It’s been a very busy transfer window for Aston Villa Football Club.
When we were relegated, it was clear that the squad needed an overhaul and changes had to be made. This was done over the summer by Roberto Di Matteo with Dr Tony Xia digging deep to fund the new era whilst promising a return to the top table and even Champions League football within five years.
Fast forward five months and Dr Tony Xia found himself once again putting his hand in his pocket to fund another overhaul of the squad. The majority of Di Matteo’s signings have not lived up to expectations for one reason or another. It is now Steve Bruce who is now carrying out further surgery to the squad in a bid to restore hopes of making the play-offs.
This is shown in the contrast in the starting XI from the first game of the season to last night’s game against Brentford.
The line-up against Sheffield Wednesday on August 7th:
Gollini, Hutton, Elphick, Baker, Cissokho, Bacuna, Gardner, Westwood, Ayew, McCormack, Gestede
Subs: Richards, Okore, Tshibola, Green, Amavi, Bunn, Grealish
The line-up against Brentford on January 31st:
Johnstone, Hutton, Chester, Baker, Amavi, Bjarnason, Hourihane, Lansbury, Green, Adomah, Kodjia.
Subs: Bunn, Elphick, Bacuna, Bree, Gardner, Davis, Grealish
The biggest changes are to the midfield. Bruce obviously felt that the midfield was stale and not contributing enough goals. With the departure of Westwood, who has not warranted a lot of the stick he has received, and the loan move for Tshibola, the manager has shaken things up. To play three new signings in the midfield positions shows just how much Bruce wanted to freshen up these positions with added impetus and goal-scoring threat.
With all the spending on new players, Aston Villa now seemingly has a Championship all-star team after cherry picking the best players from other clubs. I have a sense of déjà vu: a similar thing happened in the final year of Randy Lerner’s reign when the manager splurged millions on a host of promising yet unproven youngsters. The team never gelled, although it could be argued that there were more sinister and complicated reasons for this, and we all know how that experiment ended.
Without being too negative, the hope is that team spirit can be found and that all our players can play to their potential quickly. It has taken millions to assemble a squad of undoubted individual quality but a cohesive, unified squad comprised of players who buy into the team mantra can often be more valuable.
Let’s hope Bruce finds the answer to the Villans’ lack of team spirit sooner rather than later.