The Missing Links and Needs of the Aston Villa Team.

By Chris Budd

So the dust has settled on an eventful, yet uninspiring season for the Villa faithful, falling significantly short in the cup final two weeks ago, against Arsenal and the boring defeat to Burnley probably were a fitting snapshot of how most of the season felt. All be it a really sad way for some of our players to realistically end their time at Villa in such a disappointment.

In some ways we find ourselves in a similar position that Ron Atkinson (post Venglos) and Brian Little (Post Atkinson) found themselves in, they inherited jaded sides and kept them up, but then needed to have a complete overhaul before building strong sides that challenged.

In today’s financial climate with more clubs fuelled by TV money and players demanding ridiculous wages, that rebuild job is all the more tougher nowadays though.

Mass exodus? Revolving door? Whatever you want to call it….it will be a summer of change at Villa Park…



What now?

The term “limbo” has become a rather annoyingly overused phrase to describe the Villa for far too long now. Since the departure of O’Neill, we’ve seen one or two signings pay off but on the whole, a squad full of mediocre lower division dross arrive and either underachieve or unfortunately, achieve about the level they really are at (which is worse)

You may call this a “Villa shopping brief” as I have no idea names wise who’d Sherwood actually want in (no, he’s not going to be after Emmanuel Adebayor) . Who knows, it might not even be Sherwood calling the shots, if a new owner comes into town and appoints a new manager, when the transfer window opens for business.

The breakdown of what is missing at our club makes for rather grim and more importantly expensive reading, it’s certainly time for our scouts to dust off their passports and earn their money.

Lets start from the top down.


Not strictly a signing but the biggest missing link is at the top. The short and medium term future of the club will be decided soon if Mr Lerner can find a suitable candidate to buy the club. We’re led to believe things are finally moving on that front. Someone ambitious who can win over the fans would help, ideally with good financial backing for Sherwood, although the financial fair play rules will curb any crazy spending.

Just turning up to matches would be a start and appreciating the supporters (especially the away fans) would be a start.

Naming Rights 

If you look at what teams like Sunderland and Hull spent last season; to still be in the position they were, it proves money doesn’t guarantee success (or safety). As MOMS reported previously, naming rights certainly could come into the equation with any new ownership.



Revolving door

With Bent, Cleverley, Stevens and a bunch of youngsters already out the door, who will join them? The likelihood of Benteke going is getting greater and greater and with Vlaar looking likely to move on that’s three integral part of the team already gone. With Lowton, Cissokho, Weimann a safe bet to join them, along with probably Joe Cole and Senderos, the squad will suddenly be a bit threadbare.

The reality being that villa need quality AND quantity now. There are far too many average players sat in our squad who bring nothing to the team when given a chance.

Squad Upgrade

Sherwood seems up for fast-tracking the youngsters and that is a great thing, but at some point we are going to need to bring in some genuine quality at this level. The stark reality is, that for where the club feels it should be and where the fans would aspire for the team to be, we fall well short in so many positions.

We can look closely at teams like Everton, Southampton and Swansea (who I was very impressed with when they came to Villa Park), they don’t have teams full of superstar names but they seem to have built teams in a clever way and scouted/recruited well….why can’t Villa do the same?


The spine of our team gets its own section. Quite simply the table doesn’t lie, we finished 17th so people saying we have the spine of a good side are off the mark.

Our spine has been inconsistent and that’s why our season went as it did.

  • Do we need a solid goalkeeper? YES
  • Do we need two solid centre halves? YES
  • Do we need ideally two quality midfielders? YES
  • DO we need to keep or get a goalscorer and a provider? YES


Click to the next page for a look at Villa’s Goalkeeper, Defence, Midfield and Forward needs



  1. A good guide to what Villa need to do – start again would seem to be the overall theme with regards to the defence. We also suffer in midfield with the Cup Final revealing just how inept our players are at keeping the ball under pressure. They have very poor close control. Liverpool stood off and let them play and they did, Arsenal pushed up on to them and they couldn’t cope. It is a lack of technique. Imagine an Arsenal player, or indeed a Barcelona player not having instant control of the football – they wouldn’t get a game – yet Villa play them week in week out.

    Two full backs, a quality centre half, two technically savvy midfielders, a pair of fast and tricky attacking forwards/wingers, and a striker. It is some shopping list.

    With regards to Ron Vlaar being slow – his legs aren’t – it is just his head that is. Disagree? Youtube and search Vlaar outpace Hazard. The video shows it is not his legs that are slow. The sooner he is gone the better.

  2. If we want to fnish higher than 17th, we need wholesale changes. The truth hurts but we are simply not good enough.

    Keep Guzan

    The defence – keep Clark, Baker and Hutton.

    The midfield – keep Delph, Grealish, Sinclair (why didn’t he play in the…? never mind) – I hope Gardner gets a chance.

    The attack – if we can keep Benteke, great. If not sell and invest in the rest of the squad.

    That’s a total of 9 players who I would definitely keep. You could also argue for Bacuna, Gabby, Kozak, Westwood and Okore who would be kept for different reasons or sold if something better came along.

    New players? Robertson, Phillips, Austin, Trippier, Onuoha….yes, I know – all from relegated teams but at the end of the cliche, we have to leave it to Tim.

  3. Goalkeeper – I don’t consider there to be an issue, Guzan is a good number 1, Given is really good cover although not the same level as he use to be and Steer shown some decent ability after a nervy start at Burnley.

    Right Back – I don’t consider Bacuna to be a RB, he was a RW before Lambert changed him and that is where I still see him, Hutton can do a job, Lowton likewise although it is likely he will leave. Richards incoming would be a welcome addition.

    Center Back – Clark for me is our first choice CB. Vlaar for me has to leave, he has made too many mistakes this season including saying he deserves “better” than us. Senderos should either be fifth choice or sold. Baker and Okore should be fighting to get the second CB spot. I believe we need one more recruit in this area although off the top of my head I am not sure who.

    Left Back – For me this is our weakest area and has been for far too long. Richardson has showed development under Sherwood but still has a way to go imo, Bennett is not good enough and Cissokho can do a job. I would like to see someone come in for this position maybe Luke Shaw on loan with an option to buy or Jetro Willems from PSV?

    Central Midfield – Westwood and Sanchez need to improve and one needs to really nail down that CDM spot. Delph would be an instant starter for me. Gardner needs to show this season he is good enough or go. With Cleverley commiting his future to Everton we need to replace him and find another player who can partner Delph in the box to box role.

    Attacking Midfield / Wide Midfield – Sinclair is good, Grealish is showing signs of real potential, Gil has shown ability although seems to be on his way out, N’Zogbia needs to be on his way out he has just never been good enough and more often than not goes missing in games. Another addition is needed especially if Sherwood has intentions of changing from the narrow 4-3-1-2 or 4-3-2-1 that has been employed over the last year. I would say going for someone like Georginio Wijnaldum from PSV would be a great move although I am not sure how much he would cost at current as a player who plays CM for Holland (1 Goal every 9 Games) and CF/ST for his club (1 Goal every 3 Games)

    Striker – I hope Benteke stays in an attacking team under Sherwood who will play to his strengths he could get 25 goals next season if he stays fit. Agbonlahor is still terrifying for his pace. Kozak needs to hit the ground running next season after a lengthy injury. Robinson has potential. With Bent & Burke already gone and Weimann looking to be on the way out I would like to see reinforcements as with exception of Benteke it is hard to see the others getting 10 in a season and he needs support/ replacing. Charlie Austin would be first choice for me, he plays at his best with a target and could really link up well with Benteke and has an eye for goal. I would also like to see one Gestede or Rhodes from Backburn as cover especially if one of Kozak or Benteke does leave.

  4. i just think your a little harsh on a lot of the players,,, and we are not aiming for europe next season
    we need a season under sherwood where he can try and build a team and blood some youth
    and try and loiter around the mid table allowing sherwood to experiment and allow the kids game time
    in easier conditions

    the basis of a good side are there,,, personaly i think the 3 young center backs and vlaar are more than ok
    clarke baker and okore will get better,,, they really improved last season but when there form dipped they could not be rested due to injuries,, vlaar too was rushed back too soon on two occasions and although great in some games he gave away a few stupid mistakes mostly in his comeback games

    if he stays he will be very valuable,,, if fit that is,,,,,

    i think the problems lie in midfield,, delph is a great player, grealish will be a great player,, but sanchez and westwood both need to create and score more if we are to progress as a team

    it may well be bacuna and gardner get time in midfield but i still think we need both height and presence where westwood plays
    westwood could play where cleverly played too,, westwood could also improve this coming season
    he is experianced now and needs to step up a level,, i hope its his season
    but fer and philips from qpr would be good signings

    up front robinson will replace winegum in the squad,, and we pray benteke stays

    to me the areas we really need to bring in quality are the full backs ,, left back being a priority if we are to loose cissoko,,
    bacuna would get better as would richardson but you always feel we need better if we are to get higher up the table

    so i am optimistic,, but then i have been since sherwood took over,, and despite the really disappointing end to the season we played some very good football under sherwood,, and if we can stop the silly mistakes and beef up midfield we will be more than ok next season

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