Aston Villa are now in the thick of preseason friendlies ahead of the 2018-2019 season. After definitive wins over Telford, Walsall and a draw against Kidderminster, there seems to be just a shred of optimism coming from Aston Villa supporters among downtrodden news stories and depressing rumours every other day. The performances of Conor Hourihane, Jonathan Kodjia and even often forgotten Ritchie De Laet have the supporters talking in a positive fashion and for good reasons.
One player that should be getting more attention is one that Villa fans aren’t too familiar with but recognise the name. For the casual Villa supporter, goalkeeper Jed Steer only seems to pop during preseason friendlies and early season Cup ties. While that isn’t necessarily a false statement, if there was a time to see what Steer could do between the sticks, it surely has to be now.
Villa fans were rubbed the wrong way when fan favourite Sam Johnstone signed with West Brom earlier in the summer. Johnstone was no doubt a big part of a strong season for Aston Villa last campaign, but fret not Villa supporters. There’s a few things that have to be said about Johnstone’s absence and the emergence of Jed Steer in regards to what may be ahead for Aston Villa.
Johnstone joined West Brom on a 4-year deal which was for an undisclosed fee. The former Manchester United keeper was loaned out an astonishing ten times while being a Red Devil. While Johnstone will be in the memories of Aston Villa supporters in a positive light, losing out on signing Johnstone on a permanent deal is not as grim as some supporters would like to believe.
In relation to what Johnstone is worth on the transfer market added to his talent as a player, there is something to be said about where Johnstone ultimately found himself this summer. If Johnstone was such a ‘world class keeper’ as a smattering of Claret & Blue faithful would like to consider him, why did he sign with West Brom? No disrespect to the Albion, on this matter anyway, but it is a question that needs to be asked. The financial blight at Villa that has been exposed over the past two months would indicate that they never had a shot in the dark of landing Johnstone on a permanent deal after failing to gain promotion to the Premier League last season. The conclusion of Johnstone’s signing with West Brom shouldn’t sting as much considering how highly Villa supporters thought about his talent level. Johnstone didn’t sign with a Liverpool, or a Spurs, or even a mid-table Premier League team. He signed with a newly relegated squad who featured three different managers during the season and even looked more like a League One team at times.
Jed Steer Should Grab This Opportunity With Both Hands
These are just some of the reasons why Villa supporters should be welcoming Jed Steer into the first team setup at Aston Villa with open arms and an open mind. It is very well known that Steer suffered a dislocated shoulder injury last year, but through the preseason stages so far this summer, he looks as if that injury is long behind him. Through two preseason games, Steer has looked very comfortable between the sticks for Aston Villa. The thing about Steer that has stood out over the past two years when in the Aston Villa squad is his ability to distribute the ball quickly and efficiently. Through aggressive long throws or pin-point goal-kicks, Steer has a little something extra in his locker in that department. In some of the friendlies, he’s been keen to distribute from the back with just a rolled ball.
Adding to his distribution ability is also a showing of being able to command his area during corners and free kicks. Steer has been seen communicating with his defenders often during the two preseason games he has featured in against Walsall and Telford. One could make the rebuttal that those two teams aren’t exactly the toughest opposition he will face this season, but he looked lively and concentrated in moments where a few of his defenders had untimely mental lapses.
There was a pattern of play late in the Telford friendly that saw Steer make two consecutive saves back-to-back in the span of less than five seconds. The athletic ability of the 25-year old doesn’t need to be questioned after seeing something like that. It was an absolutely amazing play by Steer and it isn’t the only time he has done such a thing while wearing an Aston Villa jersey.
The desire is there. The heart is there. The tactical awareness is there. Is there any better time to see Jed Steer as the number one Villa goalkeeper than right now? All signs point to ‘no’.
Words by Mark Jirobe (@VillaMarkPGH) // Follow us on Twitter @claretandview