When Scott Sinclair joined Aston Villa on loan in January 2015, fans’ opinions on the former Chelsea man playing in a claret and blue shirt were mixed. As he had not really played much football in the previous three years, it was understandable that some of the Villa faithful were concerned about the signing. In a previous loan spell with West Bromwich Albion, Sinclair was totally off the boil. In fact, since leaving Swansea City for Manchester City in 2012 for £8 million, Sinclair had all but disappeared and the years of hard work he had put in with the Swans were jeopardised by his failure to carve a place in the Citizens’ first team.
Sinclair made his Aston Villa début as a second-half substitute against Arsenal at the Emirates on 1st February, as the Villans were battered 5-0. Critical of his thirty-five minutes on the pitch that day, some fans were already suggesting that Sinclair was no longer the player he once was. Aston Villa Football Club was in a bad place when the former Swansea City winger joined: Paul Lambert was dismissed after a 2-0 defeat to Hull City on 10th February, ten days after Sinclair’s arrival, and it was a game in which it was felt that Sinclair did not offer much to the side.
After the defeat against Hull City, it was all change for Aston Villa Football Club and Scott Sinclair. With Tim Sherwood’s appointment, the players seemed buoyed and Sinclair started to deliver: an eighty-ninth minute winner in the fifth round of the FA Cup against Leicester City heralded the start of a good run of form for the winger, who followed that decisive goal up with the Villans’ only goal in a 1-2 defeat to Stoke City at home and he went on to endear himself to the Villa faithful with a fine solo goal against West Bromwich Albion in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup before finishing the season with a series of mixed performances.
The permanent move
Sinclair joined Aston Villa permanently this summer, when he was Tim Sherwood’s first signing as manager at Villa Park. He set Villa back a reported £2.5 million. It was suggested that Sherwood did not rate Sinclair and had no choice but to sign him due to a clause in the loan contract. Some fans were worried that £2.5 million had potentially been wasted on a player who would not feature.
In pre-season, Sinclair impressed Tim Sherwood and his coaching staff, particularly when he was deployed more centrally just in front of the centre-forward. The former-England youth international hit a hat-trick against Nottingham Forest at the City Ground and showed real signs of returning to form.
Sinclair started the season well against A.F.C. Bournemouth, making a nuisance of himself, and against Manchester United it was much the same story. Suddenly, Villa fans started to see his capabilities.
Last week, Sinclair showcased his ability, albeit against Notts County, in the League Cup, as he scored a hat-trick in a game the Villa boys won 5-3 after extra time. His hat-trick was a mixture of class, accuracy and effort. The winger’s movement and work rate were both superb.
It would have been harsh to have seen Sherwood drop Sinclair for Saturday’s game against Sunderland. He didn’t and the Englishman truly delivered, finding the net twice as the Villans were unlucky to take only a point from the game.
Technically Paul Lambert’s signing, Sinclair certainly has his Swansea spark back. The poacher’s instinct he has shown of late is encouraging, especially with Rudy Gestede not really delivering yet. The running done by Sinclair seems effortless and his movement is just what is needed in the team, where his clinical ability will be vital. There are those who are wary of building Sinclair up too much at this early stage of the season but he is a seasoned professional who consistently earned plaudits when donning a Swansea shirt. Long may his fine form continue.