Season | 2017-18 |
Matchday | #53 |
Manager Game | #89 |
Saturday, 26 May 2018
Football League | Championship | Play Offs | Final | Neutral | Fulham | Wembley Stadium | 85,243 |
Manager | Steve Bruce |
KO | 17.00 |
Referee | Mike Dean |
HT Score | 0-1 |
FT Score | 0-1 |
FT Result | Lost |
Last 5 Games | DLWDL |
Line Up |
GK Sam Johnstone | FINAL |
RB Alan Hutton | BOOKED | 86' |
RB Ahmed El Mohamady | SUB OFF | 77' |
CB James Chester | BOOKED | 8' |
CB John Terry | FINAL |
M Jack Grealish | BOOKED | 63' |
M Conor Hourihane | SUB OFF | 82' |
M Mile Jedinak | BOOKED | 76' | SUB OFF | 77' |
W Robert Snodgrass | FINAL |
W Albert Adomah |
CF Lewis Grabban | FINAL |
M Josh Onomah | FINAL | for M Mile Jedinak | 77’ |
CF Jonathan Kodjia for RB Ahmed El Mohamady | 77’ |
F Scott Hogan for M Conor Hourihane | 82’ |
Unused Substitutes |
GK Mark Bunn
M Glenn Whelan
RB James Bree
M Birkir Bjarnasson
Yellow | James Chester | 8’ |
Yellow | Jack Grealish | 63’ |
Yellow | Mile Jedinak | 76’ |
Yellow | Alan Hutton | 86’ |
Team Stats |
Starting XI Average Age | 30.16 |
Oldest Player | CB John Terry | 37.49 |
Youngest Player | M Jack Grealish | 22.72 |
Loaned Out |
W Carles Gil | Deportivo La Coruña | 12 July 2017 - 30 June 2018 |
LB Jordan Amavi | Marseille | 10 August 2017 - 30 June 2018 |
M Gary Gardner | Barnsley | 31 August 2017 - 31 May 2018 |
M Aaron Tshibola | Kilmarnock FC | 29 January 2018 - 14 May 2018 |
Match Stats |
Possession F | 49
Possession A | 51
Shots F | 12
Shots A | 15
Shots on Target F | 2
Shots on Target A | 3
Corners F | 0
Corners A | 3
Fouls F | 14
Fouls A | 15
On this day 26 May 2018
Villa saved what was arguably their poorest performance of the season for the biggest game of an entertaining campaign. Although Fulham were a pundit popular team, in truth they were fortunate to win the game in an evenly matched contest and were additionally fortunate not to have seen players sent off early in the game for some abysmal tackles. For Villa’s part it was almost as if the players had a hangover and looked a shadow of their best form with no spearhead in attack and seemingly treading water in midfield. Jack Grealish shone, despite Fulham’s assaults, and was involved in the best moves of the match however a solitary Fulham goal was enough for them to triumph and lap up the pundit plaudits. For Villa the explanation of the seemingly distracted performance became clearer just later when it was revealed - through boardroom acrimony - that Villa were on the brink financially and in danger of going out of business. The new owner had gambled the house on promotion and came away losers signalling impending disaster. The immediate fallout was the loss of players who had contributed so much but who Villa simply couldn’t afford to keep in their now revealed straightened circumstances.
Goalkeeper Sam Johnstone made his final appearance for Villa aged 25 before returning to Manchester United at the end of his season long loan. Johnstone conceded 68 goals in his 70 appearances making him statistically the 2nd best ‘keeper to have kept goal for Villa on 25 or more occasions. Sam was behind only Jim Cumbes (1971-72 to 1975-76, 183 games, 173 goals at a ratio of 0.95) and ahead of Mark Bosnich (1991-92 to 1998-99, 211 games, 207 goals at a ratio of 0.98).
Winger Robert Snodgrass made his final appearance for Villa aged 30 before returning to West Ham United at the end of his season long loan. In his short time with Villa Snodgrass had become a cult hero making 43 appearances and scoring 7 goals as he played an instrumental role in driving Villa up the Championship table.
Midfielder Josh Onomah made his final appearance for Villa aged 21 before returning to Tottenham Hotspur at the end of his season long loan. Onomah had made 37 appearances, 14 as substitute and scored 4 goals in his stop start season with Villa.
Centre back John Terry made his final appearance for Villa aged 37 before retiring from football. Terry made 36 appearances and scored once. Terry returned to Villa as assistant manager in 2018-19.
Saturday, 26 May 2018
Fulham have been promoted to the Premier League after beating Aston Villa in the Championship play-off final at Wembley.*
Captain Tom Cairney was their goalscorer, finishing neatly underneath Villa goalkeeper Sam Johnstone after latching onto Ryan Sessegnon’s pass midway through the first half.
A fractious game ended with Fulham down to 10 men after centre-back Denis Odoi was sent off for two bookable offences - both for fouls on Jack Grealish.
Villa were furious that Ryan Fredericks escaped a card during a first-half tangle with Grealish, the Fulham right-back landing studs first on Grealish’s leg, while the Villa man was later booked for a lunging tackle on Cairney.
Several Villa penalty appeals were also waved away by referee Anthony Taylor, including one in second-half stoppage time when Grealish fell under a challenge from Matt Targett.
The game opened up after the interval, with Villa much more incisive and Grealish looking most likely to find a reply.
However, the midfielder headed over the bar under pressure from Marcus Bettinelli and then saw his mazy run thwarted by a combination of the Fulham goalkeeper and Kevin McDonald.
Odoi’s red card invited further pressure, but Fulham held firm during a late Villa onslaught to clinch a win that is worth an estimated £160m - a figure which financial experts Deloitte say could rise to as much as £280m if the Whites survive for more than one season in the top flight.
Captain Cairney secures promotion
It was perhaps fitting that Sessegnon and Cairney, the two shining lights in an impressive Fulham team this season, combined to score the goal that sent them back to the top flight after a four-year absence.
The pair were two of the three nominees for the EFL’s Championship Player of the Season award, which was won by teenager Sessegnon.
The 18-year-old winger had been largely anonymous early on, but he found space in the centre of the Villa half and picked his pass perfectly to find the onrushing Cairney, who slotted coolly into the net.
Sessegnon could have doubled Fulham’s lead before half-time but his back-post header was directed straight at Johnstone, while he almost set up Stefan Johansen for a second goal midway through the second period.
“We’ve suffered for three years, not just in the second half,” said Fulham head coach Slavisa Jokanovic, who won promotion as Watford boss in 2015 but left the Hornets before he got the chance to take charge of them in the Premier League.
“It’s not been easy since I’ve been at this place. We’ve shown with our style that we can be one of the best Championship teams, and we’ve shown we can be solid, organised and fighting altogether for a clean sheet.”
Fulham back in the big time
Fulham’s transformation from mid-table underperformers to promotion winners has been one of the feature points of the Championship season.
Defeat at struggling Sunderland on 16 December left them 12th in the table, 18 points behind the top two. Twenty-three unbeaten matches later, they were on the brink of automatic promotion and, had they won their final game at Birmingham, they would have finished second behind champions Wolves.
There was to be no repeat of last season’s play-off disappointment, though. The Whites saw off Derby over two legs in their semi-final before beating Villa at Wembley.
While many have played their part, two January loan additions have been critical to their success. Newcastle striker Aleksandar Mitrovic has netted 12 goals in 20 appearances and given the team a physical presence up front, while the arrival of Southampton left-back Targett has allowed Sessegnon to push further forward and excel in a more advanced position.
Fulham spent 13 successive seasons in the top flight before their relegation in 2014 and the hope is that the nucleus of this team, helped by the financial backing of owner Shahid Khan, can see them become an established Premier League club again.
Their possession-based style has been as eye-catching as anything on show in the second tier and that brand of football should transfer well to the higher level, although there is very little top-flight experience in Fulham’s ranks and that is likely to be an area that Jokanovic will look to address in the next couple of months.
Fredericks should have been sent off - Bruce
On another day, Villa could have been awarded at least one penalty and had a man advantage for more than an hour.
In particular it was the Fredericks incident, which occurred right in front of the two dugouts immediately after Cairney’s winning goal, that most angered Villa boss Steve Bruce.
“There were big decisions that went against us,” said the former Manchester United captain, who failed to win a record fifth promotion from the second tier.
“For me, the boy should have had a red card very early. It was right in front of the referee and the fourth official, and for me he stamps on him.
“Nobody wants to see people sent off, but when it’s as deliberate as that, he deserved a red card.
“There might have been a penalty in the second half, but what we can’t disguise is that we didn’t do enough in the first half.
“You just need a break and unfortunately we didn’t get it.”
What next for Villa?
Many Villa fans will look back at this season and wonder what might have been.
What if talismanic midfielder Grealish had not sustained a freakish kidney injury that caused him to miss the first three months of the campaign?
What if striker Jonathan Kodjia had not suffered another long-term injury that wrecked his second season with the club?
And what if a possible season-defining 4-1 win over leaders Wolves in March, which left them four points off second place with 10 matches remaining and looked to have kick-started an automatic promotion push, had not been followed by miserable defeats by lowly QPR and Bolton?
Villa have spent heavily in the past two seasons in their bid to return to the top flight, but they will have to cut their cloth accordingly as they prepare for a third successive season in the second tier.
Grealish was their stand-out performer at Wembley. He was outstanding, almost scored one of the best goals ever in a play-off final and did not deserve to be on the losing side.
His consistent form in the second half of the campaign has been a huge positive for Villa and he is sure to be a target for Premier League clubs this summer, so keeping the 22-year-old at Villa Park will be paramount to Bruce’s side mounting another challenge for promotion next season.
“The discussions have got to be had above me to say what we’ve got and what we haven’t got,” said Bruce, who added it is up to veteran captain John Terry to decide whether he will play on at Villa Park next season.
“Of course there will be speculation about Jack. Personally, I would like him to stay. Another year with us would do him the world of good.
“We’d love to have given him the platform of the Premier League and we haven’t, but he’s playing regular football week in and week out. We’ll see what happens.”
Saturday, 26 May 2018
Fulham are back in the Premier League after Tom Cairney’s goal helped them see off Aston Villa 1-0 in the Sky Bet Championship play-off final at Wembley.
Cairney struck midway through the first half in a fierce-tempered occasion on Saturday, with the Cottagers having to see through the final 20 minutes with 10 men following Denis Odoi’s dismissal.
Slavisa Jokanovic’s side, who lost in the semi-finals last year, return to the top flight for the first time in four years, landing an estimated £170m windfall in the process, while Steve Bruce will have to wait for a record fifth promotion to the Premier League.
The pattern of the game was set from the off as Fulham dominated possession and Aston Villa sat deep to absorb pressure, but with just 23 minutes on the clock, the side in white managed to find their way through.
Ryan Sessegnon came in from the left flank and caused problems, slipping a fine ball between Alan Hutton and John Terry to find the run in behind of Cairney, who showed superb composure as he rolled the ball past Sam Johnstone.
Fulham had the lead but were maybe a little lucky not to be down to 10 men six minutes later. As Ryan Fredericks and Jack Grealish tussled for the ball, the Villa man went to ground and the Fulham defender appeared to stamp on his opponent. Nothing, however, was given by the referee.
Grealish came out of the incident unscathed and could easily have given Villa the equaliser with their biggest opening of the game shortly after the break. Albert Adomah cut inside and curled an inviting ball right into the heart of the Fulham area for his team-mate, but Grealish could not get a clean head on the ball under pressure from Marcus Bettinelli and his effort curled over the bar.
A red card seemed inevitable with so many rough challenges and it came with 20 minutes to go.
A rash high boot from Odoi, who scored the winner in the semi-final against Derby, caught Grealish - who could have been sent off earlier for a wild lunge on Cairney - leaving the referee no choice but to show him a second yellow card.
For Villa, 36 years to the day since their European Cup triumph, there would be no promotion to celebrate.
They will play in the Championship next season for the third-consecutive campaign.
Steve Bruce:”We didn’t do enough in the first half. We were too deep and too respectful and didn’t do enough with or without the ball to create any real pressure on Fulham. Whether it was the occasion or the heat, who knows? But we just didn’t do enough.
“But there were big decisions that went against us too. [Fredericks] for me should have had a red card early on, it was right in front of the referee and the fourth official. No one wants to see a spectacle ruined but when it’s deliberate as that he deserves one.”
Aston Villa: Johnstone (6), Elmohamady (6), Chester (6), Terry (6), Hutton (5), Snodgrass (5), Hourihane (6), Jedinak (6), Adomah (5), Grealish (8), Grabban (5)
Subs: Hogan (n/a), Onamah (n/a), Kodjia (n/a)
Fulham: Bettinelli (7), Fredericks (7), Odoi (4), Ream (8), Targett (6), McDonald (7), Cairney (8), Johansen (7), Kamara (6), Sessegnon (7), Mitrovic (6)
Subs: Norwood (n/a), Kalas (n/a), Christie (n/a)
Man of the match:Tom Cairney
Saturday, 26 May 2018
So numerous are the consequences of a play-off victory, that it is impossible to parse in the aftermath. Best, then, to concentrate on the occasion. Inside a Wembley so loud that eardrums were under threat, and with the temperature rising on the field, Fulham kept their cool. Claiming a first-half lead that they refused to give up under relentless second-half pressure, the Cottagers edged past Aston Villa and have returned to the Premier League.
The winning goal was scored by Fulham’s captain, Tom Cairney, and assisted by their teenage prodigy Ryan Sessegnon. To see these two young men celebrate with the trophy, Cairney still taking deep breaths to stay calm some 20 minutes after the final whistle, was a reminder of what this team has achieved. Largely shorn of big names, they have outplayed most of the division this season. Now, in front of 85,243 people, they played like the national stadium was their own back yard, and saw the job to completion.
This was a triumph for the club no doubt, but also vindication for their manager, Slavisa Jokanovic. Promoted to the Premier League with Watford three years ago, he left (read: was edged out) before coaching a single game in the top flight.
It is unlikely such an outcome will happen again, though. Jokanovic is trusted by Fulham’s owner, Shahid Khan – the man who intends to buy Wembley Stadium for himself – and this time, he will surely be rewardednot with the elbow but a new contract this summer.
“It’s not easy to come to this place to decide what we fought for these past few years,” Jokanovic said. “It was a really important victory for us and we deserved it. It’s not easy to play withlots of pressure, with lots of young players, and on the other side lots of experience. It was the first experience for me [of the play-off final], the first for 18-year-old players, but we played with character and expression.
“I am personally satisfied because this is our project. This [Fulham]( is myclub, my staff, our way for trying to get a team promoted. We needed two-and-a-half years. First year not to be relegated, second to start building the team.
“This year we improved a little bit more and came back after a bad beginning. Now we must adapt ourselves, we must know that the Premier League is the most competitive league and we must be clever. I will think about the new season in a few days. But tonight I will drink some beers.”
The decisive goal came in the 23rd minute, with Sessegnon cutting in off his inside-left position to meet a forward pass from Kevin McDonald. The teenager took a heavy first touch but was alert enough to chase it down. He won a 50-50 with Conor Hourihane to recover possession, and then turned and sized up the situation in an instant. He picked out the perfect pass between John Terry and Alan Hutton. Cairney read it, ran onto it and calmly placed it under the Villa goalkeeper Sam Johnstone from 10 yards out.
Villa had only flickered in the match to this point and had no response for the rest of the first half. Words were shared in the dressing room and Steve Bruce’s men returned to give it their all in the final 45 minutes. They were led by Jack Grealish, Villa’s own young talisman, who reminded everyone of the potential that has always been in his play.
A solo slalom from the 22-year-old on the hour nearly ended in the most glorious of equalisers, but after beating four Fulham defenders his shot was deflected into the body of goalkeeper Marcus Bettinelli.
Fulham were reduced to 10 men with 20 minutes remaining, after Denis Odoi was dismissed for a second caution for fouling Grealish, a marked man throughout. It presented a potential opportunity for Villa to exploit, but they spurned it by throwing too many attackers on the field and losing their composure. Fulham’s, for their part, never wavered for a moment.
“They set out to rough up Grealish, it was part of their game plan,” said a shell-shocked Steve Bruce. “But we didn’t do enough around Grealish. The second half was much better from us but to be brutally honest it wouldn’t have been too hard.
“The feeling now is utter disappointment for everybody and the next hard part is where we go from here. But let’s not forget we’re Aston Villa, we’re a proud club, a big club with big history. I’m really upset for everyone but I’ll roll my sleeves up and go for it again.”
Time ticks on and those questions about next season will soon press for both clubs. But matches of this scale do not come along for these clubs or their supporters that often. The task is to make the most of them and, regardless of the outcome, both teams can feel they did their best.
*Villa manager Steve Bruce not happy*with Ryan Fredericks being allowed to stay on the field after his trampling on Jack Grealish.
First half we didn’t do enough. But a big decision then went against us. The red card was very early and I know we don’t want to see a game ruined early, but I was right in front of the incident – he stamps on him."
"The occasion maybe, it was a boiling hot day, we were totally disappointed with the first half. We have got five of the players out there on loan. We will dust ourselves down and have another tilt and see if we can go one better. We have three or four players out of contracts, over the next weeks we will get ourselves sorted. [On John Terry]: It’s a big decision for John, we’ll see how he feels."
Tuesday, 5 June 2018
Aston Villa miss £4m tax bill deadline as chief executive is suspended
Aston Villa have been thrown into financial turmoil and face the threat of being served with a winding-up petition by HMRC, after the Championship club failed to pay a tax bill that was due last Friday. The news that Villa had missed a tax payment emerged on the same day that Keith Wyness, the chief executive, was suspended as a sense of crisis deepened at the Midlands club.
Villa are currently working with HMRC to try to find a resolution to a problem that is likely to be solved in the short term but threatens to resurface in one way or another further down the line because of the wider financial issues at a club that has been operating beyond its means and was essentially gambling on returning to the Premier League.
It is understood that the outstanding HMRC tax bill is in the region of £4m. Even if Villa make that payment in the coming days – there are suggestions that HMRC will have their money by the end of the week – the feeling within the club is that another financial issue could be around the corner unless there is some sort of cash injection.
Tony Xia, Villa’s owner, is not short of money but moving funds out of China is not straightforward. The worry for Villa’s supporters will be that the unpaid tax bill is a sign of things to come, so much so that the threat of administration, which is seen as the worst-case scenario for the club, cannot be dismissed.
The decision to suspend Wyness is not directly linked to the missed tax payment and says more about the chief executive’s relationship with Xia, the billionaire Chinese businessman who bought Villa two years ago, and the way in which things have unravelled during talks between the pair since the play-off final defeat by Fulham at Wembley less than a fortnight ago.
In a frank statement released last week Xia warned that Villa “will face severe Financial Fair Play challenges next season”. The club’s owner went on to say that Villa had been “heavily investing for the past two seasons” but that defeat against Fulham “means that we need to change a lot of things”.
Although there has been speculation about fresh investment at Villa via new ownership, no takeover is imminent and everything points to a hugely challenging summer ahead, with the departure of Jack Grealish, the club’s prize asset, looking increasingly inevitable.