Villa implementing Wolves’ recruitment strategy for promotion push this season

July 30, 2018 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Aston Villa, Transfer News 

According to Alan Nixon of The Sun, Aston Villa manager Steve Bruce will have little say on the signings made this summer, with new owners Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens implementing a recruitment strategy that will see an agent work closely with the club to help facilitate the move of talented young players on a loan-to-buy policy.

The Midlands outfit have certainly taken inspiration from rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers who had agent Jorge Mendes help broker deals for a number of talented Portuguese players last season. Villa may call upon Mendes to identify and sign promising individuals that won’t break the bank. Bruce has the backing from the owners, but not when it comes to recruitment.

Previously Technical Director Steve Round was the man in charge of signing players and sell existing individuals, but he left the club this summer after a winding up order nearly came the way of the Midlands outfit. Villa nearly fell foul of Financial Fair Play after a high-spending 2016/17, resulting in them making loan deals and free transfer acquisitions the following campaign.

This summer might be more of the same, as the owners are looking for loan deals that could turn permanent at the end of the season. Promotion was the objective in 2017/18, despite the massive cuts in spending, but 2018/19 might be a different story. Jack Grealish has an uncertain future, and his exit could lead to a domino effect within the first-team squad.

There are a number of players who could follow Grealish through the exit door which would greatly hamper the Villans attempts to return to the Premier League at the third time of asking. Bruce may have left his position if he wasn’t to be given such a big compensation package for a sacking, but he may only have one more season to prove his worth before the owners make a decision.

He’s no longer having a say on recruitment, which suggests the club are paying less importance to the head coach and more on the backroom staff. The most expendable person in such a team is the manager.  If the focus will switch onto an agent or third party bringing in players, there could be a power struggle. Nixon says Bruce is still trying to push through deals for players he previously identified, but he won’t have the final decision. Such a system threatens to undermine the coach in charge and could mean an exit is coming sooner rather than later.

While good news that Villa have found some investment, the politics in the boardroom threaten to spoil any chances of a successful campaign.

Sawiris and Edens complete Aston Villa takeover

July 29, 2018 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Aston Villa 

Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens completed a successful takeover of Aston Villa, buying a controlling stake of 55%, while previous owner Tony Xia will be co-chairman and will remain on the board. The pair have each bought 27.5% of the club which costed them £30m. Sawiris has become executive chairman while Eden is co-chairman.

The pair said in a statement: “As lifelong football fans, we are excited and privileged to have become part of this great club. We believe that together we bring business and sports experience that will help strengthen the club to ensure Aston Villa can return to its rightful place in the upper echelons of English football.

“Our goal is to bring sustainable success to the club, building on its rich history while respecting its loyal fan base and unique culture. We understand that we are stewards of Aston Villa on behalf of the fans and we take that responsibility seriously. We (will) undertake a thorough assessment and evaluation in the coming weeks. Our priority is to strengthen ahead of the upcoming season.”

The company behind the takeover is a jointly-owned venture called NSWE, comprise of the initials of both businessmen. It’s believed they will immediately inject capital into the club, meaning Villa’s financial problems could be coming to an end. Manager Steve Bruce has had their backing to remain in charge, ending any speculation over his immediate future.

Who are the new owners?

Sawiris is a 57-year-old businessman who is executive chairman for the NNS Group – an investment company – who are a large shareholder in US Private Equity firm Bruins Sports Capital and Adidas AG, of whom the Egyptian and Belgian citizen is on the board of. Most importantly, Sawiris is CEO of a £4.7m Dutch listed global Nitrogen fertiliser and industrial chemicals producer.

As for Edens, the 56-year-old is co-founder and co-CEO of Fortress Investment Group, founded in 1998 with £395m. Wes helped grow the business to £31.27bn AUM as of March 31, 2018. He became co-owner of the Milwaukee Bucks basketball franchise in 2014 and created eSports franchise, FlyQuest, in 2017.  The pair have been highly successful in their past business ventures and Villa fans will be hoping the trend continues during their time in the Midlands.

The good news is that the club’s long-term future looks a little brighter thanks to the investment from Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens, but it’s certainly worrying having seen Keith Wyness sacked, Steve Round depart the club and Tony Xia still be co-chairman despite his actions almost putting Villa out of business. Hopefully the takeover will see a turnaround in fortunes.

Steve Bruce to stay on as Aston Villa manager

July 26, 2018 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Aston Villa, Villa Manager 

Aston Villa released a statement confirming Steve Bruce would be staying on as manager, after rumours the Villans were considering replacing him with Belgium assistant manager Thierry Henry. Bruce held talks with majority owners Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens and received their support for the new season.

Reaction has been mixed from supporters, as some believe a change in coach was necessary after last season’s failure while others suggest backing Bruce was the sensible decision. After Villa’s investment from Dr Tony Xia ran out this summer, the Midlands club haven’t managed to make a signing, so having the manager stay in charge who knows the players makes sense.

Backing Bruce over appointing Henry is wise

Bruce has come under a lot of criticism after failing to lead Villa to promotion last season. Despite getting the side to the Championship playoff final, questions have been asked why they missed out on a place in the automatic promotion spots given how strong their squad was.

Villa spent more than £70m in 2016/17 and had to curb their spending in 2017/18 to comply with Financial Fair Play regulations. Despite this, they came within 90 minutes of returning to the Premier League, but many people want Bruce’s head after he failed.

However, why would Thierry Henry be a better fit? The Belgium assistant is a relative novice in terms of coaching who has no experience of the Football League. Bruce has won promotion to the Premier League four times with two different clubs. He’s failed to deliver his remit but could have more success with another shot at it and would fare better than Henry, no?

Playing style needs improvement

With Sawiris and Edens backing Bruce, the Villa manager now needs to justify the decision. Fans have taken aim at the 57-year-old for the club’s poor playing style in the last 12 months, with Villa opting for a direct style that isn’t easy on the eye – no Championship side made more crosses last season.

Playing too forward too quickly and bypassing the midfield drew the ire of many fans. Despite having players such as Jack Grealish, Henri Lansbury, Robert Snodgrass and Conor Hourihane last season, Villa’s build-up play was predictable and direct.

An experienced manager like Bruce has to tidy up their play if they want to stand a chance of being promoted. He’s likely to be in charge for another year but could lose his job if 2018/19 turns out to be a failed campaign.