On Wednesday 4th January, Aston Villa Football Club officials confirmed that Rudy Gestede had left the club. In a move worth in the region of £6 million, Gestede left Aston Villa in favour of a move to the Riverside. I was never fond of Gestede’s footballing ability. However, he was a model professional and someone I hoped would do well in claret and blue.
When Villa signed Gestede, he had big boots to fill – both literally and metaphorically. He was brought in to replace Villa’s talisman and fan favourite Christian Benteke. Thus, from the moment he walked through the door, there was a sense of expectation surrounding the Benin international.
When he scored on his debut against AFC Bournemouth, the signs were looking good – both in terms for the rest of the season and for Gestede himself. His aerial dominance was far superior than anybody else in the squad’s and he looked menacing whenever he took to the field.
Despite his early promise, he failed to deliver on a regular basis in an Aston Villa shirt. In what was Aston Villa’s worst ever Premier League season, Gestede failed to find any sort of form. His performances left a lot to be desired, as his lack of pace and technical ability meant that he was fairly easy to deal with in one of Europe’s toughest leagues.
Of course, he didn’t get any service at all, as he had to feed off scraps where he could find them. What one must applaud Gestede for is his effort. He may not be the quickest or the most mobile striker that we’ve ever had, but Gestede also tried his very best for Aston Villa Football Club. That is something we rarely saw from a vast number of first team players as we plummeted out of England’s top division.
It was a truly appalling and dour season for Aston Villa Football Club. Gestede provided the one bit of joy and pride I took from the whole campaign. His winner against Birmingham City is something that the towering forward will be remembered for, as his bullet header successfully defeated our arch rivals on the hallowed turf of Villa Park. It was a shame he couldn’t replicate goals of such significance in the Premier League for the remainder of that season.
Like many Villa fans, thought that this was the year when we would see the best of Rudy Gestede. The last time he was in the Championship he scored twenty-two goals in a struggling Blackburn Rovers side. For whatever reasons, he was unable to replicate such form for Villa. With the arrivals of Jonathan Kodjia and Ross McCormack, Gestede was not regularly involved in this campaign. With just four goals to his name, he has struggled to make an impact when he has started.
Now that both Jonathan Kodjia and Jordan Ayew are off to compete in the Africa Cup of Nations, I do find it a bit strange that Bruce would let Gestede leave so early on in the transfer window. Goals have been an issue as it is for us this season so selling Gestede at this time is bemusing. Typically, it did feel as if we needed Gestede against the physicality of Warnock’s Cardiff City side on Monday. However, considering his goal return, the fact that the club effectively recouped the money paid for him does seem like a good deal.
What I must commend Gestede for is his behaviour off the pitch. Frequently, he helped feed the homeless in Birmingham and performed charitable deeds. In terms of Aston Villa this season, his best use was perhaps as a translator for Jonathan Kodjia.
I do hope Gestede does well with Middlesbrough. He certainly was a model professional at Aston Villa and I’m sorry it didn’t work out for him in claret and blue.