We are just over a week away from our first game against AFC Bournemouth – and time flies. Nearly a year ago to the day we started our 2014-2015 campaign against Stoke City with a team that consisted of Brad Guzan, Alan Hutton, Ron Vlaar, Philippe Senderos, Aly Cissokho, Ashley Westwood, Fabian Delph, Charles N’Zogbia, Kieran Richardson and Gabby Agbonlahor.
Aston Villa Football Club has changed drastically since that day in terms of playing personnel, backroom staff, tactics and, most importantly, attitude. Tim Sherwood does not see survival as an achievement, like our previous manager seemed to. Instead of Roy Keane in the dugout, we will see Ray Wilkins and Hendrik Almstadt has arrived as Aston Villa’s sporting director, which is a new role at the club.
We will be approaching our game against AFC Bournemouth with a much more expansive and technical approach than the one against Stoke City a year ago and the team will have much more of a continental feel to it, given the extensive scouting of Ligue 1. There is certainly a huge buzz building amongst Villa fans and it is great to hear that season ticket sales are at a ten-year high.
Whilst many of those who played in that game against Stoke City are still at the club, it is likely that only three or four of them will be in the match day squad next weekend. Rumours that Sherwood is looking for a goalkeeper have been reignited and others are being slowly pushed out by the manager. Charles N’Zogbia’s latest cryptic tweets give us an indication that he is certainly not happy about potentially moving on and we haven’t seen much of Kieran Richardson, Aly Cissokho and Philippe Senderos during pre-season.
Sherwood has had a very busy summer, epitomised by the transfer activity of the last few days, and it seems he is closing in on deals for Emmanuel Adebayor, Rudy Gestede and Jordan Veretout, which would bring the total number of signings to ten. I expect us to add to this number and believe several fringe players are yet to be moved on.
Losing Christian Benteke and Fabian Delph after limping over the line to secure Premier League survial meant that Sherwood’s side was always going to be one of the bookmakers’ favourites for relegation next season but ‘4-4-Tim’ has surprised many with his clever transfer dealings as he stamps his mark on the squad.
There has been a lot of change in the last five months. More than half of our summer signings have no Premier League experience. This brings an element of excitement and, of course, uncertainty to the 2015-16 campaign. It represents a risk for Sherwood but he who dares, wins…