Tim Sherwood has quickly gone about clearing out the decks at Aston Villa FC. Darrent Bent, Enda Stevens, Andi Weimann, Yacouba Sylla and Matty Lowton have all departed, all with good will from the fans and varying degrees of success in a Villa shirt.
Those five departures are apparently just the start. ‘The Birmingham Mail’ reporters believe that Sherwood still wants to offload Aly Cissokho, Carles Gil and Philippe Senderos and, if replacements can be sourced, Alan Hutton and Brad Guzan can also depart. Wholesale changes look likely. It is a brave and perhaps necessary step to make wholesale squad changes but, like many, I certainly think Gil is worthy of a place in the squad and I also think the others would do as squad players.
One of those squad players I feel can do a job and who has been largely forgotten about is Philippe Senderos. The Swiss defender arrived in B6 last summer on a free transfer from Fulham and supporters were largely underwhelmed by the signing. The former Arsenal man came with a reputation of being pretty suspect but it was clear that another experienced – and cheap – centre half was needed to back up the injury-prone Vlaar, with Baker and Clark unable to play together and Okore returning from a long-term injury.
Senderos actually started the season alongside Vlaar and impressed, fresh from his third World Cup with Switzerland. The Villans kept three clean sheets in their first four games of 2014-2015 and some supporters began to eat humble pie. Senderos was proving to be a good organiser and complemented Vlaar and then Baker when the Dutchman picked up his inevitable first injury of the campaign. After a good start, injury then struck Senderos. Bar a late substitute appearance at West Ham in early November, we did not see Senderos again after an injury picked up when not fully fit on international duty ruined his season.
It is obviously very difficult to speculate on our incoming transfer activity, as we are all waiting to see what level of spending Sherwood will be afforded under impending new owners. Micah Richards has arrived, seemingly to take Ron Vlaar’s place in the squad, leaving us with five players who can competently play at centre half. We defintely need five centre halves in our squad: many times last season, despite having five in the squad, the managers were picking from two or three of them as central defenders for Aston Villa appeared to be made of glass.
Senderos may have been largely forgotten about but he actually did a good job for us in the games he appeared in last campaign. Are we going to find a better centre half who is willing to be fourth or fifth choice? I don’t think so. If we sign another centre back then letting Senderos leave makes sense. If we don’t – and I’m not sure whether Sherwood thinks one is a priority – then Senderos should stay. He’s got international and Champions League expierience and is a vocal organiser. We don’t have many players with those facets in our squad. I’m not saying Senderos is the best player in the world but as a rotation option is he the worst player to have around? I’m not sure there is a centre back in our under twenty-one side or youth ranks who is ready to play in the Premier League; Janoi Donacien received less than stellar reviews during his time on loan at Tranmere.
If his injury problems are behind him then I’d like to think Sherwood will use pre-season to make an informed decision on the big defender. Our manager clearly wants a complete overhaul of our squad and deserves to have his opinion respected but I do not think he will be able to sell everyone he wants to in one summer so players our manager doesn’t want long-term may still have a part to play in 2015-2016. Senderos could be one of them.
Micah Richards may end up spending time at right back and nobody knows how the former Manchester City man will do for us at centre half, despite someone of his pedigree being an astute signing.
It is difficult to work out the transfer landscape at Aston Villa at this time so it is difficult to think about how the Villans will line up for the new campaign. One thing I will wager is that at least one of the players mentioned as being surplus to requirements will appear in a Villa shirt at some point during 2015-2016. Will Senderos be one of them?