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Aston Villa’s Micah Richards – Sherwood’s first and finest signing

A look back on Micah Richards and why he’s Villa’s signing of the summer.

Micah Richards could well be Tim Sherwood’s signing of the summer. After losing Christian Benteke and Fabian Delph during the transfer window, Aston Villa needed to reinvent their squad ready for the new season. With considerate financial backing and profits made from Benteke and Delph, Sherwood has splashed out near £40million on transfers alone this window, but I think the free signing of Micah Richards, previously released by Manchester City, is the best one and here’s why…

Riddled with injuries in previous years, yes, Richard’s career has been hindered by the amount of time he’s spent out of action. But If you look at the time Micah did spend on the pitch for Man City and he’s an incredible talent; the bulky right -back was a powerful and pacey defender who’s influence bombing on down the right flank for City in 2012 was a huge factor in their first ever Premier League title win.

Before being inexplicably overlooked by Hodgson and his predecessor Capello, Richards became the youngest England defender in history at the time of his international debut. He would also be City’s youngest ever captain at 19 and was nominated for PFA Young Player of the Year two years on the spin from 06-08. It would be Mancini who would come in and get the best out of Richards during these famous times for Man City fans because despite the fierce competition to get into a very strong City side he would be Roberto’s first choice to defend his right-hand side.

He cost nothing. Although rumoured to be on £65000 a week, the Villa captain has cost Sherwood zilch in transfers. For a player who is undoubtedly capable of reigniting his career and again fighting for a national shirt (much like Tom Cleverly did last year), Richards could well be the signing of the summer for the entire league, that’s if the Villa staff can keep the injury-prone defender fit for the majority of the season.

Despite remaining fit for a good chunk of last season, Micah only managed to play in 10 league games for Italian side Fiorentina, this raises the questions of not just his fitness but his current ability. I mean, when Stefan Savic’s name is a regular on La Viola’s team sheet then just how bad has Richards got? However, I think his lack of playing time in Italy has nothing to do with his ability but more to do with the typical Italian system than Montella imposed. His formation mainly consisted of a back 3 with wingers covering the left and right sides, this left no room for the customary right-back position Richards is so good in.

This leads onto his ability to play centre-back, where he started playing during his Man City academy days, because Montella clearly didn’t trust him in that position. Richard’s has always been called upon by fans and pundits to be played in the central role but his lack of concentration and poor decision making resulted in a couple of bad results and from there Micah was thrown out right again. Now, at the age of 27, Richards has matured and learnt from his defensive mistakes making him ready for another shot at centre-back.

All in all, Premier league proven Richards would be an intelligent, no-risk signing for anyone outside the top 4 and Sherwood has done well to spot that. A fit Micah Richards can easily fill the gap Ron Vlaar has left for 4 months, being out with a knee injury, and can captain his side to a respectable league finish this season.

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