With the 16-17 season drawing to a close, a summer of transfers, planning and getting players into shape starts. In this post I’ll be looking at what Aston Villa need to do (in my opinion) to make the most out of next season.
I’m going to start off by saying that next season we should be aiming to qualify for the play-offs at the very least. I’m not too bothered about a cup run personally, but if we get teams that are two divisions below usm, then we should obvioulsy look to be winning those games.
The squad we finished last season with was a strong one, and I don’t think we need that much recruitment over the summer, we just need to team to gel.
Goalkeepers – getting rid of Italian keeper Gollini in January was a good move – he was too young in a league he didn’t know and with not enough experience. Bringing in Sam Johnstone on loan from Man United was a good piece of business – he was on loan at a promotion-winning Preston the year before, and he showed signs of a good keeper with a big future ahead of him. Johnstone is someone we need to sign permanently, Villa haven’t had a top-of-the-range goalkeeper in relation to the league since Brad Friedel was in his prime back in the late noughties. As for a back up goalie, Mark Bunn made a handful of apperances last season, and was solid when he did appear.
Defenders – One things for sure this tranfer window, we’ve got to cash in on left-back Jordan Amavi. The main reason we didn’t in January was we would have been without a left-back, and would have had to have signed one pretty quick as nobody else in the squad would fit the bill. Our centre-backs of James Chester, Nathan Baker and Tommy Elphick looked like they all played well together, and would have no worries about there being a partnership with them next season. However I am worried one of them (mainly Baker) could leave for the Premier League. Keeping hold of all three could prove tough. Our right-back situation was a funny one – Ritchie De Laet kept Alan Hutton out the team until he suffered a season-ending injury in September. Fans then slated Hutton for not being fit enough and making too many mistakes. Come April and the same fans couldn’t get enough of him. I hate people who want both sides of the argument. Hutton was fantastic – needs to kept at the club at all costs.
Midfield – We signed so many of them in the two transfer windows last season we know have more than enough to cover whatever formation Bruce wants to play. Most of them look solid too and have plenty of exprience under their belts – no worries from me in this area.
Attack – Jonathan Kodjia and Scott Hogan as two main strikers could be a match made in heaven. With Kodjia breaking his leg in the seasons penultimate game, I feel this could be something that will keep the big clubs off him over the summer, and if he comes back in the same form that he showed last season, and he and Hogan get a partnership going, Villa could be in business from the off. However with both picking up lengthy injuries last season, I think we need a third back-up attacker, not someone of the same quality as Hogan and Kodjia, but someone who would put in 110% when asked by the boss.
2. Summer clear-out
Some players we have don’t to it for me. In my opinion we need to get rid of a few who are currently at the club. The only way to do this is to name names:
- Gary Gardner – in the past he’s had two very successful spells with Notts Forest. He’s aslo 24 and hasn’t made much of an impact when he comes off the bench in most games, and by that age I’d expect a Championship player to do so. He’s also frustrating to watch if you ask me, he takes too long on the ball and seems to panic and not be able to pick out a simple pass.
- Leandro Bacuna – The stats will tell you he’s played over 100 times for us, and most of those at an unfavoured right-back position, after one amazing game at Norwich 4 years ago when he filled in for our injured right-back. He also turned his back on fans after being relegated in 2016, stating “he should be at Juventus”. Go on, Leandro you get the move to Juve…
- Birkir Bjarnason – Singed in January from FC Basel in Switzerland and was a bit of a ‘keep the fans happy by signing someone and play him for 6 games to see how he gets on’. A complete waste of money as he never adapted to the English game, and is now down the pecking order.
- Aly Cissokho, Ross McCormack and Micah Richards – Just players who need to be playing more. We should also get them off our books as were still paying them Premier League money. Ross McCormack never made the grade for us either, and quickly became and fans non-favourite.
The clubs pre-season tour to Germany should give Steve Bruce and the squad plenty of time to adapt and play a style they want.
So, in short, nothing to majestic in the transfer window, keep players fit and healthy and get rid of some driftwood players.
Thanks for reading,