Villa Learning to Punch Down and an Ugly January Transfer Window?

The Good, Bad and Ugly of the January Transfer Window

Nothing like a good deadline day to rile up the Aston Villa fans online and some would say that was nothing like a good deadline day. Was it good, bad or ugly though?

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The Good

What a cracking away win against Southampton that was for Aston Villa in their last outing. Despite the media consensus that they were lucky, Villa’s overall performance earned the luck of the correct refereeing decisions on the day.

Villa played the better football, had their own big chances and generally dominated play except for a couple of Southampton moves.

Bearing in mind Southampton seemed to have turned a corner with progress in both cups that included a win against Manchester City, this was a pleasing league double over the Saints.

With a game against Leicester City coming up, a Villa team that can dispatch teams beneath them would be a significant sign of progress moving forward. It’s about time Villa punched down.

Villan of the Week – Emiliano Martinez

Without Martinez in between the sticks, Villa would have lost the game against Southampton, despite all the good outfield work.

Villa fans have already seen the exit from both cups when the Argentinian was absent, he is crucial to Aston Villa’s hopes of a top-half finish.

The Bad

In all honesty, it wasn’t a great January transfer window. While not the doomsday scenario some fans on Twitter would have you believe, there is no doubt that the squad is weaker than before the window.

The sale of Danny Ings to West Ham and no experienced replacement, has left Villa short up top. While Ings wasn’t a perfect fit, any injury to Ollie Watkins, such as against Brighton away this season, Ings was a more than capable replacement.

The decision, was a financially sound one, as with the amortisation of transfer fees, Villa have basically made their money back on Ings.

The fee split over the length of the contract means Ings was sold for approximately the money his transfer fee was worth on Villa’s profit and loss sheet, that’s before wages make it an even more attractive financial call.

So a sensible decision? Ask again in May.

Of course, goals are worth money and Ings was also Villa’s top goalscorer in the league, so to maintain squad strength, he needed to be replaced with someone similar.

The problem is, how do you replace an experienced finisher, who was happy to strike from the bench and start when called upon? I think that’s where your options narrow significantly.

How many forwards are going to sign for Villa, knowing they are the second choice to Watkins and be as professional as Danny Ings was? I’d say none, so if you make the decision to let him go, you aren’t getting the same replacement.

Instead, Villa signed potential in Jhon Duran, a raw, 19-year-old from the MLS.

He will be ok with being on the bench, but unless he hits the ground running, his output won’t be as lethal as Ings’ was.

Aston Villa just have to hope that the business decision to let go of Ings doesn’t turn out to be a bad one.

Further sales on Villa shirts & training gear below

The Ugly

Every transfer window comes and goes and causes pandemonium among supporter bases. January 2023 seemed to cause more disruption in the Villa ranks than normal.

The club still spent around £30 Million on two players in Alex Moreno and the aforementioned Duran. It’s a decent chunk of change for a team who have an already expensively assembled squad, that severely underperformed under the previous managers.

So why was there the trademark Twitter meltdown of Villa fans over the rumoured targets?

This scenario is not exclusive to Villa but is a common theme among online football fans. They all seem to want shiny new players in positions where they aren’t really needed, and build themselves into a frenzy buying into the rumours.

From a personal point of view, in ascending order of importance, the ideal missing links were a more reliable backup keeper, a left-winger and a forward happy to sit on the bench as the understudy.

Those are the weakest areas of the squad in personnel, yet many were asking for central defenders and midfielders.

Aston Villa aren’t Chelsea they can’t afford to have so many players that they cannot register them all for competitions.

Would fans be happy to replace Jacob Ramsey in the squad, or Douglas Luiz when both are playing well? A player not contributing is a waste of wages.

The reality is a team sitting 11th in the league and out of both cups, can’t attract the quality of signings in the January window that they need.

Enter Bertrand Traore.

It wasn’t long ago that Traore was one of the highlights on a match day. He was a frustrating enigma at times but had moments of skill that, honestly many players couldn’t produce.

The deceptively simple drag back against Everton, the cool finish versus West Brom and the goals against Chelsea and Manchester United, the season before last, are all memorable.

An injury at the start of last season and then the arrival of Steven Gerrard and his ‘no winger’ policy meant that Traore was just forgotten and cast aside.

All the money spent on Traore’s transfer and wages, was seemingly wasted for no reason, so why wouldn’t Aston Villa call him back to plug a gap in the squad, if they couldn’t land their desired targets? Rather than dropping another £20 million on a second-choice winger?

It’s a move that makes sense, but unfortunately, it won’t be enough to stop the ugly reactions online. Hopefully, we get to see a few more moments of magic from Traore before the season’s end.


Follow Phil on Twitter here – @prsgame