With nine long days until the start of the new Barclays Premier League Season, I look at our chances of building on last season’s somewhat solid end to the 2012/13 season.
Paul Lambert once again made many astute signings this summer, bringing in the likes of Helenius and Okore and many others to surely build on the mould of last season. Towards the back-end of last season the determination from the team showed and the overall commitment of every player on the pitch was also evident, showing Lambert was right to cast aside anyone with the wrong attitude.
There are many reasons to be optimistic as we head into the new season with Lambert finally putting his full stamp on the Villa line-up. So far, pre-season games have seen a higher tempo of play which led to the fantastic Jack Grealish goal in the game against Walsall with quick, fluid interchanging key to the goal. The team’s spirit seems even better than last season which will be important with so many young players in the squad. Clean sheets were few and far between last season but, if we want to build on what we witnessed last time out, we need to have more shut outs to progress even though Paul Lambert’s attitude has always been “If they score 5 we score 6” . Christian Benteke holds the key to Villa’s season: if he can score 20 plus goals and is helped on the scoring front by the rest of the cavalry, I cannot see a reason why we cannot push for a top half finish and enjoy a good cup run in either the League or FA cup.
Although the team’s average age is young, the majority of the team now have a year’s experience under their belts so they should be able to cope much better with the renowned high tempo of the Premier League. Paul Lambert can build an excellent team with the players he now has at his disposal and I firmly believe the club has turned the corner and is on course for a much more stable future under the Lambert reign, with Villa possibly challenging for European football once again in the future when some players hit peak age for performance. The mould is fantastic at Villa and with the inspiration and experience of Stiliyan Petrov in the coaching staff the stability can only help the squad on the route to a top half finish this season. If injuries do not hinder our progress, the season could be a bright one and, finally, live up to Randy Lerner’s first motto of “Proud History Bright Future”. The corner has truly been turned in my eyes and any Villa fan with any negative opinions ahead of the new season does not deserve to be watching such a exciting project unfold at Villa Park. UTV!