Manager – Paul Lambert
Major summer transfers so far:
Joe Cole – Free Marc Albrighton – Free
Phillipe Senderos – Free Nathan Delfouneso – Free
Kieran Richardson – Undiscolsed Alan Hutton – Loan
Aston Villa added a lot of Premier League experience to their side with the addition of Joe Cole and Philippe Senderos. Even Kieran Richardson has been around the League for a while. This experience may bode well for an otherwise very young Aston Villa squad. Cole and Senderos have both played in Champions League and title contending sides. Although their transfers to Aston Villa has appeared slightly underwhelming, I do think they can help Aston Villa progress from relegation battlers to mid table contenders.
As for the players departing the club, there isn’t much to discuss. Nathan Delfouneso was a youngster who was rarely seen in the first team. Alan Hutton was a decent right back. He was plagued by injuries however. I don’t think Villa will miss him too much. Marc Albrighton is a strange one. I saw some really good performances from Albrighton a few seasons ago. I really liked him. He just perhaps did not develop appropriately. I was sorry to see him leave. Perhaps one day we will see him back in the Premier League.
Many believe that Paul Lambert was lucky to keep his job after last season (a season which will no doubt be remembered for managers being sacked left right and centre). I think it was definitely the correct decision to keep Lambert. Many teams disadvantaged their chances of achieving their expectations last season by sacking the manager. Often I believe this was the reaction to a panicked owner. I think Randy Learner did the right thing in keeping Lambert. Lambert was not given much when he assumed control of the team. He was handed a youth project which was probably going to take a few difficult seasons in the league to get going. I don’t necessarily believe the tough times are over for Villa, but I think Lambert has a better chance of bringing continued progression for this youthful side. If Lambert can stay clear of the relegation zone and moves closer to a more stable Premier League finish, then Lambert will have proven he is the manager for Villa for the foreseeable future. If Villa must undergo another relegation struggle, perhaps Lambert has failed to make any substantial progression with Villa and his future should be put into question.
As I mentioned above, this is a young squad. Even with the addition of Cole, Senderos and Richardson this will be one of the younger teams in the league this coming season. Under Martin O’Neill this team was throwing money around and although they finished around 7th or 8th most seasons when he was in charge, you never felt like they were capable of making any further progression. They best six teams in the league were too far ahead and Villa just couldn’t catch up. I can understand the fans frustration that Villa have gone from being on the brink of competing with these teams to fighting for Premier League survival. This is made both better and worse by the belief that they are actually much better than their final league position suggested. I still get the impression that this team is making progression. Players such as Gabby Agbonlahor is at times very dangerous. He is capable of dictating a game in a manner not many players playing out with the top teams in the league can. Andy Weimann and Grant Holt are both decent players. Fabian Delph is a solid central midfielder. I am not impressed whatsoever by Charles N’ Zogbia on the other hand. Leandro Bacuna showed signs of being a promising midfielder last season. In defence, Ron Vlaar and Ciaran Clark both seem like a decent centre backs. Perhaps they play a bit erratic at times. Kieran Richardson might well take the starting left back position. He offers experience.
This guy is good. Very good. He sustained an injury last season which perhaps was a big contribution towards Villa’s deteriorating performances as the season progressed. When Benteke is fully fit, Villa are a dangerous team who are absolutely capable getting a result against any team in the league. Without Benteke, they are instantly worse. That might sound obvious, but when he is not in the team the loss is more significant when compared to other teams in the league losing their best forward. If Benteke can stay fit this coming season, I think Villa won’t have to look over their shoulders with nearly as much uncertainty as the past two seasons.
For all the good things I mentioned about this team, they still have so much to prove. My assessment is that they are on the right track away from the relegation battle through the development of a young squad which has been put together by Lambert. My assessment will only be correct, however, if these young players are good enough in the first place. I think the additions of Joe Cole and Philippe Senderos is a good thing to help the team along. I have been positive about this team with my analysis but let’s not forget that they were very lacklustre for most of last season, particularly towards the end. They did also show some positive signs last season. The performances in their win over Chelsea and their draw with Liverpool last season was very good and the results thoroughly deserved.
I think this team has better players than many of the teams playing for safety in the league. If most of their more important players can have an injury free season and play well, then Villa should avoid the relegation battle.