Fulham manager Martin Jol has a soft spot for Villa.

In 1982, when he was playing for midlands rivals West Brom, Jol sat with the Villa fans for their European Cup final triumph over Bayern Munich in Rotterdam.

“I saw Aston Villa winning the European Cup,” Jol said.

“I was at West Brom and they are big rivals so I kept a low profile as I couldn’t get another ticket. I kept my head down with a cap on. I was at the back of the stand.

“It is a big, big club in Birmingham, number one there, and I always liked them.

“We always had derby games against them, with Coventry but especially at West Brom.

“Peter Withe got the winner and Tony Morley, who came to my club later, was the star player then, they had a very good team.”

Jol has watched Villa’s recent demise with bemusement, from challenging for Champions League qualification to battling for top-flight survival in three seasons.

“I remember under Martin O’Neill they were third or fourth and in the Europa League could leave three or four players out,” said Jol, who has been linked with the manager’s job at Villa Park in the past.

“They were fantastic. And three years later, I don’t know what happened.

“Maybe their philosophy has changed. Maybe they want to play with younger players and that is a little risk.

“You give them a chance to play and they develop and get better and better. If they stay up you say they have done well, if not it’s the opposite. It’s a gamble.

“If they go down it wouldn’t be great but if you stay up people in England say you’ve done well.

“People look at us with different eyes. They see us as a top-10 club so we have to be there.”

Fulham are currently 10th and Jol wants one more win to guarantee they cannot be dragged back into the relegation dogfight. “I feel we need another win because you never know,” Jol said.

“Realistically we are fine but if everyone else starts winning in the last six or seven matches then you could have a problem. “Hopefully we will get a couple of results in the next week or so.”