Reviving sleeping giants (chapter 2): Aston Villa

Oct 8, 2015
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March 2025: I didn't like the Carabao Cup anyway...

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We had a few very important matches this month and at the end of one of them, Joe got injured. He's a big loss as he's been our starting right-back and sometimes centre back along Romagnoli so it's definitely really sad to be losing him, but thankfully we have a few players eager to step up and take his place.

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Well after 2 months of me saying no injury or contract news, you finally get both! Josh Hope played really well in our Champions League second leg game against Atlético and his agent requested that his player got a new contract so there it is. It's a little more than he was earning previously but he deserves it. At 21, he and Nav Dhanjal are the future centre-back partnership of this club so it's good to see him play well and get a new contract. Speaking of Dhanjal, I just realised that the club's most expensive signing EVER hasn't played a single game this season! I just feel bad now, he was promised some playing time but Romagnoli, Gomez and Maguire have all played so well that I just haven't found a spot for him. He'll definitely play the last few games of the season.

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I guess you now know why the title says that I never liked the Carabao Cup anyway. After getting past Manchester City and United on penalties in the two previous rounds, we were facing Chelsea in the final and how fitting that we lost the final on penalties. It's another trophy I'll be missing out on and my first Carabao Cup final without winning it but I'm confident we'll come back stronger next season. As for the league, things started off really well with great wins against Newcastle and West Ham but then went terribly against Leicester and Brighton, at which point I thought we wouldn't be in a good mind set against Atléti but it turns out it only made us more motivated and we're through to the Champions League quarter-finals! We're also through to the FA Cup semi-finals after smashing Arsenal.

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We went into the game as underdogs according to bookies, and I guess at the end of the day they were right. We absolutely smashed Chelsea throughout the game and even had Tavares, one of their former players, score against them. In the end though it wasn't enough as van der Meer gave away the equaliser and we then lost on penalties, not scoring a single one. I had just changed the penalty takers in the team as well so this was really tough to take.

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This is by far one of our worst results ever. Not because of the scoreline, but because of the opposition. Sitting far in the second half of the table, this should've been an easy win for us but we were way too arrogant going into it and I guess that came back to bite us. My main worry wasn't necessarily this result though, but the impact that this game would have on the outcome of our second leg against Atléti in the Champions League 1st knockout round.

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We were incredible in this match. Going away from home at the Metropolitano is never an easy feat, but we dealt with it really well and scored 2 away goals early in the second half to essentially secure our qualification for the next round. Isak was outstanding and it was nice to come away with a win in a game where we didn't 100% deserve to win, on paper.

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This was by far the biggest shock of the month for me. Even ahead of our defeat against Brighton! It was 0-0 at half time at which point I thought: "they've not had a shot yet, we really do have a chance to win this but we need to be more clinical and make sure we take the many chances we've had!". And in the second half that's exactly what happened! 4 goals and 19 shots in total whilst denying Arsenal a single shot on our goal puts us through to the FA Cup semi-final, close to the board's expectation of reaching the final.

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To be completely honest with you, I've kind of given up on the Premier League this season. We have the FA Cup to worry about and now the Champions League quarter-finals against Milan as well, so I can't be spending my time worrying about a competition which we seemingly have no chance of winning considering United's lead at the top. To finish 2nd or 3rd would be fantastic and we'll be working hard to reach that goal, but that's it. Well, unless United somehow slip up and we can somehow win the league of course!

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#9 Alexander Isak
25 years old
Striker
Swedish
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With 8 goals in 7 games this month, Isak has taken his tally to 32 goals in 49 games so far this season. On top of that, he now has 90 goals in 137 league games for the club which is absolutely world-class. In his case, I can't say "oh and to think we got him for this cheap" because we signed him for £78 million, but it's clearly £78 million well spent. He'll need to be at his best for the Champions League quarter-final tie against Milan in which we arguably got the best draw since we could've been drawn against the holders City, Barcelona, Dortmund, Bayern, Real Madrid or Monaco...
 
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April 2025: going all the way?!

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Abouchabaka was training with the team whilst some of his teammates were with their national teams and he got injured. He hasn't played much this season and in the last few months either but is an important backup player so it's a shame to lose him for so long.

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A good result in the league in April saw us officially qualify for next season's Champions League as we secured a top 4 spot. At this rate, we'll probably finish in the top 3 but you never know. The board were very generous and gave me £70 million to spend next season, should I decide to make some signings, and that's a huge amount considering the amount of money we've dedicated to the Dhanjal and Tavares transfers for the next 2-3 years.
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We got some redemption for our Carabao Cup final defeat against Chelsea by smashing them in the league, before winning against Arsenal and Stoke as well. United smashed us though, really harming our race for the Premier League title but the positives are that we've made it to the Champions League semi-finals for the first time since 2020/21, so 4 years ago now. On top of that, we've made it to the FA Cup final where we'll face... Chelsea.

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A world class performance from van der Meer and some equally as impressive performances from Tavares and Isak see us get a fantastic away win against Chelsea. Revenge for the Carabao Cup final defeat for sure!

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We've arguably got the hardest route to a Premier League title if we were to win it in terms of our last 5 games. We have to face both United and City in the space of a month, whilst also having to play against Watford and Southampton who are clearly having fantastic seasons. This won't be easy...

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A disastrous performance despite only going 1-0 down at half time. I think the most disappointing part of this game was the fact that we were a man up for 40 minutes but still didn't manage to score a single goal, despite being the stronger side stats wise...

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A HUGE performance from Isak was what we needed in this match after Gattuso made fun of me at the end of our last game when Milan beat us 1-0. He felt that I was overrated and made that clear to the media and I guess I'll be the one laughing now! An 85th minute winner from Isak definitely shut him up, as we make our way to the Champions League semi-final where we'll face Monaco. The other semi-final will involve Dortmund and City, who beat Bayern and Barcelona respectively.

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It was a rainy afternoon in Wembley for this semi-final and with a red card in extra time in the 105th minute, I thought surely we wouldn't make it through. We finished the game with 9 MEN as well as Romagnoli had to come off injured in the 119th minute but how fitting that it would be his Italian colleague Nicoló Barella scoring the winner in the 121st minute. Talk about that for drama! We'll face Chelsea in the FA Cup final for a chance at redemption after they beat us in the Carabao Cup final.

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That defeat against United was tough to take, but it looks like City and United have both played one more game than us which means that with a win in our game in hand, we would be just 4 points away from United and a point away from City. After that, we'll have 3 games (including one against City) to fight for 2nd place, maybe even 1st place if United slip up.

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#7 Marco Asensio
29 years old
Left winger
Spanish


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As Marco finishes only his second season with us, he's been nothing short of an iconic player for this club. He earns more than any other player with a wage of £275,000 a week but repays that easily with his world-class performances. At 29 years old, he's in his prime for sure and I can't wait to see how he'll develop in the next few years or if he'll deteriorate at all. About April though; he was fantastic to say the least and despite getting quite unlucky with small injuries throughout the season, he still comes back and plays incredibly well for us. Isak also had a great month but I felt that Asensio deserved the Villan of the Month just a little more this month.
 
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May 2025: Villa's new hero

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Huge blow as Tavares got injured after our Champions League semi-final second leg game against Monaco. We really needed him for the end of the season so it's frustrating to lose him, but thankfully Will Hughes is back and fit.
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There is the end of a long, crazy and stressful season. We went all the way to the Champions League final but were once again narrowly denied a place in the final, as we beat City on the final matchday in the Premier League to steal their spot and finish in 2nd. And in the FA Cup, we found ourselves a new hero in Laurent Giles.

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Our Champions League tie was a really tough one. Conceding those 2 away goals in the first leg at home was what ended up knocking us out. We played well in the return leg but at the end of the day, we just don't have the quality to get to the final yet as we saw our former star man Gonçalo Guedes make his way to the final, clearly justifying his choice to leave Villa for Monaco...

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Our Premier League hopes are over as United won in their last game against Newcastle to win the Premier League for the second time in the last 4 years. Our title defence wasn't a successful one but it definitely went a lot better than our previous one and I only have Isak to thank for that. Much like the previous seasons, he always turns up in the second half of the season and starts to score a lot of goals and he did that this season as well and it got us a 2nd place finish in the league.

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So we finish the season with 82 points, just 2 points behind the title winners. We had the 3rd best defence and 4th best attack in the league but that didn't stop us from finishing in 2nd place and to be honest, I couldn't be happier. There were times this season where it looked like we wouldn't even make it to the top 4 so to finish in 2nd is absolutely fantastic.

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Keith Laiwson from 16th place Tottenham denies van der Meer the perfect season as he gets the most assists in the league this season. Isak finishes top goalscorer well ahead of Lukaku and wins the Golden Boot for the second time since he arrived at the club in 2021. Pickford and Früchtl both played a lot of games in the Premier League, but the German keeper could only keep 8 clean sheets from 13 games while Pickford kept 13 clean sheets from 25 games. I guess if Früchtl played more games he would've probably gotten a better record than Pickford but it doesn't matter now.

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Van der Meer really won every single award possible this season as he got the Footballer of the Year, Players' Player of the Year and Players' Young Player of the Year. He's only the 2nd Villa player in the history of the English top division to do that, after Andy Gray in the 1976/77 season. Historic.

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Aston Villa has a new hero in Laurent Giles. He scored against Atlético in our Champions League 1st knockout round first leg game in the 92nd minute to give us a crucial advantage. He also scored a late winner against Arsenal in the league to give us 3 points and a brace against Stoke in a really tough match. Now, he's scoring in the 94th minute via penalty after De Ligt made a huge mistake by pushing Giles down in the box for the last kick of the game. He's truly turning out to be a hero for this club and you can be sure that I'll try to play him as much as possible next season.

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van der Meer truly stole the show this season. He was one assist away from equalling Guedes' record for most assists in a season, he destroyed the record for most player of the match awards (set by Isak last season and Guedes the season before with 11), and was just overall a fantastic player all year around. I can really feel we have a gem on our hands and at just 22 years old, he's still got a few years to develop and truly hit his peak and become an even more incredible player.

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We had some disappointments this season. The defeat in the Carabao Cup final was one of them, and to lose out on another Champions League final spot was heartbreaking too. To be the Premier League runners-up was pretty good, although we managed to sneak in first place a couple times this season and it's a shame we couldn't get the job done and defend our title. Our stadium was 100% full once again as the stadium expansion is still ongoing.

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
2017/18
2018/19
2019/2020
2020/2021
2021/2022
2022/2023
2023/2024
2024/2025
Ah millennials...At least 5 players from the academy or U-21 must play at least 10 games each every seasonYes
2017/18
2018/19
2019/2020
2020/2021
2021/2022
2022/2023
2023/2024
2024/2025
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, 2025, 3 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
 

coolmcool

Member
May 30, 2011
7,465
1
0
The Man Utd on FM are more like the old Fergie one than the current Mourinho one, always seem to be able to pull a big result out of nowhere, as Truro i have 11 losses against them to 1 win whilst i can put 5 past Man City, its crazy with their finances how good they can become
 
Oct 8, 2015
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The Man Utd on FM are more like the old Fergie one than the current Mourinho one, always seem to be able to pull a big result out of nowhere, as Truro i have 11 losses against them to 1 win whilst i can put 5 past Man City, its crazy with their finances how good they can become
I agree, I've managed big wins against some of the best teams in Europe and the likes of City, Liverpool, and Chelsea but just can't seem to play really well against United!
 
Oct 8, 2015
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Pre-season 2025/26: a huge departure and a record signing

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I'm not too sure what the board are doing to be honest. We already had an expansion planned and they've decided to expand the expansion! The good news is that that expansion up to 50,000 will be done in December, which is great news. There is a new stadium planned to be built though. Perhaps it will be named after me considering I'm now a club legend? Let's see!

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Some great contract news to start off the new season as van der Meer extended his stay at Villa Park by another 2 years. His contract is now good until 2030, so another 5 years. He's been one of the best players at the club so it's completely fair that he gets a new contract. I will want to get rid of that yearly wage rise clause though...

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After Manchester United made a gigantic offer of £160 million for Giles, he requested a new contract. Considering we signed him for £40 million, it would've been a great deal for us but I've heard from a few of the senior players that Isak is going around saying he wants to leave... That would be a HUGE shame.

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Just like Schick, Guedes and Amundsen have done in the past, a player leaves us for more money. I can't believe it! On top of that, how could he go to one of our title rivals! I guess I can only wish him good luck now and say thank you for his 98 goals in 145 league appearances for us. He truly was one of the best players this club has ever seen and it's really tough to say goodbye to him, but we now have over £150 million for a replacement and I have a feeling it could be a good one.

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I did say this would be a good signing didn't I!!! Kylian Mbappé, the current 2-time Ballon D'Or winner and winner in 3 of the last 5 years, is a Villa player. Literally the best player on the planet is an Aston Villa player. If we've not taken a huge step towards a Champions League trophy now, I don't know what will! I've taken a huge risk by giving Kylian those sort of wages but at the end of the day, we have the money so why not! I'm so excited to see Kylian play. It'll be tough to figure out if he plays ahead of van der Meer as our star right midfielder or up front instead of Giles considering we just gave Giles a new contract as a key player, but I'll figure it out. The Mbappé transfer did break 3 transfer records, so I guess Kylian would have to start ahead of anyone at this point.

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Well of course there would be a takeover now! After 9 years at the club and building MY team and doing so well, a consortium is going to try to come in and take advantage of that. The reported bid for the club is £706 million, which is crazy. I guess we'll see what that means for my future here if the takeover goes through but for now, we have a transfer embargo so thank God we signed Kylian just beforehand!

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After Kylian's signature, I was expecting this sort of ripple effect where all the players come to me asking for new contracts since we're paying him a ridiculous £400,000 a week. Nevertheless, Dumitriu and Tavares are two of our best players so I have absolutely no problem spending a little bit to get them these new contracts. We're currently failing the FFP but always manage to bring it back and pass it at the end of the season with prize money. Let's hope that prize money now will be for the Premier League and Champions League trophies!

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Abouchabaka has been here for 5 years but could never really impose himself as a starter in the team and after an all-time low playing time last season, I figure it would be best for his career to let him. It is to another Premier League team which isn't ideal, but we're getting a nice £20 million for him to make some revenue after our crazy £120 million expenditure on Mbappé.

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Nicolò and Dele both take paycuts as they sign new contracts since they had a year left remaining on their previous one. It's really nice of them to be taking pay cuts knowing that they're getting a little older, that we're paying crazy money for Mbappé's wages and knowing that soon enough, they'll be playing less and less. It's still a huge wage though, don't get me wrong, but it's less than they were earning before which is nice to see.

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Phew! The transfer embargo has been lifted as the takeover collapses. I'm relieved but at the same time, it could've meant even more money at the club so who knows, maybe this is a bad thing. As of right now, the chairman really trusts me and we have a great relationship which is why I'm happy that the takeover collapsed. We have a long, tough season ahead of us now and I hope we can get it off to a good start.

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A great pre-season tour in Hong-Kong finishes as we come back to England with 4 wins from 4 games, one goal conceded and 15 scored. On top of that, we also won the Community Shield ahead of Isak's new side which was, as evil as that sounds, amazing to see. He started the game and couldn't do ANYTHING against our defence of Tierney, Romagnoli, Gomez and Sessegnon.

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It took us a while to get the winner at Wembley but we played a fabulous match and come back to Birmingham deserved winners in my opinion. Carlo Ancelotti, the new boss at United, even came out after the game to support my claim so I guess everyone will believe that we're the deserved winners here. This Community Shield win, on top of the fact that we're predicted by the media to finish in 3rd, should be an indication enough that we'll be fighting incredibly hard for the title, just like we did last season.

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#7 Marco Asensio
29 years old
Attacking midfielder/left winger
Spanish

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A world-class pre-season from Marco, who also gets this award because he scored the winner at Wembley in the Community Shield. Ever since his arrival from PSG, he's consistently been one of our best players at the club and now partnering with Mbappé, he should do even more damage and I'm very excited to see that.

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
2017/18
2018/19
2019/2020
2020/2021
2021/2022
2022/2023
2023/2024
2024/2025
Ah millennials...At least 5 players from the academy or U-21 must play at least 10 games each every seasonYes
2017/18
2018/19
2019/2020
2020/2021
2021/2022
2022/2023
2023/2024
2024/2025
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, 2025, 3 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, 2025*, completed!)

* = not needed
 
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August 2025: the best front 3 ever?

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We did suffer a pretty big blow just a day before the end of deadline day. Früchtl announced he wanted to leave and started to create problems in the dressing room as a result, so I had to sell him for a lot less than he's actually worth to Dortmund. That left us with a big problem since we were without a backup goalkeeper for Pickford! I immediately sent my scouts all over Europe to look for someone who wouldn't be too expensive and who would do the job without being too annoying about his playing time.

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Enter Mile Svilar! The Belgian goalkeeper from Mönchengladbach signs for £26 million and will be our new backup goalkeeper. Since his squad status is first team, he might want to play a little more often but as Pickford is getting older he'll also get worse so we might see Mile play a little more. His wage is significantly lower than Früchtl's as well so this was a perfect deadline day signing.

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We technically spent £146 million this window but with the £60 million in bonuses included in the Mbappé deal, it takes our spending to £206 million. I think the fact that we're spending so much money as of late is clearly a statement of intent from myself and from the club and I hope that it worries the other clubs and that we get good results consistently now.

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Our Premier League and FA Cup expectations always seem to stay the same, which is interesting considering our Champions League expectations are increasing! The board now wants us to reach the semi-final of the competition, something we've only done twice since we started competing in the Champions League so it'll be a tough ask.

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Not the worst group ever but definitely not the easiest ever. Bayern are one of the best teams in Europe and Sporting have always been a strong side as well. I really don't know how to feel about this group to be honest, but I guess we'll see how we do after our first group stage game against Sporting on the 16th of September.

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We got off to a somewhat slow start with that Brighton result away from home but absolutely smashed it in our other 2 games! A win against Wolves at home was expected and I guess a win against Tottenham in London would've been too considering they finished 16th last season. Some great results in there that'll hopefully set the pace in the Premier League.

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Van der Meer and Giles are the heroes again for Villa as the latter scored a 90th minute winner to give us all 3 points in our first league game of the season. It was a really close one but it was great to see Mbappé, van der Meer, Asensio and Giles linking up to make up one of the best attacks ever seen in the Premier League.

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How about that for the closing game for August. A fantastic 4-0 away win against Tottenham and another man of the match performance from van der Meer sees us go top of the league after 3 games. My hope is now that we'll stay there for the time being, hopefully for a long time so we can win the title!

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A perfect start in the league with 3 wins from 3 games. We did concede 2 goals which is annoying but scored 11 to make up for it so there we are with the best goal difference in the league and the best record in the league. United and Chelsea are following closely but I'm keen on leaving them in the wind once the season really starts next month.

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#9 Kylian Mbappé
26 years old
Left winger
French

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The current best player in the world and the second most expensive transfer of all time in Kylian Mbappé is the Villan of the Month for August. I can't say that I ever thought I would be saying that in my managerial career, yet here we are! Kylian has been a huge improvement for this team and a fantastic addition. Isak who again? To be fair, our former star striker has been doing really well with United so far so it'll be an interesting show down between him and Kylian when we face United in the league on the 28th of December. What a match that will be. Anyways, Kylian has been fantastic so far and while Giles has scored more goals, our French star was more consistent which is why he wins the award.
 
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September 2025: Champions League favourites?

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Huge blow with Tierney out injured for our Champions League opener. Academy prospect Max Morris was our backup left back but he's gone out on loan now, so Steven Sessegnon will have to play there!

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How about that! We went from never being considered for the Champions League title to now being the 4th favourites to win the whole thing! PSG are somehow still favourites (along with the two-time winners in a row Manchester City) even after losing the best player in the world.

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Our best midfielder over the last season and a half gets injured in one of our last games of the month as we lose him for the next 3 weeks. Definitely not a positive, but at least Will Hughes will get some playing time now since Lewis Cook had been the starting midfielder next to Tavares!

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Some mixed results throughout September. On one hand we did really well against Liverpool as we smashed them 5-1 at Anfield and also beat Arsenal in the Carabao Cup, but on the other we lost points against City and didn't start the Champions League well as we drew 1-1 with Sporting.

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This could have been a very different game had Sessegnon not gotten sent off early on. We played 10v10 for the rest of the match after that and just couldn't take advantage of our chances away from home. Our next match is against Bayern, and we'll need to play better then and make sure we put our chances away.

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This game was right after the Sporting game and I did think the players would be fired up and look to get a better result, but we could only manage a draw against City. Considering our form so far, I would say this is a disappointing result but Manchester City have won the last 2 Champions Leagues so we were clearly up against a very, VERY good side.

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A world-class performance from our golden boy Mbappé gives us a 2-0 win against an unusually weak Arsenal side. We go through to the next round of the Carabao Cup where we'll face Blackburn, a game which should be easy enough for a team of our stature.

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Mbappé shines yet again with 2 goals and an assist against a terrible Liverpool team. To win 5-1 away from home against any team is great enough, but against Liverpool? What a season this could turn out to be if we can keep this sort of momentum going.

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We more than made up for those lost points against City by smashing Liverpool 5-1, and it turns out that those 3 points will be keeping us in 1st place in the Premier League. We're only 6 games in but it's good to see us top of the league early on to mark our ground. In the Champions League, we're just a game in so the table means nothing but Bayern had a pretty easy game against Salzburg, which should motivate us to get good results against them AND Bayern to put ourselves in a good spot to make it out of the group.

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#9 Kylian Mbappé
26 years old
Right midfielder
French

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Two Villan of the Month awards in a row for Kylian, who's turning out to be the one signing we needed to be dominant in England. He really is something else this lad, and I hope he can stay fit and keep these performances going for a while because if he does, I really do think we could do something in the Champions League, something better than reaching the semi-final!
 
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October 2025: the two greatest Villa players ever?

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Way to ruin a so-far great season... Kylian is out for the next 2 to 3 weeks with an ankle injury, probably the worst kind of injury if you ask me. It's very early on in October though so he should be back for the last few games of the month, thankfully.

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All in all a pretty fantastic month despite not having Mbappé for the second game of the month against Fulham. We conceded a few early on but then just completely shut house against Salzburg, Watford, Blackburn and Middlesbrough and just smashed it overall. As you can see though, Mbappé is clearly the best player in the world at the moment and Giles might very well be that some day considering his form! What was I thinking wasting him on the bench and starting Isak?

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A fantastic performance from Timo Werner denies us 3 points at home against Bayern. We had a great start with 2 goals in the first half an hour, but two goals in the last 7 minutes from Werner got the German side a point. Fair play to them or at least Werner, who played incredibly well but I do wish we would've gotten a win...

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Thankfully, our next Champions League game was a good one! A hat-trick from Giles (his first of the season) and a goal from Mbappé and Tavares give us an insane 5-0 win over Salzburg, putting ourselves in a great position halfway through the group stages and with a game against... Salzburg coming up next!

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It was a bit of a rotated side apart from some of the key players who got us a 2-0 win against Blackburn to go through to the quarter-final of the Carabao Cup! We'll be playing Sheffield Wednesday in what has been, apart from the Arsenal game, a pretty easy way to the latter stages of the competition so far!

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Almost a third of the way through the league and we're the only unbeaten team left in the league. On top of that, we have by FAR the best goal difference which will definitely help us down the road. Sitting 6 points clear at the top of the league, things are looking good. In the Champions League, we're just below Sporting right now in 3rd place but I know that we'll finish at least 2nd in this group. We could finish 1st, since we still have a game to play against Bayern but I think the most realistic finish for us will be 2nd in the group.

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#9 Kylian Mbappé
26 years old
Right midfielder/left winger
French

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It's a third Villan of the Month award in a row for Mbappé, who's turning out to be one of the best players who has ever played for Aston Villa. To be saying that Mbappé is playing for Aston Villa in itself is crazy. His excellent form throughout October now brings him to 11 goals and 14 assists in 15 games in all competitions, a 25-goal contribution in 15 games. Laurent Giles does have 22 goals and 6 assists in 16 games so a 28-goal contribution which is better, but Mbappé has just been incredibly consistent throughout the season so far and it's scary to think that we're not even halfway through it yet!
 
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November 2025: back to reality

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Terrible news as we lose Marco for the next 2 months after our game against Salzburg in the Champions League. We have Dele who's been on the bench lately due to Marco, Kylian and Paul's great form so I guess there is a positive since he'll get to play a bit now. Still, never nice to lose a player of Marco's ability...

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Dumitriu is now the one to get injured. Again, he also hasn't played much to the amazing form from a few of his teammates and his playing time will be reduced even more now that he can't play for a month!

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After the takeover rumours came to an end earlier this season, it seems that they're right back in order now! An Italian business man is keen to buy the club for not £707 million like previously, but £735 million now. No doubt the asking price for the whole club would have increased considering our good performances so far this season. I'm just hoping that if this takeover gets completed that I keep my job!

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I think you can guess what I meant by going back to reality from the Arsenal game. A 5-0 defeat away from home really put us in our place and was actually incredibly surprising given our form so far. The good thing is our heads didn't drop as we got wins against Sporting and Leicester straight after.

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We did so well to deny Salzburg a single opportunity all game, and get some extremely needed 3 points. It's a great way to prepare for our Sporting match now, which will undoubtedly be more important than this one. A great performance from Kylian as well, which I was happy to see.

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By far the biggest and most humiliating defeat of my managerial career so far. I just don't know what happened to the lads. We clearly didn't play well at all and at the end of the day, I don't know if we deserved to lose that heavily but it's a defeat nonetheless, our first in the Premier League this season.

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It was so important that our heads don't drop after that horrendous defeat against Arsenal and also important that Dele played well to replace Marco Asensio, out injured for another month and a half. We made sure all of that happened tonight against Sporting and managed to secure our spot in the next round as well by winning that game quite convincingly and easily. Our last group game is against Bayern; a draw or win would leave us as the group winner, while a defeat away in Munich would put us down in 2nd.

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That horrible result against Arsenal now means that the Gunners have a game in hand and can be level with us with a win. It's clearly going to be a tight title race and with the winter transfer window approaching fast and a transfer embargo still on, it could be a very tense second half of the season.

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#14 Laurent Giles
23 years old
Striker
Welsh


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It was about time Giles got a Villan of the Month award after his world class performances for us so far this season. He's only 23 years old and yet somehow has 27 goals in 21 games this season. He's definitely going to smash the record under my tenure for goals in a season, currently set by Isak last season with 44 goals. I can really tell Laurent will become a Villa legend sooner or later...
 
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December 2025: a dip in form

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A second takeover attempt ends in failure as the Italian who wanted to buy the club couldn't make up the funds necessary for the purchase. Still don't know how to feel about all these takeover attempts and what it might mean for me if there is a successful one in the future.

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I guess this explains all these rumours of a takeover! I didn't even pay attention but ever since the summer, the club has had a negative balance. With no prize money coming in until the end of the season, it's true that owning a club like Villa who don't make as much money as the likes of City or United can be costly, especially considering the calibre of players at the club. Nevertheless, Xia, who's been the club's chairman since 2016, now wants to leave the club after almost 9 years as the owner. This could be an interesting season after all...

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Considering our absolutely incredible start to the season, I guess we were bound to get a dip in form at some point. Two defeats against Stoke and West Ham see us drop a couple points but huge wins against United and Everton also see us win those points back in games we should have probably, on paper, lost. We're also top of our group in the Champions League as we beat Bayern with a 92nd minute winner from Giles and are also through to the Carabao Cup semi-final against Chelsea with a sole goal from Giles.

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What you wouldn't have seen in the results screenshot is that we actually knocked Bayern out of the Champions League with that away win against them, as Sporting beat Salzburg to claim 2nd in the group and go through to the next round! Absolute scenes.

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Shortly after celebrating topping our group, we were greeted with some pretty bad news as PSG will be our next opponents... We'll be playing the Champions League favourites at their new ground Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani Stadium in February, in what will undoubtedly be one of the club's biggest games ever.

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Once again Giles comes to our rescue as he scored the only goal in a 1-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday. It's been a while since we faced them and as tough a game as it was, we deserved the win and will go through to face Chelsea in the semi-final for a chance at another Carabao Cup final.

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I think we'll all be pretty to end 2025 with a win against United! They've been our main title rivals in the last 2 or 3 seasons so to get such a dominant win over one of the best teams in the league is incredibly satisfying. It was also an opportunity to see Alexander again, who's doing well at United and I'm happy for him even if he joined "technically" a rival side.

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Despite dropping points here and there, we remain in 1st place. That's all thanks to Arsenal who also dropped points since we played them, allowing us to be in the position we're in. Halfway through the season and we're 3 points clear in the league. The biggest surprise by far will be to see Fulham in 5th after 19 games, but also to see Tottenham all the way down in 18th. What a weird season this is turning out to be.

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#21 Alessio Romagnoli
30 years old
Centre back
Italian


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Despite wanting out, Alessio is still playing most, if not every, game of our season so far since he's by some margin our best defender at the club. With the winter transfer window opening soon, he could be leaving then which would leave a gap in our starting lineup. Thankfully, the collapsed takeover earlier this month meant that the transfer embargo was lifted and we can make signings again.
 
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January 2026: goodbye captain!

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A very busy month in January was started off in the best way possible, with Kylian winning his 3rd Ballon D'Or in a row and 4th of his career ahead of Werner and former Villa player Isak. Mbappé is actually the first ever Aston Villa player to win the Ballon D'Or, so there's that for legendary status at the club already!

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Kylian also wins the World Footballer of the Year for the first time of his career, ahead of Salazar of Real Madrid and Lemar of PSG.

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And he also finds himself in an impressively attacking side as the World Team of the Year along with Dimata, Isak and Werner up front! I mean honestly, what an attacking team that is!

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Martial and Lemar might have had excellent seasons, but Mbappé has had a truly ridiculous start to his Villa career and that added to his last few months at PSG make him the best French player for 2025.

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I mentioned in late December that Alessio wanted to leave the club and like many players who enter their 30s, he opted for China as his next destination. Best of luck to him, he truly was one of the best signings I ever made as Villa manager on a free back in 2022. He'll be incredibly missed, but that's why we have some younger English centre-backs to take over now!

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With rumours flying around that United and Real Madrid are interested in Steven, I guess I should almost be happy that he got injured for just long enough that he'll still be injured by the end of the transfer window! It's horrible to say that, I know but at least we'll be able to keep him here for a little while longer.

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After 6 and a half years at the club and over 215 games played for us, it's time we said goodbye to our captain. Harry came to me saying he wanted to leave the club as he felt he had achieved everything he could here and I just couldn't get in his way. He'll be out on loan for now and will become a permanent Arsenal player once he plays 10 games. We'll be losing money on him since we signed him for £20 million but the amount of money that he's brought in due to his excellent performances and league finishes he's allowed us to get is priceless. Thank you Harry for a fantastic Villa career, you won't be forgotten.

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We had a little under £20 million to make new signings from our remaining summer transfer budget but after adjusting expectations for the board from a top 4 finish in the Premier League to Premier League champions, they've somehow given me an extra £55 million which means I was left with about £70 million, on top of the £15 million that the board gave me to invest from Romagnoli's departure! Bjelanovic was the first signing I made to have some reinforcements to our back line. Tomo is just 20 years old but already a starter and for just £17 million considering the likes of PSG, Atlético, Real Madrid, Barcelona and other huge European sides were in for him, I'll take it.

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Our second signing this window was one from South America and it was Elías Rodríguez of River Plate. He comes in for under £10 million as an already world-class centre-back. Being only 24 years old, he has the potential to lead this club for many years to come as well and will be a great tutor for our younger English centre backs.

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Dele gets injured in our last game of the month, disappointingly, taking him out of the side for the next month at least. We've been quite unlucky with injuries so far this year so it's a little sad to lose yet another big player to injury but thankfully, we have a decent amount of depth in the team.

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With an incredible 9 GAMES this month, I think we're pretty lucky with the amount of injuries we got! Anyways, it was more of a month to catch up on some domestic cup football rather than Premier League football as you can and boy was it successful! With 3 wins from 4 games in the Premier League, our campaign is still looking great. As for the Carabao Cup, we're in the final after beating Chelsea 6-2 on aggregate in the semi-final and we're also through to the next round of the FA Cup after beating Crystal Palace and Burnley, the latter less convincingly.

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This game turned out to be a lot tougher than it seemed to be honest, and the lads and I were quite disappointed not to get the result we deserved despite playing with one more man for 40 minutes.

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Our heads didn't drop at all though as we smashed Chelsea 4-0 to put one foot in Wembley for the Carabao Cup final. Tierney, now the club's vice captain after Pickford was appointed captain following Maguire's departure, had a world class game and was definitely one of the main reasons we did so well against the Blues.

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It was a debut to remember for Bjelanovic as he scored one of the two goals we scored past Burnley to take the game to penalties and win 4-1 there to make it to the next round against Crystal Palace. Our recently expanded stadium now capable of holding 50,000 fans is still completely packed whenever we play home matches, which might want to make the chairman either hurry construction plans for a new stadium or get a takeover underway, otherwise he might be facing a riot from the club's fans!

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Two consecutive 2-2 draws see us drop some points against City for the second time this season. I do think it was an even game though and the result reflects the match quite well. Our race for another Premier League title is still looking good despite losing 2 points today.

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A third consecutive 2-2 draw might sound like a bad thing, but it was enough to see us through to a 5th Carabao Cup final in the last 7 years. We lost last year's final to Chelsea so it felt great to knock them out and make it to Wembley where we'll face Manchester City, who we've struggled against this season but managed to beat in the final of the competition last time we won it in 2022/23.

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We find ourselves 5 points clear of Arsenal with a game in hand. Fair to say this is a huge chance for us to build a bit of a gap at the top to have a bit of leeway if we were to lose points down the road. Our goal difference is still miles better than any other team in the league as well, which is bound to help us later in the season.

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#9 Kylian Mbappé
27 years old
Right midfielder/left winger
French

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Three very average games from Kylian to start off 2026, possibly due to the fact that he was still celebrating his Ballon D'Or win a little over a week after the fact! Nevertheless, he improved massively afterwards and proved once again why he's worth even more than the £180 million we'll end up paying for him. What a player he is, honestly.
 
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February 2026: losing out on silverware

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Our brand new signing won't be playing for a while after a back injury, keeping him out of some important games against PSG and Chelsea. Definitely not the best way to start his Villa career...

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What a big occasion for this Burnley match at home. The stadium will be fully packed once again, so no pressure for my 500th game on the Villa bench as manager! It's been a fantastic adventure so far and to reach half a thousand games with the club is actually pretty insane. I'm nowhere near done with what I have to do here though, so let's hope I can stick around for a few more years and achieve what I want here!

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Definitely not the best month for us. Two defeats in the league and one in the FA Cup 5th round means our FA Cup adventure ends to the hands of Chelsea, who we also lost to in the league... Sigh... The PSG result isn't a good one either so we're going to have to work very hard in March to turn this around.

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What a performance from Giles. He's really turning out to be a hidden gem considering he was on our bench the whole time Isak was here! Don't get me wrong, Alexander was a great player but Laurent is clearly on another level.

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To lose against Fulham then Chelsea right after was definitely not a good way to prepare for our Champions League tie against PSG. Fair play to Pinamonti, he was fantastic against us but I really do wish we would've gotten a better result against a team who didn't deserve to win the game in my opinion.

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The French side will definitely feel like they came out of that one with the better result. No away goals conceded, just one goal to score away to win the tie. The one negative is that one of their best midfielders in Renato Sanches got sent off. I just hope that we can finish the job at Villa Park now, since a 0-0 draw away from home isn't so bad for us either.

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What a pathetic way to go out. We completely controlled the game but just couldn't put one of our 23 chances away and we're out. I was so mad at the players when we came back into the dressing room that I hope it scared them enough to not want to perform like this ever again. Honestly, I can't remember the last time we controlled a game so much and lost like that. Just pathetic.

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On the bright side, things are looking good in the league. We're 5 points clear of Arsenal and have a game in hand over Chelsea as well, which could really help us down the line if we get a good result in that game in hand. I'm confident that we're still the favourites to win the title with 12 games to go, I just hope the lads will deliver on the pitch to make that happen.

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#6 Lewis Cook
29 years old
Defensive midfielder
English

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Lewis is finishing his 5th season for us and he's only improved every season he played. This season is no different as he's imposed himself as the starting midfielder along Tavares as one of our defensive midfielders in the starting 11. No one was great this month but Lewis was one of our most consistent performers, despite missing the game against PSG. He's done a great job so far this season, I just hope he can maybe contribute a little more goal/assist wise in the next few months to help us secure the Premier League title and go far in the Champions League as well.
 
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March 2026: breaking a 100-year old club record?

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Great news to start off March, as I get a new contract for our great performances in the last few seasons. Increasing my wage by £15,000 a week to £65,000 a week makes me the 3rd or 4th best paid manager in the Premier League, which isn't too bad considering 9 years ago I was a nobody who couldn't get a job to save his life!

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Third time lucky for Tony Xia? It's now the 3rd time that a consortium has looked to buy the club and the last two failed as those consortiums couldn't raise the funds necessary to buy the club. If the chairman really does want to leave, he'll either lower his asking price or just accept whatever offer the consortium can make right?

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Horrible news as Kylian gets his first pretty serious injury of the season. It's in late March as well and he'll be out until the end of April, which just couldn't be a worse time for him to get injured!

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Steven's pretty good form in the last few seasons has earned him a new contract, finally. He's increased his wage by quite a bit to be honest, but it's deserved. At 25 years old, he's really been a key player in the team ever since Joe Gomez has started playing centre back again so it's great to renew his contract.

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The takeover screenshot did spoil the PSG result a little bit but yes, we did beat PSG 1-0 at home in the second leg, thanks to a Neymar red card in the 56th minute and a penalty from Giles in the 73rd minute to put us through to the Champions League quarter finals. We've also won the Carabao Cup against City, which is just fantastic, and have been in great form in the league.

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What a match here at Wembley and what a way to win some silverware this season! We absolutely deserved it in my opinion and it's great to win after we cruelly lost the final last season on penalties. I've also entered the managerial European roll of honour as a result, which is just crazy.

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What a win this is. Of course it's Giles who scores the winner; he's truly been the best player in this team this season, even ahead of Mbappé which really says something... We're through to the next round where we'll play Dortmund (who knocked out the defending champions Manchester City) so it'll be a really, REALLY interesting game.

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Fantastic revenge as we beat Arsenal 2-1 at Villa Park, getting them back for that humiliating 5-0 defeat at the Emirates earlier this season. Mbappé gets a long term injury which is heartbreaking but a great result nonetheless.

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A game in hand over Chelsea and we're 6 points clear. I really think we can go on and win the title here! It'll all depend on our last few games of course, and we have some pretty big ones coming up. We have had a great season in the Premier League for sure though, and I will focus on the competition heavily but I also want to do well in the Champions League so let's see if we can balance it out properly.

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#14 Laurent Giles
24 years old
Striker
Welsh
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Giles scored an insane 8 goals in just 5 games this month. It's not even his best month of the season so far, but he scored some very important goals against City, PSG and Arsenal which is why he gets my Villan of the Month. Now you might be wondering what I meant by a 100 year old club record and I guess I lied a little bit. Giles has scored 55 goals in 48 games so far this season, with 37 of them in the league. As it stands, the record for most league goals in a season for Aston Villa is 49 goals and it was set by Tom Waring in 1931, so it's a 95 year old record but imagine if Giles went and broke it. I mean seriously, 49 league goals in a 38-game season? I don't think anyone's managed anywhere near that in the Premier League era...
 
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April 2026: a real chance

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This is going to be a tight one for sure, especially given 2 of our last 4 games are against United and Chelsea, sides who we've had a tough time against this season. The current Premier League champions are nowhere to be seen in the top 4, but they'll be a great side regardless so this could be a really crucial 2 games to end the season on.

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I mentioned last month that Xia would have to lower his asking price if he wanted to sell the club and how about that for a discount? From £735 million to £494 million! It's a French business man now and with this price, I fully expect the takeover to be completed now.

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What a month for us. We dropped points against Leicester but as we've done so well this season, fought back to get maximum points in our last few games of the month. We have a huge chance of making it to our first Champions League final since the 1981/82 season when the club beat Bayern to win the competition for the only time in its history. This could really be a historic moment as we got past Dortmund quite easily in the quarter-final and have 2 away goals going into our second leg in Birmingham against FC Barcelona.

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A fantastic 3-0 win on aggregate against the Champions League holder slayers in Dortmund. We really did have a much easier time than I thought, which is great for our confidence as we'll now go to the Camp Nou hoping to get a similar result in our first leg to make it to a first Champions League final in 44 years.

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A win in our last Premier League game of the month against Southampton secured us a top 4 finish for this Premier League season. A great achievement but definitely not the end product that we want right now. We're still in with a chance of winning the whole thing so we'll obviously be working towards that. A budget of just under £50 million is a lot less than I'm used to here but given the financial status of the club right now and the fact that we could be taken over before the end of the season, I'm taking that amount with a pinch of salt right now.

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We have one foot in the Luzhniki in Moscow! What an incredible performance from the whole side but Giles specifically. We were one of the sides favourite to win the whole competition at the beginning of the season and with City, PSG, and most of the other contenders out of the race, I believe we are technically the favourites right now. With a 2-0 win away at the Camp Nou in our first game, there's clearly no pressure from us to do well in the second leg...

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We have 2 games in hand over City and just the one game in hand over Chelsea, but it's enough to see us still top of the league. A win in both our games in hand would put us 9 points clear of City and 8 points clear of Chelsea. It's really going to be a tight title race!

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#14 Laurent Giles
24 years old
Striker
Welsh

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Another stellar month for our record goalscorer sees him take his tally to an insane 60 goals in 55 games. To think that our best tally for a season was Isak last year with 44 goals is just crazy to me. He's had a few insane games, as well as one or two average ones but who cares when you have 60 GOALS in 55 GAMES. What a player he's turning out to be for just £40 million.
 
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May 2025: campeones, campeones, oe oe oe!

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A pretty awful first week to start us off in May. In what may be the most important set of games in the history of the club, we need all our best players and so to lose both Bjelanovic and Rodríguez is awful.

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Surely third time lucky now, right?

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Definitely third time lucky! The takeover has finally been completed and I can stop having that on my mind now. I'll keep pretending Xia is in charge until the end of the season, but it's a relief that finally we can move on from all these takeover rumours. Desplat doesn't seem to want to replace me yet so that's always a positive sign as well.

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Southgate has now been in charge for almost 10 years, and I have to say fair play to him. I declared my interest in the job a few months back when he did really badly with England in the European International League but he's now taken our beloved England to a World Cup in Mexico, where we'll have to get out of a group consisting of Japan, Egypt and Germany. Good luck to our English lads of course, but I do want that England job so at the same time I'm almost hoping he does badly so I can be the hero! We have 8 other players going to the World Cup to play for Belgium, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Wales and Argentina as well, so plenty of Villa representation in Mexico this summer!

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We'll be without our best centre-back for the club's most important game in their history. Arguably. It's a real shame but we have some great players capable of stepping in, I just hope it's enough.

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After an incredible month, we've won the Premier League for the 3rd time in 5 years! What a season this has been! At times, I really thought we wouldn't do it but we've managed to win it and it feels incredible. Our two huge wins against Chelsea and United were big factors for our title win and I'm just so proud of the lads.

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We're through to the Champions League final!!! For the first time in 44 years, Aston Villa will be in a Champions League final! What an incredible moment and what a performance from the lads over the two legs; we just beat Barcelona 4-0 on aggregate! It'll be an all-English final as well as Chelsea beat Marseille in their semi-final, also meaning that it'll be an English Champions League winner for the 4th year in a row!

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That 1-0 win over United set us up perfectly for the Premier League title against Watford and we did the job, winning the club's 3rd Premier League in 5 years. It's just been such a great season, I have no words. Mbappé, Giles, Cook, Gomez, Pickford, Tierney, so many great players stepped up and gave us this league win, it's incredible. I just hope now that we can defend the title properly next season!

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Amundsen had left a huge mark on this club when he played here, but he's now been long forgotten about as van der Meer breaks two of his Premier League records to write his own history here at Villa. Real Madrid have reportedly made him their top priority player, but no way am I letting him go. It's been an insane season in the Premier League though, as we win the title with a comfortable 11 point lead, the best defence and the best attack in the league as well. Man am I proud of these players and the work they've put in. No time to celebrate too much though, we have a Champions League final against Chelsea on our hands.

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We've done it!!! It was looking like a really tight game after 11 minutes as we had scored one and Chelsea equalised straight after but they just couldn't deal with us in the second half and we've just won the club's second ever Champions League! What an insane journey it's been with this team and what an achievement, to win the Champions League after failing to reach a single final since I took over 9 years ago! I became a club legend some time ago, but I guess now I'll be jumping to the top of the list of Villa legends! It's all thanks to the incredible players I have here though, really. And how about Bjelanovic scoring one of the goals even though he wasn't supposed to be in the starting lineup if it wasn't for Rodríguez's injury!

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Van der Meer really is something else isn't he... This season just like the last, he wins every possible Premier League individual award despite scoring just 2 goals in 33 appearances. I guess that shows you that you don't need to score many goals to be recognised as one of the best players in the world!

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I get Manager of the Year, we get 4 players in the Team of the Year and Giles absolutely smashes the Premier League record for most goals in a season. The best until this season was 34 goals, tally achieved by a few players since 1992 but no one has ever scored as many as Giles. 47 goals in 38 games, thats just unheard of... Van der Meer also gets 23 assists, a new Premier League. Man, what a season this has been.

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Best goalkeeper in Europe this season, two of the 3 best defenders, 2 of the 3 best midfielders and the 2nd best striker in Europe! What a season, what a time to be a Villa fan. How about that Golden Boot podium by the way, with 3 players scoring 12 goals in the Champions League this season. I think Giles should've gotten it considering he won the whole thing but hey, fair enough.

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Van der Meer surprisingly wins the fan's Player of the Season, despite not finishing as the player with the most assists at the club or the top goalscorer. Giles scored an incredible 69 goals in 62 appearances and made 12 assists as well, so an 81-goal contribution in 62 games, how about that... Mbappé finishes with 23 goals and 32 assists in 57 games, not bad at all from him either as he wins the signing of the season. Van der Meer ends the season with 3 goals and 30 assists in 54 games. The stadium wasn't 100% full for the first time in the last 2 years, as our expansion clearly brought more fans in but not enough to have a full attendance on aver for the season. We might've lost in the FA Cup 5th round but more than made up for it with a Premier League and Champions League. Now, a well deserved break for myself and some of our players, as the rest will go off to the World Cup. May the best of them win the whole thing, and let's hope they represent Villa well!

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
2017/18
2018/19
2019/2020
2020/2021
2021/2022
2022/2023
2023/2024
2024/2025
2025/2026
Ah millennials...At least 5 players from the academy or U-21 must play at least 10 games each every seasonYes
2017/18
2018/19
2019/2020
2020/2021
2021/2022
2022/2023
2023/2024
2024/2025
2025/2026
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, 2026, 1 more to go)

FA Cup (2020, 2022, 2024, 2025, 3 more to go)

Premier League (2022, 2024, 2026, 4 more to go)

Champions League (2026, completed!)

Europa League (2020*, 2023*)

Sky Bet Championship (2018*)

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

Community Shield (2020, 2024*, 2025*, completed!)

* = not needed
 
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