Final piece of the jigsaw, hope, optimism and the academy

It is a sort of season preview, in the season the season is nearly upon us and it is a post of optimism and hope. You see, I believe there is reason to be optimistic and hopeful as an Aston Villa fan again.

Our manager still has a bit to do to demonstrate he's capable of achieving at this level but he's not had a full season yet so I'd like to see him proving it a little this season, but I think we all have to accept it's not going to be this season that we make the type of impact that we'd all like to see. But we should see clear direction and progress.

And this might sound harsh, but it's just the reality of it. Gerrard is young and he does say the right things and well, he's been in the game long enough. And if he doesn't do it here, with essentially everything he would need, then he's not going to do it anywhere else. And if he does it here, like I wrote I think in a very early post about Gerrard, I believe he'll stay and he'll be our manager for many years to come.

I'm very hopeful because of the manager, but I'm very optimistic because of the players and ownership. We've not gone out and brought in too many players and I like that. It's almost as if the manager and owners understand we have to have a foundation.

And my optimism is founded on our academy and the quality of players coming through. We all saw the impact Ramsey had last season and he's one of a handful that could and probably will be making more regular appearances this season, probably from the bench, but then who knows what could happen.

And they need to be named. Step forward Cameron Archer, Jaden Philogene-Bidace, Tim Iroegbunam, Carney Chukwuemeka and Keinan Davis to name five and there are more. My only worry with the five mentioned is that three of them are midfields and they're going to be competing with the likes of McGinn, Ramsey, Luiz, Sanson, Buendia, Coutinho, Nakamba, Ramsey and Kamara as things stand today for a place in the starting eleven and bench. It's not going to be easy.

I also suspect we might see Keinan Davis depart and that will be disappointing, but probably good for all parties. I've been a long time fan of Keinan and it's sad when players you've watched come good leave. Disclaimer: he might not leave.

I'm adding this in after the initial post, but very soon after because I want to also mention how important I think Ashley Young can be for us this season. I'm not going to go so far as saying our best signing of the summer, but I will say maybe one of the most important.

But I'm hopeful that the manager knows the importance of bringing through our own players. Scrap that, I'm more than hopeful, because of where he came from and the opportunity he got. He will also know the benefit and importance of having homegrown players in the side, playing for the Club.

And I'm not going to list all the players we have but apart from left back, it feels to me as if there is strong competition throughout the squad and of a significant quality to believe something could happen this season, if we get everyone playing from the same playbook. And I know that's easier said than done, but that is where hope and optimism come in.

And 'something could happen', for me anyway, means we get better this season, finish higher and see glimpses of what the manager will deliver in time. We finished fourteenth last season, two wins from 9th. I think the target this season has to be to finish better than ninth and if we do that, it would be a good season.

I wrote above we were probably lacking competition in the left back position but I've just seen on Twitter that we are quite close to signing Ludwig Augustinsson from Sevilla. And don't ask me why, but this feels quite nice. I mean, if he comes he'll have a couple of familiar faces in Diego Carlos and Robin Olsen and he's not young, he's ready to play. And not that I know much about Augustinsson but I have seen him play a few times for Sweden and he's well liked here and considered a solid team player.

He is also a graduate of the Brommapojkarna academy - famous in Sweden for many reasons, but the one I like is that Olof Mellberg managed to get them promoted to the top tier a few seasons ago. Probably more impressive is that they're the largest club in Europe, with just over 200 teams and well over 3,000 players.

So if the rumour is true, the squad is complete and by that I mean, there is at least two players for every position and enough versatility in the squad to cover some extreme circumstances. And you can't play for those extreme circumstances.

So that said, with the players we have, who stars the first game and who is on the bench? It's quite an interesting question.