Exclusive: Villa must grab UCL chance with both hands says Collymore

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Aston Villa have had a taste of Europe this season, and whilst their Europa Conference League campaign was ultimately in vain, their football domestically has given them the platform to take things up a notch on the continent.

After Tottenham Hotspur failed to defeat Man City, it meant that Villa were guaranteed to be in next season’s Champions League.

It’s a just reward for all of the hard work that Unai Emery, Monchi and the first-team squad have put in over the past 18 months, though there is one note of caution to be sounded.

Collymore: Villa have to go for it

Newcastle United’s sojourn into the premier European competition could be said to have been as much to blame for the incredible amount of injuries to their players as much as anything else.

A deeper squad is required if Villa want to make a splash in the competition, but that costs money and in the current climate a bunch of new signings is therefore unlikely.

What Emery doesn’t want either is for the Champions League commitments to derail their Premier League aspirations.

Regardless, former Villa hit-man, Stan Collymore, has suggested that the club need to grab their chances in Europe with both hands.

“Purely as an ex-pro, I don’t buy into this ‘I’d rather play in the Europa League or the Conference League’ because that’s usually an excuse for clubs worried about taking more than baby steps. Eighteen months ago under Steven Gerrard Villa were heading towards relegation so European football is great, but make no mistake – the financial uplift, the global stage, the ability to be able to get better players, to tie down your better players – all of a sudden becomes it infinitely easier,” he said in his exclusive column for CaughtOffside.

Aston Villa have been brilliant this season

“When you’re in the Champions League players don’t need to look around elsewhere. What’s the point unless they’re going to Manchester City who are virtually guaranteed to win a trophy? Why would players want to go to a Liverpool or a Man United? Some clubs can’t offer Champions League football next season and are in transition too.

“I think that it’s really important for Aston Villa to get into the Champions League and if we’re using this awful phrase of ‘branding and marketing,’ the club can reconnect with Asia, Australasia, the Americas, Europe etc. People will go ‘Aston Villa? I know them. That’s the club that Tom Hanks supports.’ It makes a massive difference.

“Villa have got top four money in terms of the ownership but you can’t just go and blow half a billion pounds, which Villa would if they could. I’d like them to look around and buy three, four or five players that know what the Champions League is all about, but we’re not talking about 37/38 year olds like Thiago Silva et al.

“I’m very comfortable with Monchi and his staff who have done a fantastic job, obviously, in terms of recruitment but they’re gonna have to go up a level now. If you get one chance as a club to get in the Champions League, take it and run with it. I’m very excited.”

It’s well known that Unai Emery is forensic in every aspect of his management, and no stone will be left unturned by him or his backroom team once their opponents in the Champions League are known.

With the likes of Prince William and Tom Hanks recently attending matches at Villa Park, which is now full to bursting for most home matches, it’s clear that Villa are a team and a club that are on the up.

A good run in the Champions League next season will be the icing on the cake.

More Stories Monchi Stan Collymore Steven Gerrard Unai Emery