Nobody could have predicted Manchester United and Chelsea’s FA Cup exit at the quarter-final stage. However, while those defeats were disappointing for the clubs concerned, they were also galling for Aston Villa fans, who all of a sudden saw their club slip out of the European places and needing to finish fifth for a place in next season’s UEFA Cup. The official Villa website reports that nothing less than a top five finish will do for Martin O’Neill if the season is to be regarded as a success.
The Villa boss added: “This game’s about statistics at the end of it all – we played brilliantly against Arsenal but you can’t live on that.
“We got one point from that game and seriously, when you tot them up at the end of the season, getting one point from Arsenal was every bit as disappointing as dropping points against Middlesbrough.
“But it’s what we do over a season – I don’t want things to be clouded. We’ve got points to play for and honestly, I’m telling you we’ll go for it.
“Will it still be a good season if we miss out? Absolutely not. We’ve now got to show real resilience, and I know this is an over-used word in the game, but we’ve got to show real character. This is where we’ve really got to show it.”
Villa now sit in seventh place and a full seven points behind Everton with only eight matches remaining. Their main problem has been a lack of prolific goalscorer, and it’s unlikely that they can bridge the gap between them and the Toffees before the season is out. Portsmouth are also a point ahead of the Villains although are likelier to qualify through the FA Cup.
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