What a summer transfer window that was! We welcomed a new owner, a new manager, an assistant manager, a new technical director and a host of new signings.

Plenty has been said already about the need for the team to gel and how that will take time. I agree, although if that gelling could start to happen soon that would be great. I don’t want to get carried away but we are already eight points off the lead.

Now we have that really frustrating first international break of the season. In theory, it should be great to watch our countries play but, particularly if you’re an England fan, it’s not.

Infuriatingly, we have been given a taste of league football and then had it taken away from us, if only for a while.

Despite this, the break could offer the new look squad a chance to gel properly and start to put in the performances we need to climb the table.

As we entered the international break, I noticed that our new squad has a very international look about it. Including new signings, and with everyone fit, my current starting XI is made up of an Italian, a Dutchman, a Welshman, three Englishmen, a Frenchman, an Australian, a Ghanaian, a Scotsman and an Ivorian, which makes for a diverse group.

We all know this means nothing. The main thing it says to me is that this is obviously a different generation of Villans. Under O’Neill, we had a predominantly British team. Since then we have had a strong British contingent with a substantial French presence too yet this new squad seems different. With only three English players in my preferred starting XI (Elphick, Tshibola and Grealish, if you were wondering), the side has a new feel to match the change of atmosphere in the club. Having an African contingent is obviously not ideal with the African Cup of Nations coming up this season but worrying about this is pointless. Let’s just make sure we get a bucketful of points before the competition and trust that Xia et al will have plans in place to address any gaps left by players involved in the competition.

What’s more important than the variety of nationalities is the Championship experience our squad is now packed with. Elphick, Jedinak, McCormack, Gestede, Adomah, and De Laet all have experience at this level, with a number of them having experienced the joy of promotion from this league to boot.

Since the new look squad is exciting and varied. It’s easy to forget that we are still only on five points but fans must not and the players must not.

Di Matteo has the squad he has to use until at least January. The performances must follow. Over to you, you international bunch, we are counting on you to take us back to the big time.


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