I wanted to write this post because I'm going away for a few days and I think there are a few people that don't seem to grasp that we're actually in a very good place heading into the new season. And in my humble opinion, it's not as bad as some will have you believe.
But before I get to the post I want to tell you that the new owner of Aston Villa started following me on Twitter recently. After my post yesterday though, he stopped following me. I think my views about him have offended him and while I'd have hoped he was mature enough to see through or more to the point, over my opinion, apparently he isn't.
It does make me a little more worried and it does seem quite childish to stop following me, but at least he's stopped publicly instructing the CEO on Twitter, so I suppose he does learn. But his pram is bigger than mine and all that.
Anyway, that's another post and that post is getting more and more meat on it each day. This post is mostly about the manager, the squad of players we have and why it's not as bad as some will have you believe.
It's about the manager
And it's not as bad as many will have you believe because we were relegated because of bad managerial appointments which ultimately led to relegation.
Garde was a desperate mistake. Sherwood was a stupid decision. Lambert was a hopeful but naive appointment and McLeish was a dark day for Aston Villa. It goes back to 2011 and where we find ourselves is no surprise. And for those that visit regularly, you'll know this but for new visitors, this isn't hindsight.
So, if we accept that the managers have been poor and that the overall management has also been poor (look at some of those appointments), then we have to agree that it's not just the players that got us relegated and that the decision from the board and the day to day decisions from the managers, play a significant role in why we find ourselves in the Championship. So it's fair to assume that the manager will also play an important role in if we get promoted. And if you thought that, you'd be right.
And to be clear, I'm not saying that it's just about the manager, but I am saying he's the most important part of the team. So, forget about the players for a moment, it really all comes down to Di Matteo this season. But it's also worth pointing out that player wise, we're not in a bad way. Why? Remember what we all agreed on earlier; the managers were bad and to make my point; we have players that are of a Premier League and international quality.
We have a core group of players that are more then capable of playing Premier League football and with the right manager will be again next season.
But I'm going to look at them in more detail and if a player isn't mentioned below, it's because I expect them to be shipped out or sold very soon. And the sooner the better because the sooner they are gone, the sooner the impact will be felt with the current players and the entire Club.
We've got Pierluigi Gollini, Mark Bunn and Jed Steer. Three goalkeepers for a season should be more than enough and with the right management, I'm convinced we have enough quality there to get us promoted and I'd argue with anyone who disagrees, particularly because of the back four that comes next. And I think that is important, because we're a team.
The back four
We've got options here. In the middle we've got Tommy Elphick, Ciaran Clark, Nathan Baker, Jores Okore or Lescott. On the right we've got the option of Hutton, Lyden or Bacuna and on the left Bennet or Amavi with Baker as a last resort.
I want to point something out here; Hutton and Clark are both internationals, I'm told Elphick is a rock and was designed for the Championship and I'm convinced although I know not many others are that Lescott will want to show something to all Aston Villa fans this season and I believe he can be our player of the season. We've also got Amavi who will be playing left back for France later in his career.
This group of players have every reason to believe they will be able to create the best defensive unit in the Championship this season.
The five man midfield
Okay, when I write five man midfield, it's a variation of that and I suspect it will be a two-three, but that doesn't really matter. It's the players and the quality. And we have a few here, so I'm going to list them.
- Leandro Bacuna
- Idrissa Gueye
- Ashley Westwood
- Jordan Veretout
- Adama Traoré
- Gary Gardner
- Jack Grealish
- Aaron Tshibola
I don't need to write much more about the midfield because we have eight players; five that could play in the two role but also five that could play in the three role. Add to that, we've got Ayew that could drop into the three role as well as Lyden or Clark that could step up, it's a midfield more than capable and with enough experience and cover.
On the fringes we've also got André Green who I'm told looks very promising.
But, if there was one position on the pitch where I would say we could strengthen with the £50mn we've got to spend, it would be here. It would be here because I believe you put the right man in the middle of the park and it puts promotion firmly in the automatic place expectation, if they can stay fit and it turns out we have the right manager.
And for those that say we can't get the player, nobody thought at the start of last season that Leicester had the right players. Nobody. But they did and they also had the right manager. So don't start on the 'we can't attract the right players' line please because it's simply a myth that it isn't possible.
Up front we've got Ayew, Kozak, Gestede with Hepburn-Murphy and Harry McKirdy on the fringes. If Ayew can stay fit I don't think there will be that many better strikers in the Championship next season, if the manager players to his strengths. But we've also got Gestede with experience of the league and Kozak who I suspect will do quite well in the Championship given the chance.
I honestly don't think we need more strikers and I do think the likes of Hepburn-Murphy given the chance could flourish (from what I'm told). In short, we've got cover for our preferred option and cover for the second and third way of playing. What more do we need?
Looking at the players above, I don't think anyone can say we don't have the quality to put out a very strong eleven in the Championship and I'm fairly confident that if you asked most supporters of other Championship clubs, most, if not all, would have us finishing in the top six and a large number would have us down for automatic promotion. And if we play the right way this season, we've got plenty of goals from all over the pitch because again, nobody can say we don't have the quality.
The most important person
So for me and I have to stress, this is just for me, we don't need new players. Sure, that one in the middle, but that player has to be special and not just adding to the squad we already have. And that isn't something we've done for a long time. But this was the picture before we got the new owner so I wonder why he said there was £50mn for new players but it doesn't surprise me that we've not brought in more.
But, if we could get that special player and by that I mean we'd have to pay him a special wage too, it would be the icing for me. But I also don't think we need him.
It does mean that Gabby, Richards, Sinclair, Sánchez, Cissokho and Guzan have gone, but I think we'd all agree that it's probably best for them and Aston Villa.
So if we all agree that we made bad managerial appointments from 2011 onwards and we know we did, then we also have to accept that if the majority of the squad above is good enough for the Premier League and we were relegated because of the managerial appointments, that the most important person next season is Roberto Di Matteo.
And that is why it comes down to mentality and the way we play football. Di Matteo has a huge job ahead of him but I think with Steve Clarke he's got the right man to help him. In short, I think we are ready, I'm not waiting for new players and I'm looking forward to next week. But that's just me.