The Aston Villa Ten Commandments for Improvement


The Aston Villa Ten Commandments for Improvement


Bar an incredible finish to the season, Aston Villa would not have improved much on last season’s offerings. Currently the team are a point down on results in equivalent matches of last season and the same old defensive frailties of last season have started to creep back. Christian Benteke will also have to go on a rich vein of form to match his tally from last season too. So looking ahead to the summer and next season, how can Villa improve? MOMS thinks these following ten commandments should be etched out in stone to be followed… UTV

1. Thou shall loosen the purse strings

We’re not talking about Lerner dropping £20 million odd on a Darren Bent-like purchase or wasting millions on the inflated wages of average players (ala Martin O’Neill’s reign), but simply upgrading the Villa squad in the key positions (see the next commandment). Two or three quality key players would bring the improvement that Villa supporters seek at a much rapid pace. Instead of climbing snail-like up the lower half of the league, we would do exactly what Southampton have done this season. Remember, they were in the mire with us last season, but a couple of key purchases later, and the Saints are comfortably in the top half. Since the bottom half of the league isn’t anything special, it doesn’t take that much to get in the top half if you have a plan. Like Southampton, the right buys could click the rest of the team in place. After all, as Villa’s record against the current top four teams testifies, there is potential there.


2. Thou shall buy a decent midfielder

It’s getting to the point where we might have to tattoo this commandment onto Lambert’s forehead, although I get the impression he knows it by now (and the word on the street is Villa have tried to bring such a player in already) .  When we say midfielder, it can be one of two types of midfielder (if not both). For starters, you’d love an all-rounder, the often desired Steven Gerard type player. A presense in the middle of the park, which helps your defense start at midfield, a player with vision to pick a pass to open up any opposition defence, and a player with goals in his locker – from distance, from well-timed runs, or from dead balls.

Of course, these talents don’t grow on trees, so the bottom-line is a decent attacking midfielder who would help Villa in possession (when you’ve got the ball, you don’t need to defend) and provide the key to open up defences at Villa Park and provide the team with more dimension to their play.


3. Thou shall not ball watch.

The Villa defence has made inroads into improvement this season until old habits came back to haunt them in recent months. Watch any replays of goals conceded and the main cause seems to be the school boy error of ball watching; allowing the opposition to make runs unmarked into goal scoring positions. The fundamental concept of picking up your man, needs to be drilled into some of our young defenders. I mean, how was Wayne Rooney (who gets paid £300,000 because he’s good) allowed a free header from six yards out without a Villa player in sight? This is just one example of a whole collection of poor goals we’ve conceded due to defender’s attention being with the ball and not the opposition players. Better reading of the game is needed, as it undermines the back four’s undoubted effort throughout the rest of the game.


4. Thou will FINALLY sort out the fullback situation

Speaking of the defence, when are Villa going to sort out the fullback positions? In recent seasons the fullback position has been a bit of a perpetual nightmare for Villa on both flanks. It took Martin O’Neil an eternity to sign a proper right back and he also signed a couple of left backs (Nicky Shorey and Stephen Warnock) without complete satisfaction. For Paul Lambert, the fullback positions have already provided a transfer and selection circus, that has put question marks on the manager’s judgment.

At right-back, we’ve seen Hutton discarded, Lowton demoted and Bacuna trialed and questioned. While at left-back we’ve seen Lambert sign two players in Bennett and Luna, and has been so unhappy with them, the Villa boss felt he had to loan in Ryan Bertrand. I appreciate the saving on wages by avoiding signing top talents, but surely getting in three players instead kind of defeats the object of the exercise when you’re racking up comparable wage costs with three players.

Lambert needs to have a serious think this summer to sort out both flanks for good. It’s fundamental to the defence settling as a unit and also to provide an effective overload on the flanks going forward.


5. Thou shall not pick up long term injuries

In recent seasons, Villa have been afflicted with such a curse (think Bent’s injury under McLeish), frequently with the injuries coming outside of the 90 minutes of play. I mean, Villa players are even making a habit of getting injured during the pre-mattch warm-ups.

Pretty much the cornerstone of any Villa improvement this season was going to be the signing of Jores Okore in the summer, but not even a handful of games into his Villa career, he was out for the season injured. With the lynchpin of the Villa defence the injury-prone Ron Vlaar unlikely to be ever-present for a whole season (especially around Christmas time), Villa were left with Clark and Baker for cover. While both have arguably improved this season, they would have benefited from being drip fed into games, rather than thrown-in.  Should Lambert have replaced the long-term injured Dunne last season, rather than giving the responsibility to his young pair of centre backs? Luckily, it didn’t matter in the end.

Libor Kozák’s injury was also a bit of bad luck. Like Okore’s, he had shown promise in the few games he played. With Benteke going through lean spells, an extra option would have been very useful in the past few months.

Hopefully next season, Villa will get a bit more luck.

* This commandment was broken within a week with Christian Benteke picking up his serious injury.


Click on ‘Next’ for the other five commandments


  1. We need the holte end rocking to lift the team! Take a leaf out of the holmesdale fanatics at crystal palace, could easily use some of their chants!

  2. With respect to Commandment #3, the Rooney header is an excellent example of one player’s inability to stay with an attacker. Watch a replay — please ! Delph tracked Mata step for step until Mata reached a point 25 yards from the goal, then he stopped to watch the ball and various other ManU players, while Mata sped forward forcing (!) Clark to move towards Mata — leaving Rooney open. It is a classic case of Delph misunderstanding the game.

    • I’m glad I’m not the only one who notices the mistakes Delph makes, that land the team in trouble . As some seem to think that his energy to attack is all that matters

  3. Thou shalt stop playing players out of position such as Bacuna (timon) at full back when he is a promising winger and Clark as a centre back when he is a midfielder!

    • Clark a midfield ? strange then that he lead Villa reserves to a few victories @ CB a position he plays for Eire @ & for England youth in his earlier years

      • True but he also played midfield for our reservesand also when he first came into the team … Buy point taken! He hasnt improved much tho last two years and Baker looks better, but I do think hes a decent player who could play in a defensive midfield role.

  4. Most importantly Lerner, the Board of Directors & Lambert must spend some Money!!! But spend it wisely, £40 mil would suffice, a Left & Right Back, a decent Central Back to give cover for Vlaar & O’Kore. 2 Mid-fielders (1) Attacking & (1) all rounder & a Striker (Luis Suarez type)!! Easier said than done, but Lambert has been @ the Helm for nearly 2yrs, & prior to Villa, he was @ Norwich, so he should have experience, in finding quality players. #2 Start playing some attractive passing football, I’m seriously, when are We going to play some Attractive Passing Football!!! Confident Player’s play attractive football, their confident with the ball @ their feet, their confident passing the ball & receiving the ball & playing that Type of Football, Always leads to goals & Winning!! Opponents are Afraid of teams that can link passes together & move Forward!!!

  5. Extra commandment:

    Thou shall not say “I thought we were excellent”, apart from the rare occasions when it is true. – by Iain Colquhoun ( ‏@Colly1961 )

  6. Extra commandment:

    Thou shalt not wait until the 75th minute to make a substitution – by Shannon Mackenzie on Twitter ‏( @higgins091 )

  7. Extra commandment:

    Thou shall not use the phrase ‘we’ll be fine’ – by Dale Perrins on Twitter ( ‏@DalePerrins )

  8. for leadership it will be interesting to see what happens with the U21’s captain Daniel Johnson in the summer as he turns 22 in October , but he does have a year to run on his contract ! So if he is to step up surely this summer will be when it happens ?

    • As always, an interesting summer to see if young talents like Grealish and Robinson will be integrated into the first team squad more too.

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