident we can successfully defend our Premier League title with this team.

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We concede 2 goals in one game which is disappointing given our great defensive record so far this season but I guess it doesn't really matter when we get wins. A 3-2 win away against Burnley now means we're above Man City who dropped a couple of points in their last match. Everything is seemingly going well, let's hope it stays that way.

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A huge blow as Asensio goes off injured in this game, only for my medical team to let me know that he'll be out for the next month or so. It's definitely disappointing to lose him but in a way, it might be a blessing in disguise as Dumitriu can start playing more regularly now. He was the best young player at the EURO this summer so he's definitely a great player. In terms of the actual game now, we win 2-0 against Marseille which puts us 3 points clear of going down to the Europa League. Our next Champions League game is against Marseille and a win then, would put us 6 points clear and almost guarantee us a spot in the next round. I just pray that it stays that way and that we don't bottle it like we did 2 years ago.

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The second time we drop points this season, this time at the hands of Newcastle. van der Meer was outstanding again but it wasn't enough to get the 3 points, as Dumitriu shows the fans and I what we've been missing with him on the bench. On a more positive note, this team breaks yet another Villa club record as we go on the longest unbeaten run in the club's history.

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Another great performance from the lads and from Dumitriu, as we brush Palace aside to go through to the Carabao Cup quarter-finals. We'll be facing our title rivals at the moment in Man City, so it won't be an easy game by any means but I'm confident we can get a result against them.

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After a packed month and some dropped points, we sit in 1st in the league. That is only temporary as City have a game in hand to play but we're still the only unbeaten team in the league which is just fantastic. We would be 2 points clear of United if we dropped down to 2nd so let's just say that things are definitely looking good so far.

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Another tough month ahead of us. West Ham have been the surprise package in the Premier League so far and will be tough to beat at the London Stadium. On top of that, we'll need to worry about Arsenal and Chelsea who haven't had the best of starts to the season and will be looking to get some points. Brighton at home should be an easy win for us. Finally, we can make it out of the group by the end of the month in the Champions League if we get good results at home against Galatasaray and away in Marseille, as the first place in the group will be played between Milan and us later in December.

Villan of the Month:
View attachment 43050#13 Paul van der Meer
21 years old
Right midfielder

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No goals and no assists from Paul this month but 6 very good performances. He's pulling a bit of an Asensio right now winning his second Villan of the Month award in a row after winning Villan of the pre-season as well! He's turning out to be a fantastic replacement for Guedes, who's not had the best of times in Monaco having to come off the bench for 5 of the 6 games he's played in Ligue 1 so far and 3 of the 3 Champions League games he's played in as well.
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November 2024: a dip in form

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The first big news of November were heartbreaking. A broken leg in training for Will Hughes means he's now going to be out for the next 5 to 7 months. He's been one of our most important players by far ever since his signature for the club and it's just absolutely horrible to lose him for so long, but I guess it will give a chance to some younger players to step up and make an impression.

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As if Will's injury wasn't bad enough news, our form in November is even worse. Without a single win in the league and just one victory in the Champions League from two games, we've not only not guaranteed our spot in the next round for the Champions League but we've also dropped down quite a bit in the league.

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Other than the Marseille game, this was our first really big game of the month and I really wanted a good result but a point is all we got. It was incredibly disappointing as things were going so well up until the start of November but we'll need to settle for a point.

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Despite not being through in the group stages YET, this game and this win were huge. Milan beat Marseille 1-0 at the Vélodrome which means Milan will probably win the group now if we draw, although a win for us in our last group stage match would put us top of the group and Milan in 2nd no matter what. A point is all we need to go through for sure.

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To end the month on the worst note possible, we were at home against Chelsea and started off so well but just couldn't hold on and our title defence takes yet another hit. Some great performances from the league top goalscorer Pinamonti and Saúl were what lost us 3 points and I can only hope that we'll wake up for December.

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We've now dropped down to 4th, with the potential to drop down even more with Stoke having a game in hand. The Champions League is still looking good despite that Marseille away game hiccup and I really, REALLY hope the players are going to wake up in December and give their best to fix that form we've been in lately.


[/FONT]#9 Alexander Isak
25 years old

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A pretty poor month from all our lads this month, but Isak wins the Villan of the Month. It's definitely not his first with the club and hopefully won't be his last, as he came to me after the Chelsea game requesting a transfer to FC Barcelona! I've managed to convince him to stay until the end of the season at least by promising we'd reach the Champions League quarter-finals so let's hope that happens now...
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December 2024: mission comeback initiated

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Steven has become a key player in this side and when Chelsea became reportedly interested in him, he came to me asking me to be considered a key player. I gave him a new contract to make sure he felt that way and hopefully that keeps clubs away from him.

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Both the Arsenal and Tottenham jobs have become available in the last couple days, and while it would be a dream for me to manage Tottenham (as a Tottenham fan in real life), I just can't give up on Villa. We'e built something incredible here and despite interest from some huge clubs in England, I want to win the Champions League with Villa, it's my dream.

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If you remember, Harry signed a new contract earlier this season as his previous one was expiring in June 2025. Now though, he's played so many games so far and has been such an integral part of the team that he's asked for a pay raise again! His salary has gone from £55,000 a week to £78,000 a week and will keep him here for another 2 and a half years. He'll definitely have started to decline by then and will most likely get a pay cut before that, but he's been a true leader of this side since his arrival from Leicester a couple seasons ago.


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It was another lacklustre month for us in December. Usually very packed, some of our games were moved to January like the Carabao Cup quarter-final game against City. Nevertheless, we were narrowly beat by United in our only defeat of the month and managed two wins to end the month off, but it just wasn't a great month performance wise.

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This was one of our worst performances of the month. A draw against Milan is definitely not THAT bad a result, but I would've ideally wanted to win the group. Saying that, we could've played Dortmund, Bayern, PSG, Ajax, Real Madrid or Standard Liège if we had finished first so definitely a couple of tough opponents in there. Regardless, we finished 2nd meaning we had to face a group winner in the next round and it was going to be one of Atlético, Inter, Juventus, Monaco or Barcelona. The two other group winners were English teams so we wouldn't have faced them in the next round of course. I think probably got one of the better opponents in Atléti, but I know that the lads will want to do well. Knowing that Isak will leave if we don't get past the Spanish side is frightening, but I'm sure it'll motivate the lads and I to perform as best we can.

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A really tough defeat to take, especially after conceding 3 goals and conceding those goals at home! We definitely need to change something up right now as our title defence went from going great, to now going absolutely terribly.

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We hadn't won a Premier League game at home since Liverpool in October, so it's fair to say that this was a huge relief. Isak scored the only goal as he's once again one of the top goalscorers in the league despite our poor form as of late. We end 2024 on a pretty good note but I think we all know that we're going to need to do a LOT better in 2025.

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We danced around 1st and 2nd place for the longest time this season, but eventually dropped all the way down to 7th and now we're back up in 5th. Winning the game in hand we have over West Ham would be huge, as we'd go past them and up in 4th and maybe even 3rd if Chelsea lose. It's been a tough end to the calendar year and I can only hope that the New Year will bring us some luck.


#13 Paul van der Meer
22 years old
Right midfielder

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Some really decent performances from Paul this month earn him the Villan of the Month, but I doubt he'll be that happy about it. He played well and scored a goal, but the team as a whole didn't really shine much so he'll be disappointed about that. January 2025 will be a tough month, as every January every season is, and we'll need him in this kind of form with the rest of the team playing well also for sure.
Great read, just caught up with it all and your Back to the Future story.
Serious question, how do you get through so many games?
Great read, just caught up with it all and your Back to the Future story.
Serious question, how do you get through so many games?
Cheers mate! glad you've enjoyed the story so far :) to answer your question: honestly, sometimes I just sim games or sometimes I do actually get into the game to manage them but on a really high speed. My computer isn't the most powerful and tends to heat up like crazy when I play the games lol so I try to get through them really quickly so it doesn't blow up XD another thing too is I just love the team I've built hahah, so am always eager to play the games and get some good results!
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January 2025: comeback kings

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No injury, contract or transfer news this month despite the transfer window opening on the 1st of the month. It was a huge month because of the important games we played though and as you can see, we're in the 2025 Carabao Cup final! We had to get past City and United to get there so that's a huge achievement.

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I just realised that this game wasn't included in the previous screenshot but this was how we got to the Carabaoo Cup semi-final, and it's kind of fitting that we'd get past City on penalties, then past United on penalties as well! It was a really tough game but we showed them who was the stronger side both in this game and in the league as we beat them 2-0.

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We go through to our 4th Carabao Cup final in the last 6 years, having won the last 3 we were in. It's good news for us of course. We'll be facing Chelsea, who haven't been in the final since they lost to City in the 2017/18 season, so it's bound to be an interesting match.

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Some decent form in the league as we beat Tottenham, Wolves and City and drew against 18th place Everton moves us up to 4th from 5th place. We have 2 games in hand over Chelsea, United and City and two wins in those games in hand would move us up only up to 3rd, but just a point behind City. There's potential for us to get back closer to United and challenge for the title in this title defence, so let's hope we can do that.


#21 Alessio Romagnoli
30 years old
Centre back

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After 2 and a half years at the club and 90 games played, Romagnoli gets what I believe is his first Villan of the Month. He's been a hugely important figure in this Villa side since he arrived and has in fact started all 33 games he's featured in this season. He was fantastic this month, especially against City and United in games that were crucial to our season which is why he wins the award ahead of anyone else.
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February 2025: just about meeting expectations?

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Once again, no injury or contract news but just the one above, as our perfect form in January earns me the manager of the month in the Premier League with 6 goals scored in 3 games and none conceded. It's, perhaps surprisingly, only the 9th time I've won the manager of the month award despite spending a total of 7 years in the Premier League now.

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It looks like our domestic cup runs are going to continue as we find ourselves in the FA Cup 6th round, or quarter-final, against Arsenal next month. We also have just about maybe a toe in the Champions League quarter-final with a 92nd minute winner from Giles at home in our first leg game of the 1st knockout round tie. In the league, things have gone well too despite the humiliating 3-0 defeat we suffered against Liverpool at Anfield.

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A great performance from Tavares who scored the opener after just 3 minutes. He cost us a LOT of money and didn't play that much due to Will Hughes' good form, but since the latter got injured things have been a lot better for our Portuguese superstar and I'm glad to see him do well.

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This game was frustrating not only from a result point of view, but also because it means we're losing out on more points in the Premier League and just look like another top 4 side in England's top division now. A Premier League champion should be winning most games in their season and do well against the top sides and after really decent results against top sides in January, I thought that form would carry over but it just hasn't as we suffered our worst defeat in a long time.

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By far the most important game of our entire season so far, we just about came away on top. We absolutely smashed the Spanish side to be honest and I don't know how we only won 1-0 but a fantastic 1-0 win at home means we'll go into with every chance of going past the former Champions League winners.

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With 12 games left for us in the league this season, our title defence has gone a lot better than when we won the league last time out. A game in hand over City means if we get all 3 points in that match, we would be in 3rd still but just 2 points behind them. I have a feeling the end to the season will be a very tight one and that the title race could come down to the wire, I just really hope we're the ones to come out on top!


#4 Harry Maguire
31 years old
Centre back

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One of my first really important signings as Villa manager and now just a game away from reaching 200 games for the club, it's with a lot of pride that I've given Harry the Villan of the Month award. There were 2 or 3 players who did play better than him this month, but the fact that he's 31 years old and proving to be even more important now that he ever was for this side is a testament of how great a player he is. We have him for another couple years and while I hope one day he'll let one of the youngsters take his place and also become great players of their own, I also hope he can play at this level for as long as possible.