Aston Villa

Aston Villa FC (known as Villa, the Villa, the Villans and The Lions) are one of the oldest and most distinguished clubs in English football. It is one of only three Clubs to have the distinction of being in at the foundation of both the Football League and the Premier League – the other two being Blackburn Rovers and Everton.

The list of their successes is notable. Having won the European Cup in 1981-82, they are one of only five English clubs to win the foremost European club competition – now the UEFA Champions League. They won the First Division championship seven times, most recently in 1980-81, the FA Cup seven times, the Football League Cup five times and the UEFA Super Cup in 1982. They also share with Tottenham Hotspur the distinction of contributing seventy two players to the England team.
Their “deadly rivals” are the other local side, Birmingham City and what has been known as the Second City derby has been played since 1879 – although this contest is currently in suspension as the two clubs are in different leagues. The club colors are claret shirts with sky blue sleeves, white shorts and sky blue socks. Traditionally their badge was a rampant gold lion on a light blue background with the Club motto “Prepared” underneath.  Among their celebrity supporters are Prince William and violinist Nigel Kennedy.
Villa made a great start to the Premier League in 1992, finishing second to Manchester United. Following that, their form was inconsistent, although they regularly qualified for the UEFA Cup and won two League Cups. In the last FA Cup Final to be held in the old Wembley Stadium, Villa lost 1-0 to Chelsea.
During this period the Club never maintained a good League position nor did they hold on to any manager for long. David O’Leary quit in 2006 amid much bad feeling and the chairman and largest shareholder, Doug Ellis, cited bad health as a reason for selling his 38% stake. Randy Lerner, American businessman and owner of the NFL franchise Cleveland Browns was his surprise replacement. Lerner brought in Martin O’Neill as manager and many changes in the team and the kit were introduced.
2010 brought two unsuccessful trips to the new Wembley: defeat to Manchester United by 2-1 in the League Cup final was followed by a more emphatic 3-0 downing by Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final.
This was the prelude to more managerial comings and goings: O’Neill resigned five days before the 2010-11 season to be eventually replaced by Gerard Houllier. Houllier’s resignation through ill-health saw the controversial appointment of Birmingham City manage Alex McLeish, much against the wishes of the Villa fan base. McLeish lasted one season when Villa only just avoided relegation in sixteenth place. Ex-Norwich City manager Paul Lambert replaced McLeish but in 2014-15 Aston Villa scored only twelve goals in twenty five league matches, an unwelcome Premier League record and Lambert was sacked in February, with the eventual appointment of ex-Spurs manager Tim Sherwood.
Sherwood has been responsible for some improvements in the club’s Premier League performance, notably a 4-0 victory over relegation rivals Sunderland; however a defeat from Manchester City has left the club uncomfortably close to the relegation zone. His greatest successes to date have been in the FA Cup with victories over Leicester City, West Bromwich Albion and finally a semi-final win against the odds over Liverpool which saw Aston Villa back in their first Cup Final since 2000.
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