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Having signed Ahmed Elmohamady and now Stoke City’s Glenn Whelan from the Premier League, Aston Villa are finally making inroads in the transfer market in order to attempt to secure a promotion back to the Premier League.
How is their squad looking though? They still have the most valuable squad in the division, though in their case, they carried a lot of players with Premier League reputations, therefore the inflated price tags.
In reality, close rivals Middlesbrough and Wolves probably have more impressive looking squads right now so there is more work to do, with manager Steve Bruce seemingly intent on bringing in older players with lots of Premier League experience.
That tactic can go one of two ways; they will either hugely outclass their opposition or they will realise that they are buying players who are on the down slope and will carry on regressing as the season progresses, essentially making Villa a little bit worse as each month goes by.
There’s no doubting the credentials of Whelan, Elmohamady and John Terry on paper. However, typically, teams who have been promoted automatically from this league have had forward-thinking managers happy to use young, fast and hungry players.
Think of Anthony Knockaert, Lewis Dunk, Aaron Mooy, Tom Smith, Dwight Gayle and Jamaal Lascelles and it conjures images which are so far removed from the above mentioned Villa signings, not to mention Micah Richards, Alan Hutton, Mile Jedinak and of course, the legendary Ross McCormack!
Don’t get me wrong. These players could be vital to Villa in terms of their experience but no matter how many Premier League titles and Champions Leagues you may have won, if a 21-year-old flying machine who is on the up gets going, you are not catching him for love nor money.
Villa not only need to recognise this from a defensive point of view, but should do everything they can to ensure they have their own young forward talent capable of improving to Premier League level. Sone Aluko, Helder Costa, Britt Assombalonga, Sheyi Ojo, Ryan Kent and many more have been available at various times and if Villa are the sort of club Bruce says they are, they would have been able to attract them.
Bruce labelled Villa as the ‘big draw’ and the ‘team that everyone wants to beat’ last season despite the presence of Newcastle. Those are big claims but he is slowly putting together a Dads Army high on natural talent, short on pace and time.