Whoever the manager turns out to be in May, there is a huge job to be undertaken this summer.
In the spotlight: Gerard Houllier and his No 2 Gary McAllister have failed to sparkle
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It's not a given, unfortunately. But last week's show at Everton gives rise to genuine belief that a corner has been turned.
If it hasn't and the worst happens, then I'm afraid Houllier's position is untenable. However, that is another point entirely. This summer, Villa will find themselves at a crossroads.
In a way, this season has clarified one or two issues. In other regards, it has opened a can of worms. But first, the positives.
Certainly, with regard to at least two more youngsters from the Bodymoor Heath production line, there are high hopes they can form a cornerstone of the club for several years to come.
The emergence of Marc Albrighton and Ciaran Clark have been real plus points. Albrighton began with a bang and found it difficult to maintain that early promise. But, as he gets stronger and more attuned to the demands, he will prosper. As a character, he's an absolute joy.
Ciaran Clark, I don't know as well, but those at Villa Park have spoken for a couple of seasons now that they thought of him as a future England captain. Or future Ireland captain as it now is.
So, that's the good news.now for the tricky bit.
It is likely that the manager will have to deal with one, or possibly two, significant departures.
I cannot see Ashley Young seeing out the final year of his contract. In this day and age, for a player of his experience and age, it would be too much to hope that he stays put.
Clubs are circling. And have been for some time. Sir Alex Ferguson and Kenny Dalglish were both present at the Reebok Stadium last month. Steve Rowley, Arsenal's chief scout, was watching Young against Wolves.
With the prospect of a year in the Champions League followed by a likely trip to the European Championshipsand a pay hike to match, it is too much of a juicy carrot for any player to ignore.With a price tag of somewhere between ?12-15m, Villa would be foolish not to cash in.
The same does not apply to Stewart Downing. He still has another two years left on his deal. However, Dalglish, in particular needs an effective winger to fire the bullets for his record signing, Andy Carroll.
At his age, and with the extra 12 months on his deal, he would command a premium price. But again, with the prospect of a few quid more, would Downing - who has probably been the club's player-of-the-season - not be off, too?
Not much to shout about: Darren Bent, Stewart Downing and Ashley Young celebrate at Everton
If either of those scenarios pan out, I would be amazed if Villa did not try and entice Matt Jarvis from Wolves. But, I digress.
Other likely departures include Nigel Reo-Coker, (out-of-contract and replaced to all intents and purposes by Jean Makoun) Stephen Warnock, (unless there is a change of manager) Robert Pires, (unless his dad takes over) Isaiah Osbourne (needs to take a long hard look at himself after being sent back from a loan spell by Sheffield Wednesday) Kyle Walker (back to Spurs) Moustapha Salifou (Salif-who?) and Luke Young. (see comment on Warnock).
Then there are other outstanding issues. John Carew has been loaned out to Stoke City, seemingly never to return too as he is another out of contract. Habib Beye has been little more than a name on a squad sheet.
Emile Heskey might have been likened to Didier Drogba by Houllier, but the evidence to support that claim remains thin at present. Time now isn't on the big man's side, either. Lest I forget Stephen Ireland? (The situation has been messy from the start)
Then there remain questions about whether several players are of sufficient quality to carry Villa forward.
Personally, I like Eric Lichaj and it will be interesting to see how he has developed next week when I'm at Pride Park to see the Rams take on Leeds United. Likewise Jonathan Hogg when he returns from yet another injury. And Barry Bannan. And Andreas Weimann, who is another particular favourite of mine. (He reminds me of Gerd Muller.)
Do you throw them all in and hope for the best? There is no doubt, as graduates of Villa's academy, that they understand the club.
Promise: Eric Lichaj (right) has impressed on loan at Leeds United
Then we come to others, more establishedplayers, like Michael Bradley and Fabian Delph. (Albeit the latter is inexperienced) Can they cut it in the top half of the Barclays Premier League? (Which is the very minimum this club should be operating at.)
With Houllier now deciding that Friedel is worth a new contract (!) - the only players who don't have clouds hanging over them are Stiliyan Petrov, Carlos Cuellar, Richard Dunne, James Collins and Gabby Agbonlahor.
At least four out of that five have been scandalously under-used. Petrov, in particular, has done well to keep his counsel after a magnificent game against Manchester City. He was the glue holding Villa together that day. However, he is a top earner and I don't think he will find another club willing to match his money in the last year of his deal.
Carlos Cuellar's distribution is little short of shocking. But, as a defender, he does exactly what he says on the tin. I think he's the most solid centre-half at the club.What a pickle.
I have thrown several issues out there. I don't know the answers. But then I'm not the man being paid to come up with them. Irrespective of what happens during the next six weeks, it is going to take a strong leader to sort out what has become a confused state of affairs.
Gerard, or whoever, all the very best.
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Explore more:People: John Carew, Emile Heskey, Alex Ferguson, Robert Pires, Ashley Young, Andy Carroll, Kenny Dalglish, Stewart Downing, Michael Bradley, Gerard Houllier, Luke Young, Fabian Delph, Carlos Cuellar, Matt Jarvis, Didier Drogba, Stiliyan Petrov, Richard Dunne Places: Ireland, United Kingdom