Natural leader Tommy Elphick has captained Aston Villa in the past, and should be given the armband again in the absence of James Chester and Alan Hutton.
Words by Mark Jirobe (@VillaMarkPGH)
If there’s one thing that Aston Villa could do with at the moment, it’s a bit of stability.
Let’s face it. Results haven’t gone Villa’s way for a long while now. Villa players are seeming to pick up knocks on a bi-weekly basis. Teamwork has been at a visible standstill, heightened only by manager Dean Smith’s own words after the latest draw at 1-all draw against Stoke City: “I thought there needed to be more composure all over the pitch in the first half – from both sides,” said Smith. “I can accept mistakes, they happen in every walk of life. But I told my players I wanted a reaction and they showed me that in the second half. We moved the ball quicker, with less touches and more intensity. That’s an encouraging sign for me.”
If Dean Smith truly wants his side to have even a bit more composure in all facets of their game, it would only be wise to appoint Tommy Elphick as captain in the absence of James Chester and Alan Hutton. It would be a show of intent to Elphick that Dean Smith is in fact not Steve Bruce, and that Smith believes in Elphick at the heart of the Aston Villa defence through trust and not necessity.
Elphick has been extraordinarily vocal since his return from Hull City on loan. Some may still argue that Elphick should have never been sent away to The Tigers on loan under Steve Bruce and those supporters would probably be right.
Elphick has certainly been saying the right things in the media lately. At the beginning of February, the 31-year old made sure he wasn’t having any of the ‘one man team’ rhetoric that seems to be making the papers about Aston Villa: “We can’t be a club that just relies on Jack Grealish. That’s unfair on him and it’s not a way to build a team. As good as Jack is, we need to come up with different solutions when the likes of Jack and Tammy (Abraham) might not be available. This manager (Dean Smith) comes with a structure and a plan that maybe needs a little bit of time to get it where he wants it and, given that time, the club long-term will definitely be able to sustain itself as a top Premier League club again.”
Villa supporters shouted and applauded Elphick for taking such a steadfast stance to current matters at the club. Elphick’s words really pulled at the heartstrings that so many Villa supporters possess. It goes without saying that Villa supporters love Jack Grealish, alas it was about time one of the more experienced Aston Villa players publicly addressed the notion that without Grealish, Villa are nothing special.
A few weeks later, Elphick found himself as a favoured wordsmith once again in the media. This time, one sentence he said carried the weight of the whole of Birmingham:
“There are different people in different situations at the moment and I think if we all realised that Aston Villa in the top six is beneficial to everyone, we will start winning games.”
Translation: “Some players know they probably won’t be returning next year, including myself, but this is a soft reminder that I will put my boot in your ass if you don’t perform for this great club.”
No one is having a great time in an Aston Villa shirt at the moment. But when you have an experienced and vocal centreback like Elphick in the ranks, added with injuries, added with a multitude of players up on contract in the summer, added with a new manager that is yearning for a certain style of play…it only makes sense to toss the armband to him.
Not even Elphick knows if he will be an Aston Villa player past the summer, but allowing him to become captain in the absence of others could be an audition of sorts in terms of playing for a new contract.