I wouldn’t bet against there being no new Aston Villa owner in place by the time the 2014/15 season kicks off. With no sign of a realistic buyer on the horizon and considering the due diligence process takes six weeks before a new owner could get up and running, don’t hold your breath for a new optimistic dawn at Villa Park just yet.
In the interim Randy Lerner will not splash the cash for the experienced players that Paul Lambert has finally admitted are needed to rejuvenate the club. Any spend will probably be enough to keep the club ticking over and hopefully to avoid the drop.
We will discuss the state of Aston Villa in more detail on MOMS soon, but in the meantime here’s a few factors that may determine if Villa can keep their heads above water while the takeover process drags on
Can Lambert play the short-term loan and Bosman market?
There’s been talk about Joleon Lescott AGAIN being a Villa target, but at the age of 31, he will be looking for one last three-year contract to tie him over. Yes, he’ll have to half his reported £90,000-a-week wage, but would Lerner sanction Lambert offering a player £45,000-a-week for three years, when for the last couple of seasons agents have warned players that Villa are unlikely to go over 30,000-a-week? It’s highly unlikely. In terms of centre-back cover, looking at players from recently relegated Premier League clubs is more likely.
Gareth Barry at 33-years-old might be a little easier to negotiate, although it’s a shame he didn’t have one more season to run on his Manchester City contract, as a part-payment season-loan would have been easier for Lerner to sanction. I expect the maths of the situation will put both players out of reach for Villa. Since due to his age, Villa would unlikely give him anything beyond a one year contract, while Barry would prefer at least two.
Lambert’s other hope is to try to mine the top four clubs for talent on the fringes of their club’s squads ala Ryan Betrand, or older players in a similar position who perhaps have a season left on their contracts. A couple of such players could prove decent damage limitation squad boosting players while the takeover process rumbles on.
The speed of Christian Benteke’s recovery
While early reports suggested Villa’s Belgian forward would perhaps miss a couple of months at the start of the season, Benteke seemingly may still report for preseason training. It’s a catch-22 with Benteke – Villa want him fit asap, but supporters might not want him firing on all cylinders before August 31, only to then see him transferred out of Villa Park. If Benteke goes, with the club up for sale, it’s unlikely he would be replaced by Lerner.
New signings that won’t cost a penny
Jores Okore and Libor Kozák, as the saying goes, will be like new signings when the season starts. The return of both will boost the team no matter whatever else happens in the transfer window.
The return of the bomb squad.
The return of Darren Bent, Alan Hutton, Charles N’Zogbia and Shay Given to the squad is an odd one. If they’re still around at Villa Park come the start of the season, will they really be motivated to play for a manager who has already signaled they are not welcome or good enough for his team? Lambert would lose his authority due to the decision to bring them back, plus the players will know he is a manager that is under threat as soon as a new owner comes in. Is it a recipe for a further behind-the-scenes disaster?
Saying that, if the above players want to rescue their careers, a few good performances could put them in the shop window for a January move away from Villa. So their return could be mutually beneficial.