Tough Season Ahead with Squad Depth a Real Issue

July 21, 2011 by
Filed under: Guest Blogs 

The latest instalment of Aston Villa Blog’s partnership with fellow fan site Aston Villa Life has been sent in by editor and guest blogger Matt Turvey and is based around the lack of depth in the squad and the hope that the youngsters can make the next step up.

With most of the close season focusing on the departures of two of the strongest wingers in the squad in the forms of Ashley Young and Stewart Downing, many questions have been asked of Aston Villa in terms of how the team will cope next year.

The concerns are very real and with solid foundation.  Whilst many profess that Darren Bent scored the goals that made the difference between a top half finish and a season in the Championship, there is no doubt that it was the team’s performance, combined with some late good fortune, that eventually led Villa to safety.

Whilst Young was deployed in a unusual second striker role last year, he still performed admirably hence leading to his transfer to Manchester United.  Some may say therefore that losing Young isn’t really something that would affect the wings, but the reality is that whilst Young played in a differing role for most of the season, he was still cover for both wings.

Obviously the other departure was Stewart Downing, who clearly was playing on the wing last year.  In part, Villa were fortunate to have Marc Albrighton emerge from the shadows last year, although I do have some concern that his emergence is papering over cracks a little.  Albrighton might cover the loss of one of the wingers, but not both, and the signing of N’Zogbia is far from definite at present.  Why am I concerned that we have lost two wingers?  It is just a repeat of the Barry and Milner saga, just in differing positions.

You see, Barry leaving, and being seemingly fluidly replaced by Milner, gave an impression that Barry’s sale was somewhat beneficial.  Here, it would seem, was an aging player who Manchester City were offering a comparative king’s ransom for.  Simple business really.  Take the money and run most said.

The reality is though that Barry was never replaced, and when his replacement didn’t get replaced either, then it was patently obvious which way the team was going to go, and it wasn’t upwards.

So for the past few years it has been losses in the centre of the park, and this year the losses are in the wider areas of the midfield.

We currently are enduring a legacy of former managers at present due to how the squad is composed.  Last season was a mish-mash of a year, with crises and dressing room unrest providing the unwelcome topping on the loss of Messrs Barry & Milner in the preceeding 12 months.

Losing both of those players illustrated a problem that didn’t really get fixed during the course of the year.  Looking at the squad, we were down to bare bones when the likes of Jonathon Hogg and Chris Herd had to step up to the Premier League as starters.  No other explanation beyond a dearth of quality would explain such a selection.  That statement is not meant to suggest that those players can’t become good players, but that far more was expected from them than was reasonably possible.

So when our player of the year and a former PFA Young Player of the Year leave in one season, many have a right to feel concerned, to feel upset, to feel lost.  They have a right because they saw the exploits of what happened last year in the centre of the park, and they feel it could be a case of history repeating itself on the wings.

Can Villa afford to have youngsters step up in the middle and wide areas of the midfield?  Or is it simply a case of asking for far too much from a team that needs time and experience to develop?

I am hoping for the best, but when you are having to rely on hope alone, you realise next season may be a tough one.

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2 Comments on Tough Season Ahead with Squad Depth a Real Issue

  1. james on Thu, 21st Jul 2011 10:13
  2. We could be in for a relegation battle all right. There is just not enough quality in the team. To challenge for the top 4, you need most of the first eleven to be A grade players, with a sprinkling of B graders. At the moment going through the team that could start against Fulham:

    Given B grade but going downhill
    Luke Young B grade but going down hill
    Warnock C grade. Was B grade and could be again.
    Collins. C grade. Could be B grade again
    Dunne C grade and going down hill.
    Petrov C grade and going down hill
    Delph C grade. Promising. Could be A or B grade.
    Bannen. C grade. Promising Could be A or B grade
    Albrighton. B grade. Promising. Could be A grade
    Ireland. D grade. Could be B grade again
    Bent. A grade
    Subs . Makoun C grade. Could be B grade
    Clarke. B grade. Could be A grade
    Gabby. C grade. Could be B grade again.
    Heskey D grade. Going down hill.
    Delfouneso. C grade. Could be B grade.
    Beye and some youngsters.

    This is a team that with two or three long term injuries to key players could be relegated, My prediction for the start of the season. Fulham A L 0-3, Blackburn H L O-1, Wolves H L0-1 , Everton A L 0-4 . There is a two week break then at which point Mc Leish will resign citing a lack of spending money to improve the team. Then what.? Bent will be off in the next transfer window to Chelsea and at the end of the season survival or not Clarke, Bannen and Albrighton will be cherry picked by Man Utd et al.

    This could all be changed if we spent a little money. Buy a central defender: Scott Dann? (Sell Dunn). Buy a holding/creative midfielder: Joey Barton and get N Zogbia in now. Why are we faffing over a million quid? We are behaving like Liverpool over Gareth Barry. Class all round. With those three we could finish sixth. Heres hoping.

  3. otv on Thu, 21st Jul 2011 10:24
  4. now who was it that said – “you’ll win nothing with kids……. ”


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