The Big Question: Are Aston Villa Better than Last Season?

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Fitness and Style

Benteke’s departure has been a hammer blow, but the improved depth and quality of the squad may allow the whole team to share the goalscoring burden. Villa’s tactics have been far too one-dimensional and reliant on the big Belgian scoring over the last few seasons. Such dependence is a recipe for disaster. and is one of the reasons Villa have struggled in recent seasons when Benteke was injured. With the new recruits Sherwood has much more varied options capable of contributing to all phases of play, starting with Amavi and co at the back, right through to Veretout, Sinclair, and the strikers.

The injury list going into the season only has minor injury concerns, other than the recovering Jores Okore, who himself will add some defensive quality when he returns later this year.

Sherwood talked last year about players not being anywhere near fit enough when he arrived and the difference by the end of the season was noticeable (FA Cup excluded). With a full Sherwood preseason the players should have an added edge when compared to Lambert’s strugglers.

Sherwood will also go into the season with a good batch of his own players and team selection can now be made on merit and form, and not simply necessity,

Choose the Right Stats

All sorts of stats have been rolled out by pre season Villa detractors, but the majority of these stats come from Paul Lambert’s time in charge and improved dramatically upon Sherwood’s arrival. For all his strengths and faults, Sherwood at least deserves to be judged on his own actions and not those who have gone before. He has predominantly done well so far.

To those who point to the disastrous outing in the FA Cup final against Arsenal, I point at the players who will start this season. Sherwood promised those not up to the task would go and he is doing a good job at clearing out dead wood and bringing in players who are clearly both talented and very hungry. Mistakes will be made but it’s encouraging to see Villa learning from them for a change.

Many of us worried that Sherwood’s first transfer window as a manager would herald nothing but Spurs rejects, but that has not been the case. He has quietly and successfully gone about his business and recruited good players.

What the Fox said

We all hoped that Lerner would be gone and that a new owner would come in and inject money into the club. It didn’t happen and we were stuck with the half-hearted American, but things are at least looking somewhat more dynamic and optimist.

Since having his fingers burnt with Martin O’Neill, Lerner had clearly lost interest and had stopped investing adequately in the squad as a result. Whether or not Tom Fox’s claim that Lerner is interested again is true, he certainly seems to be putting more into protecting or improving his investment. Proper transfer money (thanks to the Benteke sale) is being invested for the first time in years.

In addition to hiring Tom Fox as Chief Executive, Lerner has installed Hendrik Almstadt as sporting director. Regardless of how involved the American gets there are now structures in place to run the club without him.

Fox has stated that current plans at Villa “are designed to take us to a place where we are competing in a higher position within the league and domestic cups.” Hopefully this proves to be true. If Villa can have a decent season, building on their FA Cup run last season, it will make the club more attractive to buyers and Lerner will gain his sought after exit.

It’s not ideal, but it’s a healthier structure than the start of the last few seasons. Already there has been rumoured interest since Villa’s considerable summer recruitment drive. We live in hope.

I’m not naive enough to expect Villa to have an easy season or perform miracles and the new players will take time to bed in, but with the current reshuffled squad it’s looking more likely that disaster may not be inevitable. Remember there is also a good three weeks of the transfer window left too.

There is perhaps a deficiency of real leadership but new captain Richards and recent signings may surprise us in that department, not to mention Sherwood himself. Vlaar and Delph can be replaced and while Benteke will be missed, the squad as a whole looks much stronger, well-rounded, and ambitious going into this season than the last and that’s reason enough to be optimistic.

Are Aston Villa Better than Last Season? They have to be.


Follow Finn on Twitter – @FinnMongey

Follow MOMS on Twitter – @oldmansaid


  1. Been great to see the words Vlaar, Delph and spine used in the same sentence. Who’s spineless now ?
    And Benteke’s easier to wind up than a ginger bluenose.

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