Well, Tim Sherwood’s first transfer window has closed and it’s fair to say he has been very active.
At the beginning of Sherwood’s maiden window we were treated to the tedious links to players from Tottenham Hotspur and to any youth player Tim Sherwood had ever laid eyes on. What we have got from the transfer window is more than any Villa fan could have bargained for. We have an almost completely new side. Our manager has certainly gone all out in his reconstruction of Aston Villa Football Club.
Twelve players have arrived in B6 permanently, with Tiago Illori completing a loan move from Liverpool with a view to a permanent move. Thirteen players have departed, with another five leaving Villa on loan.
I am chuffed with what Tim Sherwood has done and equally pleased to have Tim Sherwood as our manager. Being slightly greedy, I am a little disappointed that we didn’t get a striker in on deadline day. Charlie Austin would have been perfect for us, in my opinion, but the fact he has stayed at QPR tells me that something is not right, as surely some club should have taken one of last season’s Premier League stars on. My slight disappointment in not getting a goal-getter in will be tempered if Libor Kozak gets a chance. I believe in him and I believe he could get goals in this Villa side.
Now that the transfer window has shut, I can look at how we have tried to replace our best player and biggest goal threat in Christian Benteke. The club officials did well this summer to stick to their guns and the £32.5 million price we got for Benteke was a brilliant one. I think he is worth every penny but many expected us to cave and sell him at a cheaper price. We didn’t. I always thought it would take two strikers to replace Benteke and it looks like Rudy Gestede and Jordan Ayew are the men Sherwood has plumped for, with Libor Kozak and Gabby Agbonlahor the other main strikers in the squad.
Gestede got off to a flying start but fans have not been impressed with him in the games that followed the A.F.C. Bournemouth one. I actually think he got better as the game went on against Sunderland and I think he will prove a good signing. He had some neat touches and was involved in some clever link up play on Saturday so when he gets up to full fitness he will be an asset.
Jordan Ayew seems, ridiculously, to have been written off at this very early stage of his Aston Villa career. I find the criticism baffling. He hasn’t set the world alight as yet but, as with most players coming from different countries, it will take time for him to adapt to a new league. Unsurprisingly, he is being compared to his brother Andre at Swansea City. It is worth noting that Andre is three years older than Jordan and has come to the Premier League as a much more experienced and more established player. The fact that he has also joined a more settled team in Swansea is obviously going to help him. It is no wonder that he has made the better start of the Ayew brothers. Jordan needs time.
Andi Weimann moved to Derby County. I always liked Weimann but a move was definitely for the best, for the sake of his career. He had regressed and was completely misused over the last few seasons at Villa Park. I wish him well.
In midfield, the less said about Fabian Delph leaving the better. Losing Delph and Cleverley in the middle left Sherwood with a lot of work to do in terms of transfers, however. I feel Sherwood has acted wisely. Idrissa Gana looks built for the Premier League and I have no doubt that he will become a top Premier League midfielder. Jordan Veretout has replaced Cleverley and once he settles I believe he will also be a good addition to the squad. He has a touch of Yohan Cabaye about him and if he can be half as good then we have a great player on our books.
Scott Sinclair was signed on a permanent basis and he has really shown his worth with five goals in two games. For £2.5 million, signing him permanently was a no-brainer and I really think settling down at a club will aid him.
Adama Traore has arrived to play on the opposite wing and he looks like a precocious talent. Pace matched with power is something that has been missing from Villa teams in recent years and Adama Traore offers both in abundance. FC Barcelona having a buy-back option in the first three years of his contract is obviously a worry but if the clause is triggered we know that we will have had a player who has done magnificent things for Aston Villa.
It is also worth noting that this window saw Carles Gil remain a Villan. After being dropped by Sherwood last campaign, many felt that Gil would be sold and that the club would lose a really good talent. I for one am delighted that he is still here and it was good to see him on the pitch on Saturday. I don’t think he will play every game but he will be an important member of the squad. There hasn’t been much craft to watch at Villa Park in recent seasons. With Gil, Grealish and Traore, we now have some dangerous, skilful players who will excite fans.
The defensive rebuild saw former skipper Ron Vlaar replaced with new captain Micah Richards. The early signs with Richards are positive and hopefully he will grow to become the leader of this team. I’m shocked more teams weren’t in for Micah Richards, as on a free transfer he is a real coup.
Nathan Baker left the club on loan to show whether he is “durable” enough to play a whole season while Joleon Lescott arrived from our noisy neighbours on a two-year contract. Lescott will battle it out with Ciaran Clark for a place next to Micah Richards. I’m happy with the Lescott signing as it weakens our rivals and strengthens our own squad. We really do have good competition for places in most areas now.
Tiago Illori has joined as another defensive option and he is a player who can play across the back four. I don’t know too much about him other than that he was highly rated when he joined Liverpool. It is probably sensible to draft another centre half in as Okore is returning from a big operation and Senderos is seemingly unfancied by Sherwood. If last season showed us anything it’s that the Villans can never have too many centre backs: all five we had last season were needed.
Jose Angel Crespo has also arrived and he is another player I don’t know too much about. While he is versatile, I presume he has been purchased to play at right back, challenging Bacuna and Hutton, so we now have competition for this position too.
Jordan Amavi has arrived and slotted in at left back. He looks like an absolute superstar and one of the signings of the summer in the Premier League. He is another coup and credit is due to to Paddy Reilly for his identification of talent from abroad, particularly France. Left back has been a problematic position for us for an age but it is no longer an issue.
Shay Given signed for Stoke City and was replaced by Mark Bunn, who will serve as back-up for Brad Guzan. I believe Sherwood would have replaced Guzan if he could have, as I’m really not sure our manager rates the Amercian goalkeeper. The pursuit of Begović was futile but I think Sherwood realised he could not replace everyone in one window. Guzan is adequate for a season and Sherwood has shown that he is planning for the future by signing eighteen-year-old goalkeeper Matija Sarkic from Anderlecht on a three-year deal.
Tim Sherwood deserves huge credit for what he has done this summer. Of course, the proof will be in the pudding but I am feeling positive and admire his work during the summer window. Despite the fact that we should have won on Saturday, I left Villa Park feeling happy. We attacked and had a real go. The players Sherwood has signed are only going to get better. There may be frustrations while people bed in and there will be mistakes and bad results but I am convinced that we are in a much better place now.
Another goal-scorer would have been handy, although I think there will be goals in this team. For so long the problems at Aston Villa have been creativity and service. I now believe we have the players to play between the lines and create chances. It remains to be seen whether we have the striking personnel to put those chances away. Berbatov may yet arrive and I’d welcome him: he is another flair player who, crucially, knows where the goal is.
I refuse to entertain fans who are down on the team or Sherwood after this window. A rebuild was required and, despite losing our two best players, I think that Tim Sherwood has made the squad a lot stronger. Genuine competition for places exsits – and that can only help us. Another problem at Villa was that players knew their places were safe under Lambert, McLeish and even O’Neill. That is definitely no longer the case.
Players have been purchased, the dead wood sold and key players tied to new long term contracts. This was a window of opportunity and Sherwood has not disappointed.