I don’t like Tony Pulis and I don’t particularly like West Bromwich Albion but I would like to thank the club and its manager for allowing us to make a superb signing in James Chester.
There were a few raised eyebrows across the footballing world when Aston Villa Football Club was allowed to come in and take James Chester away from the Hawthorns.
Chester joined Villa following a superb Euro 2016 tournament with Wales. He never really featured under Tony Pulis last season and that strikes me as utterly bizarre.
Pulis is known for being one of the most astute men in the business when it comes to organising his defence so I would have thought that keeping Chester was pivotal for him this summer. Clearly, it wasn’t since Pulis allowed him to join Aston Villa.
Since joining Aston Villa, Chester has been a revelation and has continued his good form from the summer tournament. He oozes the hallmarks of a top defender at this level.
The twenty-seven-year-old has fitted into the Villa side with ease. Alongside Nathan Baker in particular, he has looked solid and comfortable in a Villa shirt.
We had a rocky patch under Roberto Di Matteo but James Chester still looked above a step above others when it came to his performances. You’d be forgiven for thinking that he was the captain rather than Tommy Elphick when they played together. In Elphick’s absence, Chester now has the armband.
Since the days of Olof Mellberg and Martin Laursen, we have lacked a classy centre back who stepped up to the mark on a consistent basis. So many have tried and failed, including Ron Vlaar, Joleon Lescott and Ciaran Clark. These players, amongst others, failed to fill the big boots of classy centre backs of old.
With James Chester, it is hard for me not to get ahead of myself and envisage a Laursen-esque status for him. He plays for the shirt and fights like a lion, something that Keith Wyness has tried to instill with the constant reminders on Twitter.
Chester will always be one of the first names on the team sheet as the best centre half we have at the club but there is the predicament of who starts alongside him. Tommy Elphick is coming back from injury and has had a tough start to the season. Meanwhile, Nathan Baker has come in to replace the captain, thankfully looking nothing like the calamitous player we sent on loan last season.
Against Birmingham City, Chester did everything I expected in the big game. His ability to cover and to read situations are undeniably traits we have missed for a long time.
I thank Tony Pulis for his idiotic decision to cash in on James Chester. He let his best centre back go and made Aston Villa’s defence much stronger in the process.
It’s perhaps premature to say our defence looks solid but I believe that is more down to the midfield protection than the actual back four itself.
In my opinion, Tommy Elphick doesn’t deserve to get back into this side. A settled defence will more than likely give us the consistency we need to put in a strong promotion push. There is nothing wrong with healthy competition and that is what we seemingly have now.
I sincerely hope that I am not jumping the gun on Chester but, based on his performances so far, I firmly believe that he is already one of our signings of the season.