Caretaker boss Eric Black has backed Aston Villa to recover from relegation. Results over the weekend still left them with a mathematical chance of overhauling Norwich and climbing to 17th, but in reality everyone connected to the club is preparing for life in the Championship.
Villa's 2-1 defeat to Bournemouth on Saturday left them 15 points behind the Canaries with 15 points left to play for, plus an inferior goal difference to Alex Neil's team. It promises to be a pivotal summer at Villa, with the next managerial appointment surely one of the most important the club will ever make in their history, and Black believes things will turn around.
Black said: "I am sure this club will one day come back. It's going to be a mighty challenge, an enormous challenge. I went down once with Birmingham and we came straight back up.
"But, my goodness, it's a hard challenge. It's a huge turnaround at a club and it's a different division. It's a sombre mood, as you would imagine.
"It's been a difficult season for everyone concerned at the club. We're not relegated as yet but we're not far off."
Steve Cook and Josh King got the goals for the Cherries, despite Jordan Ayew's late consolation for Villa. Victory meant Bournemouth are virtually safe.
Callum Wilson also made his return following seven months out with a serious knee injury as an injury-time substitute.
"The manager called me in and asked me if I felt ready, and that was like asking a kid if they want sweets! I was raring to go, so I went straight home to get my stuff," the striker said.