Aston Villa is currently a stalling ship. After the promising start made under Steve Bruce, the honeymoon period is now well and truly over. Poor performances have become an unwanted and recurring theme over the last few weeks. We really haven’t had much to shout about. The lack of transfer activity has deflated the fan base, whilst performances on the pitch have been far from the standard required if we want to spark a late challenge to sneak into the play-offs.
Whilst the move for Henri Lansbury seems to have hit a stumbling block, there seems to be a breakthrough in at least another transfer. It seems that we are nearing a deal for Conor Hourihane to join the club. Personally, I think that this could be the perfect move in order to boost our promotion prospects.
Undoubtedly, Aston Villa’s weakness is its midfield. We are either lethargically trying to open up the opposition in the final third or they are having a free run at our defence. There seems to be no in between, largely due to the absence of our midfield. If Steve Bruce is going to persist with two men in the middle of the park, Mile Jedinak needs a ball-playing midfielder alongside him – and Conor Hourihane can be that man.
The Irishman has contributed with five goals from central midfield and has the most assists in the league with twelve. To put that into perspective, Jedinak, Grealish, Tshibola, Westwood and Gardner have assisted three times between them, which is pathetic. Any successful team needs a ball-playing midfielder who can contribute goals – something Aston Villa Football Club has lacked for an awfully long time.
I refuse to believe that Ross McCormack has suddenly become an ineffective player, who seemingly cannot find his feet in claret and blue. Rather than our strike force being the problem, I believe it is the midfield. The lack of creativity in midfield is bewildering and is heavily denting our promotion prospects. Hourihane can be the player to contribute with the goals and assists and he can be the man to help get Ross McCormack and others firing.
The Hourihane deal is one that certainly excites me. If we can get this deal over the line, our squad will be much more balanced. I am glad Bruce has identified the midfield as a major weakness, as it has cost us games far too often already this season. The rumoured fee for Hourihane is in the region of £1.5 million. For a man who has scored five goals and assisted twelve times, that is an absolute snip.
In a transfer window which has seemingly resulted in many dead ends for Dr Tony Xia and his team, if we were to sign one player, I would want that man to be Conor Hourihane.