Rumours were rife last night that Ki Sung-Yueng could potentially be a transfer target for Aston Villa Football Club, which made me think about why the Villans may actually have a decent season coming up.
I had a look at the squad and thought to myself that, on paper, we do actually have squad depth.
We also have players in the squad who can play in various positions:
Vlaar (SW, CB)
Clark (CB, LB, CDM),
Bennett (LB, LM, LW)
Richardson (LB, LM, LW, CM)
Bacuna (RB, LM, RM, CM)
Cole (LM, CM, RM, FL)
Agbonlahor (LM, FL, ST)
Weimann (RM, FR, ST)
The list goes on. The best thing about the depth is that we should be able to adapt when different situations arise on the pitch. Paul Lambert is a manager who has shown, at times, that he can make a change when something is not working during games, particularly against West Brom last season when we were trailing and his changes helped us secure the win. Of course, on the flip side, there have been games when we desperately needed a change to try and put the game back in our favour, only for Lambert to wait for too long to make a change, meaning there was then not enough time for the player to make an impact. However, we have got to remember that he is still learning and isn’t the complete package as a manager.
Love him or hate him, Lambert is not going anywhere so we have got to put our personal opinions of him to one side and support the team. He does look like he is backtracking on his ‘young and hungry players only’ strategy by signing more experienced players this window in Cole, Senderos and Richardson so he is looking to find that balanced blend of youth and experience to improve Villa’s fortunes – albeit on a budget. I sincerely hope that this season the balance will be evident and that fans start seeing the team playing some good football.
I was particularly excited by the Ki Sung-Yueng link last night. This is a player who I saw quite a lot of as Sunderland were on television frequently near the end of last season. As I watched the games, Ki Sung-Yueng stood out for Sunderland. I actually hoped that we would try and sign him but knew it might be a bit far-fetched with our transfer budget being seemingly minimal and that we wouldn’t be an attractive prospect for some players because of the struggles the club has faced in the last two seasons. We can dream!
We are now being linked to him and I really hope we can sign him. He could be the difference between finishing in the lower half of the table and fighting for a much higher position. Strong in the tackle and excellent on the ball, he is a player who could absolutely thrive by playing in a three with Fabian Delph and Ashley Westwood. All three players are very good on the ball and, if they click, we could be able to play a more possession-based game instead of playing one-dimensional football. As well as having the ability to keep the ball well, he also likes to dribble and push the team forward. At times, he was also used in a more defensive role: sometimes he would sit deep in his own half to pick the ball up from the defenders and keep things tidy in the middle of the park, which is similar to the role Westwood plays for us.
I don’t want to get my hopes up because at the end of the day it is just speculation at this point and may well amount to nothing.
If we don’t get Ki, I’m sure Lambert will explore other options and hopefully he will be able to buy players he believes can do a job for us. Our team is already stronger than last season and will look better still when all our player come back from injury and are match fit. The return of players like Jores Okore and Charles N’Zogbia will be like having new signings as N’Zogbia didn’t feature at all and we saw very little of Okore because of injury last season.
Factoring in the new signings, we’ve added experience to the squad. Some old faces have also returned to the club, with Alan Hutton and Darren Bent training with the first team again. Although their futures may still lie elsewhere, if they don’t leave then we will have more options on the bench, which is beneficial for the squad as they can be impact players.
Waiting in the wings are players like Gary Gardner, Samir Carrathurs and Jack Grealish, who should all be pushing for places in the first team. Although the fans have known about them for a long time, many are hopeful it’s time for these three to step up and prove themselves, fulfilling their untapped potential.
We are now one month away from the start of the new Premier League season and, as the World Cup is over, the focus of our fans will now come back to Villa. Despite rumbling rumours, there is no evidence to suggest that the club will be sold soon. Randy Lerner is correct in stating that now the focus must be on preparing for the coming season.
Strap yourself in folks: I have got a feeling it’s going to be another roller-coaster ride! Hopefully, there will be more highs than lows.