After a long protracted period of ‘will he, want he’, Manchester United keeper Sam Johnstone returns to Aston Villa on a season-long loan.
It had been hoped that Bruce would convince the 24-year-old to sign on a permanent basis, but it seems United want to have one long look at him in first team action, during Villa’s forthcoming Championship campaign, to see if he has a future with the Red Devils.
Johnstone’s United contract runs until June 2018, but there is the option to extend for a further year.
That’s all well and good for Manchester United, but what about Villa’s long-term planning?
The season-loan of the keeper, coupled with the fact Villa have signed John Terry, in what is the swan-song season of his career, will see Villa ok for next season, but facing another rebuild to the spine of the defence the following season.
If Villa are promoted this coming season, then it could be argued that they would be rebuilding anyway, although it would have been nice to have some winning continuity.
Still, in terms of Johnstone, who had a shaky start to his time at Villa last season, surely Villa would be wise in seeking an upgrade on Mark Bunn to provide both competition and proper back-up to Johnstone.
Promotion is the mission next season and there no chances can be taken.
While Johnstone, who will take the No.1 jersey, showed himself to be a capable keeper, once his confidence grew, can Villa bank on him?
Last season, Roberto Di Matteo’s signing of another previous Manchester United youth team keeper, Pierluigi Gollini, despite the advice of Villa scouting reports, cost Villa valuable points that ultimately lost Di Matteo his job.
A better calibre and experienced keeper (good enough to be a number two in the Premier League, too) to act as an insurance policy, would certainly make Villa supporters happier going into the new season.
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