Going into the 2018/19 season, Aston Villa are in the strange position of missing four player numbers from the first XI traditional shirt numberings of 1 to 11. Is it the sign of the times, with players preferring silly numbers? Or does it suggest there are some holes that need to be filled before the transfer deadline?
MOMS remembers a few seasons ago when Villa started the season without a number ‘9’. Considering the tradition at Villa with the symbolic centre-forward number, it seemed like sacrilege. Although, considering Scott Hogan’s injury record, you could argue Villa are still missing a proper number ‘9’.
At least the new Aston Villa captain for the season, Jame Chester, announced today by Steve Bruce, keeps and wears a proper number in ‘5’.
What’s more odd than not having a number ‘9’? Well, probably not having a number ‘1’. Being the number one at your club has long been a badge of honour for a goalkeeper. There’s something symbolic about Villa not having one going into this season, as it’s a position that doesn’t inspire confidence at the moment.
Steer – injury and mistake prone – is a decent enough keeper, but lacks the statue to command his box. Mark Bunn has always proven to be a third choice keeper and will never be considered a starter at the top level. While new boy Andrea Moreira is untested in English football. Fingers-crossed though, that the Portuguese keeper comes up trumps.
Maybe there is another keeper to come though…
Number ‘4’ is also untaken. If I was Birkir Bjarnason, I would have taken the number to hopefully have some kind of psychological influence on Bruce in getting picked as Villa’s starting defensive midfielder. It’s worth a try… After all, Villa need to improve on last season and having a less defensive and more mobile midfield is a start.
No number ‘7’ – maybe it’s left open for Robert Snodgrass, in case they can get him to return. Or, in this age of fans calling any old player a legend on social media, maybe the number ‘7’ shirt has been retired to honour of Snodgrass’s loan season at Villa!
No number ’11’. The traditional left-wing shirt number is also missing alongside the traditional right-wing number ‘7’. It’s reflective of the fact that Villa don’t play with traditional pacy wide men. Hopefully, Andre Green can do something about the left-hand side this season.
Last season, playing with players (Adomah and Snodgrass) that lacked pace and preferred to cut inside onto their favoured foot, sometimes led to Villa struggling to get behind teams that had set up to frustrate. Often Villa seemed too narrow and rarely got to the byline. In the final stage of the season, defences knew exactly what Adomah and Snodgrass were going to do. It got a bit predictable.
In conclusion on the number front, the most important number at the moment is the fact that Jack Grealish is still number ’10. Yes, he’s still at the club despite all the Hilda Ogden scaremongering rumours of the press.
Read what MOMS wrote about the Grealish situation here – yet again, we’re the only ones to have the balls to call it for what it is at the moment.
Aston Villa Squad Numbers 2018/19
2. Ritchie De Laet
3. Neil Taylor
5. James Chester
6. Glenn Whelan
8. Henri Lansbury
9. Scott Hogan
10. Jack Grealish
12. Jed Steer
14. Conor Hourihane
15. Mile Jedinak
16. James Bree
17. Keinan Davis
19. Andre Green
20. Birkir Bjarnason
21. Alan Hutton
23. Andre Moreira
24. Tommy Elphick
25. Gary Gardner
26. Jonathan Kodjia
27. Ahmed Elmohamady
29. Rushian Hepburn-Murphy
31. Mark Bunn
33. Matija Sarkic
37. Albert Adomah