Last season was disappointing for a lot of reasons and a lot of players didn’t really perform to the level that was expected of them at the start of the season but at the end of it all, I’ve identified three players who I believe surpassed expectations last campaign.
I’ve picked out one defender, midfielder and forward who consistently performed for Villa in an inconsistent campaign. I’m sure a lot of people will disagree with me but, personally, these are the most important players that we need to hold on to going into the 2017/2018 season.
Hutton was probably the biggest surprise of last season. He’s been at the club for a long time and somehow managed to work his way back into the first team a couple of years ago. Perhaps helped by the early season injury of Ritchie De Laet, Hutton has established himself and then progressed as the season has gone on.
Many, like me, have been quick to criticise him in the past. I am very pleased to admit how wrong I was about him as a player. He is apparently attracting some attention from other clubs and we need to keep him, he is undoubtedly our best defender moving forward. Others probably would have picked James Chester but Alan’s attitude to the course just tips it for me.
Supporters had very high expectations when Jedinak had arrived at Villa Park and after quite a slow start to life at Aston Villa, many supporters were starting to question if he could still perform to his best. Those expectations were justified, though and once he settled we began to see the very best of the former Crystal Palace man.
The 32-year-old has been exactly what we needed in our midfield, a tough tackling big man who sits in front of the defence and dictates the flow of the game. Palace fans loved him for a reason and at times this season, he has stood out as the best player on the pitch by a country mile. I expect him to stay and, if he’s healthy, to be the first name on Steve Bruce’s teamsheet every week.
Who else? Fifteen million down the drain, Jonothan Kodjia scores again. And again. And again.
Whilst he is not the complete player, at times holding on to the ball for too long or trying to beat one man too many, Kodjia is one of the best players in this division. His natural ability to score goals is second to none and he seems to be enjoying life at Aston Villa.
There have been times this season when the Ivory Coast striker has won games single-handedly. He has made the striker position his own since arriving from Bristol City although Hogan and McCormack have hardly impressed.
A red card and then an injury was a sad way to end the campaign, but Jimmy Danger will be back. He should bring 20 plus goals with him as well.
I believe these three players to be crucial for Aston Villa next season so I am hoping for big things from them. If we can keep all of them in a Villa shirt and other players can step up then Aston Villa could be a real force next season.
It will be a long summer and most of us are already looking forward to the new season but I believe it is vital to look back and learn from mistakes made last season. Throughout it, the three players above became firm fan favourites for good reason. Let’s just hope that they can carry this forward to our second season in the Championship.