The great escape was completed as Aston Villa miraculously survived the drop and secured another season in the Premier League next year.
Captain Jack Grealish’s goal saw Villa take the lead on the day before Andriy Yarmolenko equalised minutes later to make it a nervy ending. In the end, they stayed strong and secured the point which meant Bournemouth’s win wasn’t enough to save them and Watford’s defeat to Arsenal meant they were the final team to go down.
The scenes after the final whistle were that of relief. The players gathered together on the pitch with the staff and bounced around in celebration, with the manager Dean Smith proudly boasting they would all celebrate by getting very drunk together.
But as the morning comes and the celebrations end, Aston Villa must decide how they build on this now.
Grealish is expected to leave but with the club still in the Premier League, they can now demand a much greater fee. £60million is a fee that has been reported, which would allow the club to not only replace Grealish but also strengthen elsewhere in the squad.
Pepe Reina’s loan deal is due to expire and with Tom Heaton hopeful of returning from injury in time for the start of the new campaign, Smith needs to decide whether or not he will be the first choice keeper once again.
In defence, the club need to improve. They conceded 67 goals this season, a number that only Norwich can top. Mings and Hause formed a good partnership in the middle but the full-backs really struggled both going forward and defensively. New full-backs on either side could be a big help to Villa and they could take a look at relegated Norwich defenders Max Aarons and Jamal Lewis to potentially help them. Another potential option could be a loan deal for Diogo Dalot of Manchester United, who has fallen behind Timothy Fosu-Mensah in the pecking order at Old Trafford under Ole Gunnar Solskjær.
In midfield, after replacing Grealish they don’t need so much work. A bit of depth wouldn’t go amiss but with McGinn, Douglas Luiz, Conor Hourihane and Marvellous Nakamba they have enough quality to continue to keep them in games.
The attack is the huge problem Villa have. Without Grealish’s goals, Villa cannot rely on Wesley, Samatta and Keinan Davis. They need to look at bringing in a proven goalscorer in the Premier League. I’ve seen them linked with Teemu Pukki but I wouldn’t go for him. After a big burst at the start of the campaign, he fell away and hasn’t scored now since January.
After his revelation after Watford’s relegation that it could have been his last game for the club, Villa could do much worse than look to bring in Troy Deeney. He has Premier League pedigree, he is a leader and he can play football. He’d also go some way to replacing the leadership qualities of Grealish and wouldn’t cost them a bomb.
Once the party is done and the dust has settled, Villa need to come up with a plan quickly about targets and new arrivals they need to make sure they’re not in this same position yet again next season.