11 o’clock last night brought this season’s summer transfer window, which saw Premier League clubs collectively spending more than £1 billion on signings for the first time, to a close. At Aston Villa, records were also broken while the manager completed an almost full clear out of the dead wood that brought us down in the first place. Dr Tony Xia, Keith Wyness and Roberto Di Matteo have shown the fans that they mean business and want to fight to get this club back to the Premier League.
Despite huge amounts of money being spent by Aston Villa during this window, including up to £15 million on the Championship’s most expensive transfer ever in Jonathan Kodjia, Kieran Richardson, Brad Guzan, Idrissa Gueye, Jordan Veretout, Carles Gil, Joleon Lescott, Ciaran Clark, Charles N’Zogbia, Joe Bennett, Carlos Sánchez, Scott Sinclair, José Ángel Crespo, Jores Okore, Adama Traoré and Callum Robinson have all left the club either permanently or on loan. From last season, the likes of Guzan, Lescott and Richardson could be considered as the worst players to play for Villa and, ultimately, helped the club go down. To remove them from the wage bill is very good business on our part and shows we are moving away from the Lerner era and stepping into Dr Xia’s. In terms of departures, I feel this window has to be considered a success.
Letting this number of players leave the club meant we needed to recruit as well. I wasn’t impressed by the business we did last season. It seemed as if Tim Sherwood and Tom Fox just spent millions without really thinking what the team would be like once it was completed and how hard it would be for a number of their acquisitions to adapt to the English game. This window, we have done something different: we have recruited players from the Championship, many of whom have experienced the joy of promotion with their previous clubs. Players like Mile Jedinak, who is also experienced in the Premier League, will be comfortable when we return to the top flight. Apart from Pierluigi Gollini, all of the players have come from English clubs, which should help to avoid the communication issues that were talked about so frequently last season. On paper, the transfers coming into the club can also be considered a success.
The hard work Dr Tony Xia and Keith Wyness have done this summer to create a new look Villa squad seems to have potential. Whether it will be enough to fight for promotion this season is something only time will tell. Once we have a fully fit squad, I think we will be very strong. The defence, the midfield and attacking areas have all been strengthened by exciting, experienced players and, hopefully, despite what happened last season, Roberto Di Matteo will be able to get these players to work as a team and achieve their claret and blue mission.
I think we have been left a little short. We will see about Gollini but we have capable reserve options at this level. I believe the defence is sorted. I like the starting CM pairing – Jedi and Tish – but feel we are short after that with only Westy (cover for Jedi for me) and no high energy replacement/option for Tish. Disappointingly, I don’t believe Gardner is going to cut it for us and I don’t rate Bacuna as a midfielder. I would have looked to keep Veretout if we weren’t bringing in replacements. The next three (for me I would play a 4-2-3-1) is interesting – personally I would be looking at Jack at no. 10 with Ayew and Adomah either side, but then we only have Green as back up unless Gabby comes back into the fold. I haven’t seen enough of McCormack but to me he is a second striker and not a no. 10. I don’t like a straight 4-4-2 as it leaves a big gap between CM and the strikers unless McCormack can fill that gap and drop in as Weimann did so well against Liverpool a few years back when we murdered them at Anfield. We now have lots of interesting striker options and some real firepower. Its going to be interesting!!