Steve Bruce faces a crucial summer. It’s become apparent that the Villa coach will be expected to raise funds by selling dead wood. Is this a realistic approach when so many of the players are undesirable propositions on high wages? Villa has nearly 70 professionals on their books. While they’re still enjoying parachute payments, they need to plan for a sustainable future. Is an Aston Villa clear-out likely to happen?
By Adam Doyle
Splashing the cash
Randy Lerner eventually sold the club last summer. One underwhelming season after another ended in the American businessman selling the club at a loss. Dr Tony Xia, a Chinese business magnate, took over the club and stated that his aim was to win the Champions League. He backed up this new positive approach by spending massively in the summer.
Villa had a net spend that far exceeded any other Championship club. Roberto Di Matteo’s signings seemed to be a little all over the place, but Villa fans were excited. Expectations were high. Kodjia and McCormack were both signed to give the club firepower. Both were guaranteed goal scorers at this level. Only one has worked out. While there were promising players brought in, the summer window can now be described as ‘underwhelming’. That word never leaves the club.
The target for Di Matteo last summer was to bounce back immediately. This was reflected in the summer investment. Xia didn’t want to wait around in the second tier. After a sluggish start that saw Villa concede a succession of last minute goals, Di Matteo was fired. Steve Bruce was brought in to steady the job and did a decent job overall of getting Villa to a mid-table finish.
Promotion will be target again this year. The difference will be in the investment strategy this summer. It’s clear the club needs to move players on before buying replacements. This even includes faces that were only brought in last year. Look no further than Ross McCormack. Fulham let their star striker depart and it clearly did them no harm. The striker appeared to have an attitude problem and was sent out on loan by Bruce in January. The question now is whether a club will want to sign a 30-year-old striker with an ego and very high wages?
Gabby for President
He’s been around Villa Park so long now that he will surely become the President/CEO of Villa one day. In all seriousness, perhaps the case of Abonglahor typifies the club’s problem. He hasn’t been performing at a high level for a number of seasons now but still has a long-term lucrative contract. Who is going to sign a player that relies solely on pace, but is getting older and has injury problems?
Lescott shows there is hope
No other player summed up Villa’s problems last year than Joleon Lescott. The defender was disastrous on and off the pitch. Responding to criticism of the team, he tweeted a picture of his sports care (a pocket tweet, apparently, if such a thing is possible). Villa managed to offload the defender to Greece which shows their could be hope this summer.
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Photo by Chris.,
Photo by Chris.,