Time For Aston Villa Youth?
This season has been an unprecedented disaster, no doubt about it. It’s clear that the vast majority of players named in Aston Villa’s matchday squad have no future at the club, and are failing miserably in the present, so why not turn to a few of those who could end up as stars at the club? For my money, it’s time to start investing (now there’s a rare word at Villa Park these days) in the future, instead of floundering in the failing present.
Pros and Cons
There are valid arguments for and against blooding youth at the moment but I think we have to embrace the positive, and I think that at this stage there is more to gain than lose from getting the academy involved in the action. I’m not necessarily saying we need to suddenly field the whole academy in games, but getting some playing time at the top-level will be an important part of their development.
First of all let’s address the point I touched on above, the future. This squad needs to be rebuilt and like it or not, Villa are not going to go out and buy a new 25 man squad of top players for next season. Some (hopefully many) will leave. A few will likely arrive, but the rest of the squad may have to be filled out with academy prospects.
Let’s give them a head start on next season with some experience now and let’s show them that they are wanted. Let’s show the next generations that they will have an opportunity to be part of making this club great again, instead of being undervalued spectators of disaster like both they and the fans have been forced to be. It can’t be said that having more playing time under their belt won’t benefit the team next year when these guys are called into action.
I understand worries that, A: the youngsters will be tainted by the toxicity at the club and B: the club can’t be seen as giving up before we are ‘mathematically relegated.’ These points however may not be as relevant as they seem at face value and I’ll elaborate on why I believe that.
Breaking It Down
While fear that bad attitudes or vibes will be passed on to the next generation is natural, there are a few factors at play here. First of all, several of these young players are already in the matchday squad. As a result the choice is as follows, allow them to sit around and soak up the lethargy and dissent of those around them or be given something positive to focus on, a chance to play for their boyhood club and prove their potential. I know which I’d prefer.
The relationship between certain senior players and the fans may be frayed but you can guarantee that the one element for good at the club, the fans, would be fully behind young Villains coming in and giving their all. This support will be key in maintaining a sense of connection to the club for the next generation of players, and in keeping them at the club. No pressure would be mounted on these players by the fans.
‘Giving their all’ and ‘having something to prove’ are key elements in why the blooding of these starlets would not be giving up before official relegation, but rather taking some sort of affirmative action. Anyone watching recent capitulations would see that 100% effort is not being given by many ‘key’ players. The youngsters have plenty of motivation and desire to get involved and that’s easily preferable to supposedly professional seniors who are complacent and refuse to take responsibility.
Sending a Message
As a mentioned earlier, introducing the academy graduates wouldn’t have to be wholesale but giving them a chance ahead of those players whose levels of entitlement are matched only by their complacency and lethargy, would send a powerful message about what is expected of those wearing the jersey, and attitudes that will not be tolerated.
Rewarding youth and desire ahead of spoiled experience would be a positive action taken reflecting at least one eye being on the future. It would be a chance to possibly launch a new career or find a new star, instead of persisting with fallen ones.
The treatment of our academy prospects has been awful for some time now, as Samir Carruthers recently elaborated on. The fact that Marc Albrighton was allowed to leave for free and may now collect a Premier League winners medal is further salt in the wounds, although I’m delighted for him, he’s been great this term. At the end of the day, we let him go.
As one star product of the academy (Gabby)’s power fades, it’s time to find some more. Whatever your current feelings on Gabby Agbonlahor are he has been a record-breaking, servant to this club. His promotion from the youth set up.and subsequent career in claret and blue should be an inspiration for youth that they can make the grade at Villa Park.
With the slow destruction of the club and the ending of a proud top-flight record wouldn’t it be nice to take an opportunity to start something new? To create opportunity instead of constantly letting them go?
Even on the most cynical level possible this decision would make sense. Bringing in the youth would be a cost cutting measure as large numbers of the higher earners are likely to earn undeserved but welcome moves elsewhere. If youth can step up then money could be invested (wishful thinking?) in a few key players instead of a full squad of mediocre recruits.
Should monsieur Remi stay on, which seems unlikely at the moment, he could at least be credited with giving youth a chance, punishing poor senior attitudes, and would have some raw materials to work with for next season’s much needed and hoped for, rebuild. For us fans, even if these players don’t become superstars, it may lead to some actual excitement before the end of a season, as the enthusiasm of youth graces Villa Park once more.
Whatever the rate Villa’s younger players are allowed to break through the ranks of the Villa first team, one thing is for sure, Villa need players that on top of ability have a real work ethic, desire and hunger for success.
As the likes of Watford, Bournemouth and most of all Leicester City have shown this season, such qualities coupled with a team spirit, can give you a real edge over any collection of individuals, never mind their reputations.
In the Championship, this will be even more important.
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