Sky Sports, amongst other media outlets, has reported that Newcastle United has activated Ciaran Clark’s £5 million release clause and that the defender is en route to complete a medical, despite Roberto Di Matteo stating on Friday that he will not be leaving the club this summer. If we let Ciaran Clark slip through the net, we would be making a huge mistake.
Clark hasn’t developed quite the way a lot of Villa fans thought he would. At the start, he looked smart on the ball, tough and intelligent when defending and reading the game. With a change of manager every other year, it seems Clark’s development stalled somewhere along the way, along with the likes of Daniel Johnson, Callum Robinson and Nathan Baker. All of these players are academy graduates and players we have invested a lot of time and money in. We can’t be letting them join our rivals and blaming their lack of talent; we must look at ourselves.
Don’t get me wrong: Ciaran Clark isn’t a world beater or even the best defender on our books, judging by last season, but now we are at the start of something new at the club and that new feeling at the club needs a reminder of how much the last few seasons hurt. Clark is a “Villa man, a Villa boy”, as Di Matteo described him, and fills that profile for me: he was part of the team under Sherwood and Garde last season, albeit in and out of the starting XI due to form and injury.
Now that we have a strong set of backroom staff in the form of Kevin Bond, Steve Clarke and Roberto Di Matteo, I believe we’re best placed to develop Ciaran Clark and other prospects from the youth academy. After all, these players are at the heart of Aston Villa Football Club and know what the club is really about and what the fans expect on a weekly basis from a new look Aston Villa, under new ownership.
Aston Villa Football Club is in real danger of sending the wrong message to the academy graduates coming through over the next few years. Admittedly, we’ve had a very difficult few seasons where we’ve been grasping at quality and experience to keep us in the Premier League but we shouldn’t be letting our academy graduates join our rivals at the expense of what Aston Villa is about – taking advantage of our academy system and giving prospects the right development and, more importantly, time.