First of all, I am very glad to say that football is back. I was probably a little bit too excited to see us play the likes of Telford and Kidderminster on Wednesday night. Even if it is against lesser opposition in pre season, it is great to be able to see Villa play again. We were spoilt for choice, with two games on at once, so I chose to watch the first half at Kidderminster and second half against Telford (and what a delight Chris Samba was!)
It was nice to see us win both games comfortably and see young players able to get a game. I was particularly impressed with Keinan Davis and Cal O’Hare, although no-one looked out of their depth. I want to focus, however, on a veteran centre back’s performance.
Chris Samba seems to have been around forever and, as a trialist, I was watching how he played quite closely against Telford. I do understand that this is just one game, in pre season, and therefore only a small indication of how he is as a player. Having said that, I know that I am not the only one who was very impressed with Samba’s performance. His lack of pace wasn’t an issue as he got himself in the right place at the right time and he looked very comfortable on the ball. He is obviously a very strong and experienced player who, I believe, would be a valuable asset for us if he were to sign.
Does Villa need Samba?
As a club, Villa is not short of centre backs at the moment. James Chester and John Terry will undoubtedly play and should be seen as two of the best that the Championship have to offer this year. Nathan Baker is a solid option and somehow, Micah Richards is still a Villa player. That still leaves Tommy Elphick also, whose future remains unclear. A lot of fans understandably don’t want Richards anywhere near the starting line up. I believe he is a talented centre back, even if he hasn’t shown that for Villa yet. So where does Samba fit in?
I think it all depends on how Steve Bruce wants to set us up to start the season. There is a lot of talk about him playing three centre backs, in which case Samba would probably be a good acquisition. That would be a very defensively minded approach, though, especially with Mile Jedinak sitting in front of the defence. We would be hard to break down, though, and this kind of set up would likely allow Bruce to play two strikers.
Bruce knows best, and it’s possible that even he doesn’t know how he’s going to set us up on an opening day just yet. From the looks of Samba, he hasn’t forgotten how to play but is one veteran (Terry) centre back enough? I’m interested in watching him play again and see whether he struggles or puts in another good performance. We’re not short on depth in many positions at the moment and competition for places is good. For now, let’s all just enjoy watching the Villa play football again. It’s been far too long.