Britain Football Soccer - Aston Villa v Middlesbrough - Pre Season Friendly - Villa Park - 16/17 - 30/7/16 Aston Villa manager Roberto Di Matteo Action Images via Reuters / Alan Walter

By Amir Mir

Sky Sports pundit Ian Holloway has predicted Aston Villa will lose their opening game of the Championship season against Sheffield Wednesday as he stands by his decision that the club will finish 16th.

Holloway claimed in his column for the Sky Sports website that Villa will lose 2-0 against last season’s losing play-off finalists in their second-tier curtainraiser.

Holloway was slated by Villa owner Tony Xia when he predicted that the Midlands club “could easily get relegated” in the forthcoming Championship campaign, a comment the pundit stands by.

The former Crystal Palace, QPR and Blackpool boss has stated that manager Roberto Di Matteo has one of the “toughest jobs in football” as the Italian aims for instant promotion this season.

“Roberto Di Matteo, who is a wonderful man, has one of the toughest jobs in football to reunite the Villa fans with their players,” Holloway wrote in his Sky Sports column. “Despite getting criticised, I’m going to stand by my comments about Aston Villa finishing 16th – I hope they prove me wrong.”

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Di Matteo has the task of turning around a team that picked up only three wins last season, as the club were relegated into the second-tier amid fan protest and wretched player performances.

The club recently added their fourth signing of the summer with the arrival of Fulham striker Ross McCormack for £12 million, which will give an added boost to the Italian as they travel to Hillsborough on Sunday.

In other Aston Villa team news, manager Roberto Di Matteo reveals the targets he was set when he first arrived at Villa Park.