Tim Sherwood promised to get rid of the losing mentality at the club and now that the transfer window is closed, I'm going to take a look at his new signings.
We’ve got four points from four games having played a promoted team, a relegation candidate, a potential top four side and a mid-table certainty. As Damian wrote, nothing much on the points front has changed, so have Villa got the right players to kick on up the table?
IN: Joleon Lescott, Jordan Amavi, Micah Richards, Tigao Ilori, Jose Angel Crespo.
OUT: Ron Vlaar, Nathan Baker (loan), Joe Bennett (loan) Matt Lowton, Antonio Luna, Enda Stevens.
A new look backline under Sherwood to try and shore up a defence that at times had the same strength as wet cardboard. Jordan Amavi is an early fans favourite; quick, good control and eager to get forward. He looks like the best left back purchase Villa have made in years, and we’ve made enough of those. However, two errors in the last two games have cost Villa and serve a timely reminder that he is new to the league and a young player. If he learns, he will go straight to the hearts of the Claret and Blue faithful.
Micah Richards having been made captain by Sherwood has added experience to the back line. I have a feeling his best is still yet to come. He likes to bring the ball out of defence, probably a throw back to his full back days. Interesting to see if he partners Clark or new boy Joleon Lescott in the coming weeks. Deadline day mover Thiago Ilori will provide competition and is allegedly a speedy centre back, some Liverpool fans seem very upset they didn’t keep him so watch this space.
A new contract for Bacuna seems to confirm he is TS’s first choice right back and Jose Angel Crespo will add competition but little to say about him as he limped off injured in pre-season.
Meanwhile Villa lost Ron Vlaar who certainly had his moments but never actually played enough games, Antonio Luna who faded out quickly after a bright start and Matt Lowton who fell down the pecking order under Sherwood.
IN: Idrissa Gueye, Jordan Veretout, Scott Sinclair (permanent after loan).
OUT: Fabian Delph, Yacouba Sylla, Tom C (returned after loan), Aleksandar Tonev.
So let’s be clear, we lost a great midfielder but a pretty disappointing person in Delph. Tom C chose Everton after a good tail end of the season for Villa under Sherwood. So how have Villa done to fill those gaps?
Idrissa Gana Gueye is improving with each game, and looking more composed on the ball. Early signs were mixed with too many stray passes and too much possession being conceded but against Sunderland he showed that he could be an ideal replacement for Delph. A big season beckons if he improves at this rate.
Jordan Veretout was thrust straight into the starting line-up and much like Ayew he was lauded on social media but has yet to show what he can do. It’s clear there’s talent there but another youngster who will need time. With Sanchez, Westwood and Gana playing well in midfield, he will find it tough to break in.
Scott Sinclair is improving game on game and while he was dropped against Palace he answered his critics by playing his way back into the game with a hat trick against Notts County and a brace against Sunderland. Might be one of the first names on the team-sheet now. Listed as a midfielder but playing as an attacker under Sherwood.
Meanwhile Grealish picked up where he left off last season with a bright display against Palace and Notts County. Sanchez seems to finally be showing the form that make him such an asset to his international team. Gil has struggled with injuries but had a promising pre-season and will undoubtedly get a chance to show what he can do.
The front line of attack
OUT: Christian Benteke, Darren Bent, Andreas Weimann, Niklas Helenius
IN: Rudy Gestede, Jordan Ayew, Adama Traoré
After three years, it was time to part with the beast who left with dignity and fond memories. It was always going to be impossible for Villa to replace him with one player.
In Rudy Gestede, early signs were promising as a the impact at Bournemouth from the big man announced him to the fans. Since then though, he’s struggled. He has tirelessly jumped, knocked down and leaped but without ever really threatening. He will need to up his game to retain a starting berth.
As for Jordan Ayew, did we buy the wrong brother? A quiet, understated start saw him dropped from the starting line-up against Palace. I personally thought he was much improved in the second half against Manchester United. His chance will surely come again with a higher chance of him getting involved if Sherwood reverts to two up top and Gabby’s indifferent form continues.
So onto the mighty Adama Traoré, the signing everyone has been talking about who’s first action was to announce himself by gliding past two Crystal Palace players to force an own goal and Villa back into the game. Too early to make any judgements but he could be the signing to get defenders quaking in their boots.
The early season question has to be around goals. Do we have enough in the team? Sherwood will be hoping to see the midfield chip in with more goals this season but the jury is out at the moment. A deadline day transfer for another striker never materialised so the manager will have to work with what he’s got until January.
On top of this, in goal we lost Shay Given who had been a great servant of the club but on high wages and brought in Mark Bunn to provide competition for a sometimes complacent Guzan but little has been seen of Bunn so far.
So where does this leave us? We have lost individual talent but replaced it with better overall squad strength. It’s a squad I’m excited about and want to do well. My only concern? Without that bit of magic that Benteke provided, we might struggle for goals. Over to you Adama.