After confirming there would be no renewals for eight Aston Villa players whose contracts had expired – Mile Jedinak, Alan Hutton, Tommy Elphick, Albert Adomah, Glenn Whelan, Ritchie De Laet, Mark Bunn and Micah Richards – the Villa recruitment team took further steps to shed unnecessary gristle from a Villa squad that is now looking rather threadbare.
After biting the bullet to agree a variation agreement with Ross McCormack, who still had a year to go on his contract, the Villa board have certainly created the aura of a fresh slate at Villa Park.
Gary Gardner securing a move to Birmingham City, also emphasised the urgency of the board in shipping out any of the remaining deadwood.
The exodus has been so extreme that when you factor in the loss of the loan players Tyrone Mings, Axel Tuanzebe, Kortney Hause and Tammy Abraham, Villa would now struggle to field even a decent five-a-side team.
Such squad overhauls always carry a massive question mark for promoted teams. The most recent example being Fulham, who perhaps bought poorly last summer and made the mistake of not trusting the personnel and playing-style that won them promotion to the Premier League in the first place.
Villa’s overhaul is of different kind. Partly unavoidable, partly a reset of the club to become a Premier League team once again that can make waves in the top tier.
As it stands, of the remaining squad, perhaps only Jack Grealish and John McGinn are guaranteed starters next season, so the team spirit of the promotion team will have to be rebuilt with new players.
Hause and Anwar El Ghazi will no doubt be confirmed soon on permanents, as Villa seek to at least have some continuity, but you feel the club will at least need to get Mings to join them to recapture some of the positive momentum of the past couple of months.
Mings though does carry questions marks in terms of his injury record, especially if Bournemouth try to inflate the transfer fee for the player.
Right-back Frederic Guilbert is already in the bag and Villa supporters will be keen to see him in action after the summer break to see if he will be the answer at right-back. The full-back positions will no doubt be key for Villa to be a dynamic force in the Premier League.
Smith will certainly want to see his full-backs offer up a bit more in the final third too to help break through better organised Premier League defences.
While Jota’s signing was greeted with a mixed reaction from the fanbase, he’s a player that could provide an extra dimension in wider areas going forward. There’s potential there to be a decent squad player, as he worked well for Smith at Brentford, before becoming Birmingham City’s record signing. The Blues ultimately perhaps didn’t have the courage of their convictions to play in a way that Jota would flourish in. Villa will hopefully play a more expansive game that will suit the Spaniard.
In the latest My Old Man Said podcast, after looking back at Villa’s Wembley success we take a look at some of the squad-building issues over the summer and also at Jota’s potential for Villa.
Don’t miss the episode and if you haven’t tuned in before and want informed debate, and have a sense of humour. Now is the time to get involved!
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Episode 76 Notes
Promotion Glory and Rebuilding From Ground Zero
After looking back at Aston Villa’s climatic day out at Wembley that sealed promotion back to the Premier League, minds are cast forward to what awaits Villa in the top flight and the mass squad-building project that Dean Smith must undertake.
As well as reliving Villa’s glorious day at Wembley Stadium, we discuss the Champions’ League final, Neymar’s recent downfall and the sad passing of José Antonio Reyes. The Scott Hogan Touch Count Meter takes a reading of Hogan’s international career and there’s also the final return of two My Old Man Said old school favourites.
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