Aston Villa gave their supporters a Bank Holiday Monday to remember by finally securing promotion back to the Premier League after three years in the wilderness. It is important that Villa build on our current squad, rather than rebuild.
With reality just about starting to sink in after a heady day at Wembley, the magnitude of the achievement and what it means for the club is still difficult to comprehend.
The outlook for this club now is so bright. The outlook wouldn’t look this bright in UK Casinos after a big win. We are at a pivotal stage of our history. We essentially have a blank canvas to work from and with incredible opportunities to create something special.
The immediate plus points are of course the financial gains. The Playoff final is said to be worth £170 million to the winner. Finally, after what seems an eternity, Villa does not have to worry about cash flow issues.
On top of this, the Financial Fair Play restrictions that have tied our hands are now gone, to an extent. This also means that we should finally get to see some of the monetary muscle that Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens’ possess.
Villa has, of course, frittered money away before. Which is why this is such a crucial period for the club. Despite the wealth that we now find ourselves swimming in, we have to learn from mistakes from previous years. We cannot be the boy in the sweetshop again and have no control.
Reinforcements will be needed. But we should also avoid the massive overhaul that Fulham decided upon last year. We have some good players at the club already. Most betting websites will fancy us to do a Fulham so we must prove them wrong.
Jed Steer and Lovre Kalinic can battle out a number one spot between them for example. I see no need to strengthen here particularly.
In midfield, John McGinn and Jack Grealish are ready-made to show what they can do in the Premier League. I would also be keen to see how Conor Hourihane gets on with stepping up in class and he has certainly earned his chance to do so.
Tyrone Mings deserves to have his loan move made permanent. As does Anwar El Ghazi in my opinion. Hopefully deals for these guys can be wrapped up pretty quickly.
I would also love to be able to extend Axel Tuanzebe’s stay at Villa Park. But he, and other loanee Tammy Abraham may be unavailable due to their parent clubs wanting to now retain them.
Others already at the club who can certainly contribute at Premier League level include a fit-again James Chester as well as the enigmatic Jonathan Kodjia. Ahmed Elmohamady also has vital experience of the division and has earned his chance to step up again.
It’s also worth remembering that Villa will be welcoming right back Frederic Guilbert, signed in January from Ligue 1 outfit Caen.
My point is that Villa could already have a nucleus of good players at the club; having vast fortunes available to us does not mean we need to spend it all in an attempt to decimate the current group of players.
Another rebuild is not required
Villa does not need to rebuild. We should be looking to complement and strengthen. But it is exciting to know that we are in such a great position to be able to add some real quality rather than having to scrimp around in the bargain basement.
However, all that said, Villa will need to bring in bodies due to a long list of current players due to depart when their contract expires this summer. For me, Villa is in a great situation here and having the luxury of deciding whether they want to retain the services of so many individuals. For so long we have had players sat at the club on big contracts and not earning their wages. Finally, we appear to be in a situation to trim off any excess and free up wages elsewhere. Ross McCormack being a notable exception, unfortunately.
Glenn Whelan and Mile Jedinak are the big hitters here and it remains to be seen whether Smith fancies keeping either of them on. Ritchie De Laet will certainly be off the books though, and it looks like Alan Hutton will finally have met his match too.
Tommy Elphick could also find himself looking for a new club. Whilst it will be interesting to see whether we take up a year’s option on Albert Adomah. Perhaps best of all, Micah Richard’s lucrative contract also comes to an end after four long years.
Premier League Contribution
The club will need to assess whether those players on the fringes can still make a contribution at Premier League level. Perhaps one or two on short contracts may not be a bad idea. As I’ve said, completely gutting a team can have disastrous effects. Elphick could be a decent cover for us still in my opinion and perhaps Whelan has done enough since the turn of the year to also avoid having to find a new club.
Whatever happens though, it’s certainly exciting times for Villa at last. We are definitely in a great position to go and create a squad that is capable of not just surviving in the Premier League but making serious inroads into pushing towards a top 10 finish.
The possibilities are all there for us at this moment in time. Doors that have been closed for three years are suddenly back open and it’s going to be an exciting summer, hopefully with some incredible talent joining the club and complimenting what is already an exciting a vibrant group of players.