Follow us on Twitter @claretandview // Words by Jake Evans (@jakeevans_11)
Every year, as Big Ben chimes on the hour and Westminster is lit up by a carnival of red, white and blue fireworks, millions of men, women and children- all over the country- will rise as one with hope, optimism and determination coursing through their veins.
Because the Transfer Window is finally open!
Whether it’s the result of four months of agony watching their side concede goals with every opposition attack; half a season of frustration as crosses fly across the face of the goal with nobody there to convert what is surely their team’s first three points of the season, or a Christmas full of misplaced passes and hopelessly timed tackles from their central-midfielder, every football fan in the country counts down the seconds to midnight on New Year’s Eve- not with the intention of welcoming in the New Year- but with every intention of refreshing your club’s Twitter feed every half an hour, desperately seeking the news that the man who will save your season has finally arrived at the club.
This January, the circumstances are slightly different for Aston Villa. Just five points off of an automatic promotion spot after a season riddled with injuries to many key players, Villa have an established team with fantastic competition for every position on the pitch. That being said, there are still some vulnerabilities in our side, and before we can become a team to be reckoned with once more, these flaws need to be ironed out.
Many people have different opinions on what our best line-up is. Therefore, I am going to put a theoretical team sheet below, consisting of what I believe to be our best starting XI, injuries not included.
Elmohamady — Terry — Chester — Hutton
Jedinak — Hourihane
Snodgrass — Grealish — Adomah
The back four, with the likes of James Bree, Chris Samba, Tommy Elphick, Ritchie De Laet and Neil Taylor waiting in the wings seems to be well stocked. The same can be said for the attacking positions, with Andre Green, Scott Hogan, Keinan Davis, Josh Onomah and Callum O’Hare all very capable replacements. Henri Lansbury, Birkir Bjarnason and Aaron Tshibola offer good cover for the former Barnsley captain Conor Hourihane- but there are still two positions that need to be shored up… and they are two positions that could make-or break-our entire season.
Much has been said about Sam Johnstone’s future at the club, with Dr Tony Xia pouring scorn over claims from The Mirror that West Bromwich Albion wanted to sign the 24 year old as a replacement for second-string goalkeeper Boaz Myhill, after Manchester United reportedly accepted bid of £4,000,000for the Englishman. Although this rumour has now been quashed, it does highlight the possibility of other more attractive Premier League clubs making offers for the loanee, and that is why it is crucial that Villa make his move permanent this January. With reports that Bournemouth are interested in Henri Lansbury, now could well be the time to start cashing in on some players in order to raise the funds to beat the FFP regulations and make Sam Johnstone an Aston Villa player.
There is no subtle way to put this. Since arriving in B6, former Stoke City fan favourite Glenn Whelan has been in shockingly bad form for the Claret and Blues in my opinion, making numerous mistakes and failing to protect the back four in the manner that the manager would expect. Since Jedinak has replaced him, Villa have looked much steadier – scoring 7 and conceding 0 goals- and the opposition is now finding it difficult to break us down. However, Mile Jedinak is 33 years of age. His pace is not what is once was, he is far more susceptible to injury, and it is inconceivable that he will be able to play in every game. Although we have a talented young defensive midfielder in Jake Doyle-Hayes, it is unlikely that he is ready to step up to the plate at such a crucial time in our club’s existence, and so surely Steve Bruce has to look at bringing in a player that he can trust to do the job. Step forward a prime candidate…
Now, now. No need to look so excited…
The reasoning behind this transfer is very straightforward. Time and again, the out-of-favour West Bromwich Albion man has shown that he can do a very good job at Premier League level, and the 30 year old’s contract expires in June 2018 which would allow Villa to swoop in and sign him on a cut-price deal. It is unlikely that Alan Pardew will ask in excess of around £3,000,000 for a player that he wants off of the books at The Hawthorns- so should Villa take full advantage?
A lot has been made of the FFP restrictions that Villa find themselves under at the moment, which means that we will have to, in the words of Steve Bruce, “box clever” for the third consecutive transfer window. If Villa were to sign the two players aforementioned in this article, it would likely cost us around £7,000,000- putting us £5,000,000 in the red when considering FFP regulations. Therefore, we are going to have to sell some players. Bournemouth have reportedly shown a passing interest in Henri Lansbury, and would be prepared to make on offer of £4,000,000 for him. Theoretically speaking, this would mean that Villa would need to raise an additional £1,000,000. This could be achieved by selling the likes of Micah Richards and Ross McCormack this New Year. Although it is unknown if there are any clubs with an interest in these players, it is known that, in their own right, both footballers are players who would likely prove a coup for any suitor, either here in England or abroad.
Who do you think we need to sign in this transfer window? What do you think of the business we have suggested? And will this transfer window be one to enjoy, or one to forget for the Villa faithful? Let us know!