Aston Villa were 90 minutes away from a Premier League return in May, but after being outclassed at Wembley by Fulham, the club seems to once again be on the decline.
With just two wins from their opening seven, Villa fans may still be counting themselves lucky, having been threatened with similar financial turmoil as the likes of Leeds United and Portsmouth have faced in the past.
One of Villa’s best players last season was Irish international Conor Hourihane, who started 43 games, scoring 11 and assisting two. Hourihane’s time at Villa Park could well be up by January, with the former Barnsley skipper reportedly unhappy with his role this season.
Hourihane has been demoted to second fiddle behind summer arrival John McGinn and told the Express & Star of his feelings towards it. “It’s been hugely disappointing for me – last year I felt I had a good year – “I feel I have been left out of it a little this year and it is hugely disappointing. I kept my head down and working hard and you get the rewards in the end.”
Hourihane’s abrupt drop down the pecking may have a part to play in Villa’s slow start, especially when you consider the current options ahead of him. Mile Jedinak and Glenn Whelan, both 34, have established themselves ahead of the Irishman, despite being well past their best.
Villa face Rotherham on Tuesday night and after Hourihane’s 93rd-minute equaliser against Blackburn on Saturday, Steve Bruce may have no other alternative than to play the prolific midfielder.