It's fair to say that the past twenty-five years of following Aston Villa Football Club has come with its fair share of ups and downs.
But I can honestly say I have never looked forward to a new football season with such an overwhelming feeling of pessimism.
I was fortunate enough to be born just in time to appreciate the glory years of the early eighties.
The team built by Ron Saunders and then nurtured by Tony Barton brought much joy and happiness to at least half the city of Birmingham.
Unfortunately those days now seem an eternity ago and things are much different. I'm still trying to work out how Doug Ellis bought the champions of Europe in the summer of 1982 and then proceeded to guide them to relegation in just five years. That must surely be some kind of record.
These days things are only slightly better. The continual decline under David O'Leary's guidance is causing serious cause for concern amongst the Villa faithful.
The final third of last season produced some of the worst football seen at Villa Park for some time and relegation fears were only dispelled in the final week of the season.
The only team worse than Villa at the end was Sunderland and they finished with the lowest points tally since the Premiership started.
The only highlight of a dreadful season was the derby victories over Birmingham, ultimately crucial in the battle for survival points.
The lack of transfer activity due to the never-ending take-over saga is a serious problem and one that could haunt the club come the end of the season.
But for now, we Villa fans can only cross our fingers and hope. O'Leary's promise that last season's dismal position was a one off has bought him extra time from Ellis, but many fans remain distinctly unconvinced.
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Steven Cronin owns the City Breaks website featuring city break special offers from luxury hotels to budget accommodations. For more information please visit www.sargas.
By: Steven Cronin -