Thanks for the memories

Dave Woodhall gives credit where credit’s due.

We’re back where we belong. I know you might not agree, because clubs are where they should be on merit but quite frankly bollocks to that. We’re Aston Villa and we belong on the top table. After all, it’s our table. And now we’re back there are a lot of people who deserve some of the credit. Some of them, such as Deano, Jack Grealish and Jed Steer are obvious. Others, less so. Therefore it’s only fair to pay tribute to these unsung heroes of Aston Villa’s march to the Champions League.

Steve Bruce – He steadied the ship and as I say to anyone who’ll listen he stopped us losing, he just couldn’t get us winning. Bruce brought in some good players and one bona fide Villa legend but the best thing he did was to send the team out in the play-off final like we were rank outsiders hoping to hold out for penalties against the big boys. If we’d wanted to win we might have, and God knows what could have happened then. Which leads us onto…

Tom Carney – Scorer of the most significant goal in years, although it didn’t seem so at the time. Losing was a pisser; winning would have been disastrous.

HM Revenue & Customs – If the government hadn’t been so determined to get their money so it could be wasted on the undeserving poor, Tony Xia might have stumbled through to the start of the next season and again, God knows what might have happened.

The unknown greengrocer – If it had been early closing Our Hero might not have been able to buy the fatal cabbage, therefore hurling not only scorn and ridicule on Steve Bruce, but also tomorrow’s tea. Bruce became the object of derision, and when that happens the end is in sight.

Paul Mitchell – Whatever might have happened afterwards, on the day he was a dickhead, and weren’t we glad of it in the end. We sometimes forget that before the match they were above us in the table and a point wouldn’t have been a bad result. On he comes, the team is galvanised and the rest is history.

Chris Wood – Not an obvious choice, but if Tom Heaton hadn’t got injured trying to stop his goal in the game where Ben Mee committed malicious wounding on Wesley we might not have got the best keeper in the world.

A rat in Wuhan – We can admit it now; we were down. Doomed to relegation and all the calamities that would bring. Then a rat bites some poor Chinese market trader, or gets released from a lab accidently/in a deliberate attempt to help bring about a New World Order, depending on who you want to believe, football’s cancelled for a few months and we go again, as a former manager would say.

Hawkeyesheffieldunited – Made no difference whatsoever.

Danny Ings – If he’d been any good and scored a few more we might not have got into so much trouble and Deano might have been kept on. Which leads us to.

Steven Gerrard – Imagine if Christian Pursow hadn’t been so star-struck and got a decent manager in rather than helping his mate out. We might have jogged along in mid-table for a few years, doing alright but nothing special. We might even, with a bit of luck, have got into the Conference League. Instead, he was so cataclysmically awful that he got binned before he could do too much damage and Wes’n’Nas decided to stop messing around and get serious.

Philippe Coutinho – Purslow gave his mate a job and his mate gave his mate one. A highly-paid job where he did’t have to do much except look the part a couple of times and add a bit more proof to the idea that Gerrard was a better player than manager.

Raul Sanllehi – Arsenal’s head of football when they sacked Unai. The idea of a football club having a head of football might sound as weird as a band having a head of music but that’s Arsenal for you. Long may they carry on being Arsenal.