A few weeks ago, Villa might have been a Champion's League hopeful, at least for some people. I thought they were a candidate to take a step backwards, and I think Martin O'Neill agreed with me. When it became clear he wouldn't be able to make any big signings, and that a few players may leave, he jumped off a sinking ship. To be fair though, Villa have spent quite a bit of money under Randy Lerner's ownership, and there was nothing honorable about the timing or manner of O'Neill's departure.
This situation really leaves me unable to make a prediction as to what will happen at Villa Park this season. There have been reports that man y of the players were quite happy to see the manager leave, and their predicted plunge down the table without him may give the squad a sense of togetherness, as well as a chip on their shoulder. They came out on fire for their first match sans O'Neill, and absolutely dominated the first half against West Ham yesterday.
Depth has been a problem the last couple seasons, as Villa has faded late, but some cynics say the manager's unwillingness to use his bench was more to blame than the quality of that bench. I will withhold final judgement until a new boss is appointed, but it is safe to say Villa have a wide range of possible results this campaign. If they get in the right manager, and keep hold of their best players, another top 4 challenge and top 6 finish could be on the cards. On the other hand, if they get in the wrong manager, they could fall out of the top 10 altogether.