With the signings of Joe Cole and Phillipe Senderos last week, it seems Paul Lambert is going in a new direction. For the last two seasons, it seemed the philosophy was to bring in young, hungry players to fill up the squad, eventually pushing them into the first team.
Due to injuries and phasing out some of the players who seemingly earned high wages but didn’t contribute enough to the team or who have questionable attitudes, the youngsters were put in to the starting XI – with mixed results. On some days we looked brilliant and on others we looked abysmal.
At this moment in time, I’m glad we’ve finally signed someone who has brilliant ball control and the ability to link up play as well as having ‘footballing intelligence’ – Joe Cole. We’ve been crying out for a ‘number ten’ type player who can pick the ball up near the final third and make things happen. In my opinion, Cole was never utilised in the right manner at West Ham. ‘Big Sam’ likes to play a certain way, with certain types of players, and I don’t think Joe Cole was ever going to feature too much in his plans, despite his experience and his creativity.
With talented youngsters in our squad, it will be great to have a player of Joe Cole’s pedigree to learn from. I’m thinking specifically of Jack Grealish. Having someone who’s won a lot in his career to look up to can be inspiring, as well as important for personal development.
On the pitch, it seems as if Joe Cole will be playing centrally, in a midfield three with Ashley Westwood and Fabian Delph, although in a more advanced position. He’ll be in line with Gabby Agbonlahor on the left and Andreas Weimann on the right, playing behind the striker, whoever that may be.
If that will be how the team lines up (bearing in mind that the whole situation could change by August 31st) then I’ll be happy with the attack. With Joe Cole coming in, this will allow Gabby Agbonlahor and Weimann not to have to focus on ‘creativity’, as they have been forced to in the past because of the lack of creativity in the team. Consequently, they can play to their strengths, which involves out and out attacking, running in behind the defence while supporting the defenders on the wings.
I was a little bit confused as to why we would sign Senderos but after thinking about it rationally I can see why Lambert has brought him in. He brings international experience and Premiership experience, which is invaluable. I think bringing in another centre back was a good decision. If Jores Okore becomes our starting centre back, paired with Ron Vlaar, I’m hopeful a good partnership will blossom and that Villa will reap the rewards. However, if one of the two should get injured, having Senderos, Clark and Baker waiting to come in is acceptable. Clark and Baker have been thrown in at the deep end in the last two seasons. Although some may argue that they’re not youngsters any more, they’re still players who have the capability and time to improve.
Hopefully, our future will become clearer and our situation will improve within the next few months. If we can actually spend some money, I hope Paul Lambert signs a new left back and a new right back because it’s those positions which we need to cover the most now.