I had a dream last night about Aston Villa. I've not had a dream about Aston Villa for years. It was all about Steven Gerrard and the owners spent all this money in the summer and a little next January and we finished in the top four.
Because we had Champions League football we spent even more money the following summer and competed. We didn't win it and we finished in the top four for a second time, something the papers and pundits claimed was the real success of the season. I didn't wake up then, it was almost as if I knew it was a dream in the dream, but we fast forwarded ten years and we had won the League and other silverware and Steven Gerrard was still our manager and we'd named a stand after him.
It turned out in the dream that it was all about the quality of player and they were simply not good enough and all the manager needed was lots and lots of money. I woke knowing that it was Manchester City tomorrow and that it was because of the way they play football and how they are coached that they'll beat us.
But that isn't the narrative we want to follow. We also don't want think about where we would have been had Dean Smith had more than eleven games to get his new players to settle and play the way he wanted them to play. Now, it's about spending that money in the summer and hoping for better next season, because this season, we are finishing worse than we did last season.
And it doesn't start or end with Manchester City tomorrow. Tomorrow is just something we have to go through.
Match facts from the BBC
- Manchester City have won nine of their past 10 Premier League games against Aston Villa, including the last six in a row, and drawing the other. Their last defeat in this fixture came at Villa Park in September 2013.
- Villa have lost 11 successive league matches away to City since a 2-0 win in April 2007. It is Villa's longest away losing streak against an opponent in their league history.
- Victory for Manchester City will secure their eighth top-flight title. It would be their sixth Premier League title, the second most after Manchester United's 13, and their fourth in five seasons.
- City are attempting to secure their fourth Premier League title under Pep Guardiola, a tally bettered only Sir Alex Ferguson's 13. It would make Guardiola the outright leader for English top-flight titles among non-British managers, going one clear of both Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho.
- Guardiola has won the title in nine of his previous 12 top-flight seasons as a manager: three times each with Barcelona, Bayern Munich and City.
- City have lost just one of their last 27 Premier League games, while they are unbeaten in 11 since losing 3-2 at home to Spurs in February.
- Their only final-day defeat in their last 13 campaigns came at home to Norwich City in 2012-13.
- Manchester City have triumphed in all five of their final league games of the season under Guardiola by an aggregate score of 20-1.
- The Citizens can equal the club league record of 22 clean sheets in a single campaign, last set in 1999 in the third tier.
- Kevin De Bruyne has scored 13 goals and assisted seven in his last 19 Premier League appearances.
- Steven Gerrard has lost 11 of his 26 Premier League fixtures as Aston Villa manager, equalling his total number of defeats in 118 league games in charge of Rangers
- Aston Villa have won just one of their 21 Premier League away games against the league leaders (D3, L17), beating Leeds United 2-1 in January 2000.
- They are winless in their last 16 matches versus the Premier League leaders, losing the previous seven by an aggregate score of 21-1.
- Villa could win their final-day game in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1998, following a 2-1 victory over Chelsea in 2020-21.
- However, they have triumphed in just one of their previous 15 final-day away fixtures in the Premier League, a 3-1 win at Chelsea in 2002.
- Philippe Coutinho has failed to score or assist in any of his last 10 Premier League appearances, after recording seven goal involvements in his first eight games for Villa.
- Ollie Watkins has scored in all three Premier League appearances versus the reigning champions, netting five goals in total.
Burnley and dreams
So I'm gong to end the post by writing that the Burnley performances was very much what we have become used to under Steven Gerrard. It could get better next season, but it's not going to get better because we spend money on players, it will get better because we coach players to play a certain way and we approach games a certain way.
And yes, dreams are just dreams. I don't expect us to finish in the top four because we spend lots of money. When we get a proper manager and the jury is still out on Steven Gerrard, I expect us to finish in the top four.