Now that the Villans have played four games this season and with the closure of the transfer window fast approaching, it is time to consider how we might do this season based on these games.
The first game against The Cherries was a classic first game of the season for Villa and led to a winning start, which we have seen for several years now. The outstanding performers in that game were Gestede and Amavi. They showed that Sherwood has done some good business for relatively low prices, as he looks to maximise the money available to him by purchasing players with real potential.
The following game, against the Red Devils, was fairly dull and the result proved hard to swallow but, with optimism in the air, it was not going to wipe out the excitement surrounding the season ahead. With Adama Traore being introduced to the home crowd, Sherwood showed that we should be looking towards a brighter couple of seasons.
What didn’t help matters, however, was the disappointing defeat to Palace last Saturday. Even though we did play some good football, players have to take their chances at this level. From these games, Gabby Agbonlahor strikes fans as a shadow of the player he once was and, even though he has his uses, some believe he will not be playing at this level. for much longer.
Traore was impressive when he made his first appearance – and this leads me on to the Capital One Cup match on Tuesday against Notts County. I was fortunate enough to have seen this game, which gave me a better understanding of the things Sherwood is trying to instill in this squad. The impressive Traore, on his home debut, was outstanding: his ability to run at defenders and dribble past them shows we got a real gem in our squad. As expected, he made a few errors but he showed the potential that we want to see come to fruition. I just hope his injury isn’t as bad as some think.
In terms of the others, the defence was nothing to talk about, as it was not the defence we would start with in a league game. From what I saw, Sanchez has the ability to play in both midfield and defence. This may prove to be useful when injuries start to creep in.
Up front, we saw a very good attacking line-up. Sinclair, Grealish and Gil all played well together but still need time to work on developing their understanding of one another’s games as, at times, I could see them struggling to get their heads round Sherwood’s tactics.
The biggest disappointment was Ayew. I would have expected him to up his game. He was given the chance to impress and he failed to do so, even against League Two opposition.
One thing I noticed was the impact that Kozak had once he came on. He is tall, fast and strong. In some ways, he does remind me of Benteke and I feel he has some great attributes that could be useful in our squad. If I were the manager, I would experiment in the game against Sunderland and put Gestede and Kozak up front. I can imagine the heading ability we would have going forward. It would also mean that the team could play a wider game and width is what the Villans have been lacking in recent times. Reports in a number of newspapers suggest Kozak is leaving Aston Villa Football Club but I don’t think he would have been featured in the game on Tuesday if this is the case.
So, from these four games, what have we learnt? Well, I think we can all agree that the biggest disappointments have been Agbonlahor and Ayew. They will not be included in the team regularly if they keep playing the way they are. As for the rest of the team, it’s a matter of patience. As much as the game against Palace was a downer, the Eagles’ ´rebuilding operation began before ours and they have an array of players in the squad who have been there for a long time so don’t need to gel. It would seem that we have opted for a different way of building this team up. Sherwood is unlikely to buy so many players next year, as he attempts to build a stronger squad now and it will take time for the Villans to get back into contention for a top six spot.
As for the rest of the season, as we have seen with Amavi and Traore, we have exceptional players at our disposal. If Kozak goes then the Villa boys will struggle up front. He was amazing on Tuesday and seeing Kozak and Gestede up front would be something to talk about. The game against Sunderland is a big one not only for certain players but for those fans who need to be reassured that we have a brighter season ahead. Stick with this team. It will be worth the wait.