Tony Xia Plots More Measured Approach Than Last Season


The main overhaul of the Aston Villa squad has been done. The last two transfer windows saw a startling spend for a Championship team and one that Villa owner Tony Xia couldn’t and wouldn’t want to repeat.

The big question now is are the foundations built by last season’s player purchases strong enough to bring success by just adding the two or three tweaks the club want to make this summer?

As Villa CEO Keith Wyness and Xia have hinted repeatedly towards the end of the season, including the Villa owners recent tweet (below), there will be no big spending this summer.

In terms of squad building, the job is largely done. It’s now time to mould the players we have into a team and hopefully add a few slithers of quality to provide more spark.

Of course, based on the performances of last season there is a lot to do in terms of getting this collection of players playing as a cohesive unit, but hopefully having more time together and familiarity will help.


The practicality of the situation is though, Villa have to play the cards they have in their hand, rather than twisting again. On paper at least, they clearly have one of the best squad of players available in the Championship. Yes, they need to ship out the last of the bad influences and the players that still haven’t worked and ultimately hold us back (the usual suspects).

As we’ve discussed many times before on MOMS, Financial Fair Play (FFP) makes it difficult to simply go on spending in the Championship. Last season, Villa did a decent job of selling on the bulk of the failed Premier League squad and they also had their main parachute payment to help balance the out-goings, facilitating the ‘living within your means’ that FFP demands.


The headache that Xia refers to, would be a symptom of not getting promoted next season. Without the income of Premier League TV rights money and the diminishing size of parachute payments, Villa will have to increasingly lean on the side of caution. Failure to go up will leave the club increasingly compromised in terms of spending.

But trying to spend your way out of the Championship is no model for success anyway, as this season demonstrated. It’s one thing collecting the best individual players of the division, but if you have no team or system, it’s pointless. Nobody expected Villa to finish 13th after such a spend in the 2016/17 season.

New Wisdom

When Xia looks at the balance sheet simply in the context of the league table last season, his first season very much comes across as burning money.


If Xia wanted to take a positive from the negative of last season though, learning to be smarter is something it would certainly have helped with.

Now the Villa owner repeatedly preaches patience on social media. It’s not exactly new found caution that Xia is demonstrating, but rather common sense.

Last season was certainly a learning curve to the practicalities of English football for Xia. The early bravado and fantasy of talking about Champions League football and aiming to be a top three club in the world has been replaced by increased pragmatism.

The ambition and enthusiasm still burns bright, but now he has a better idea of the business of promotion.


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  1. how anyone can see sacking Bruce is an answer to a financial crisis is beyond me. I like Harry Potter stories, but they are the only place where people disappear at the touch of a wand. Sacking managers costs money, and there is no money to spend, so no decent manager would come in. Or is Graham Turner still available for peanuts?

    The manager did not sign the cheques, Xia did. So if Bruce cannot buy players because the club overspent, its not his fault. Why should he be happy with that?

    THe club has been badly run for years. We sacked 3 managers the season we went down. So how come people still think sacking the manager is a solution?

    Trevor Fisher

    • Although Bruce has signed a bunch of players and they havent been spectacular. The best of the binch being the on loan goalie who may or may not return. I wouldn’t fire Bruce however despite his lack of success RDM arguably signed better players. I believe Bruce’s players to be good signings, but he has to get a good shift out of them!

  2. This just makes sense, if Steve Bruce isn’t happy they should get rid because he is as basic as bar nuts and will use it all season as an excuse

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