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Aston Villa news: Opinion – Fan on Europe or Champions League

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Now that the Europa Conference League is back for Aston Villa, a predictable question has been doing the rounds among fans: would you prefer Champions League qualification or to win the Europa Conference League?

It is the kind of question supporters of big and successful clubs do not entertain. They expect to be competing both domestically and in Europe. It is part of life. It is a given.

The big attraction of the Europa Conference League in the short term of this season has been the chance for Villa to have a legitimate chance of winning long-awaited silverware.

The elite Premier League clubs or European forces are not in it. Villa themselves are favourites, so it is a good chance to see if they can fulfil such expectations.

In the bigger picture, winning more games in the tournament directly helps Villa’s chances of Champions League football, by improving England’s co-efficient rating to potentially give the Premier League a fifth Champions League spot.

Then, it is very much a dress rehearsal for next season of managing the demands of the Champions League – if they do qualify – while remaining successful in the Premier League.

Unai Emery may already understand how to deal with it, but it’s been a useful experience for both the players and the club as a whole to learn from.

It’s an opportunity that Newcastle United did not have last season. Their rapid rise from relegation-battlers to the Champions League left them with no opportunity to acclimatise to the twin demands, and they have suffered as a result.

So, there’s only really a one-word answer to the initial question – both.

David Michael can be found at My Old Man Said, external

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