Rémi Garde Has Simple Path to Improvement After Shambolic Team Selections of Predecessors

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Only £3.5 million of what Villa spent over the summer was on the pitch against Spurs when the game kicked-off.

Revamp? Regression More Like

Remember this stat before we go on – Aston Villa signed 13 new players in the summer. Take away Scott Sinclair, and that’s 12 new signings who didn’t play for Villa last season.

This summer was mooted as the squad revamp that Villa badly needed after firstly finishing on only 38 points and then losing the key players in Christian Benteke, Fabian Delph and Tom Cleverley, lets throw in Ron Vlaar too, for sake of argument.

A pathetic 38 points and that was WITH Benteke, Delph & co.

So lets take a look at Villa’s starting line-up picked by Kevin MacDonald against Spurs and remember that Villa’s squad of players were pretty much all fit.

  • 01 Guzan
  • 21 Hutton
  • 06 Clark
  • 16 Lescott
  • 18 Richardson
  • 24 Sánchez
  • 15 Westwood 
  • 07 Bacuna
  • 40 Grealish 
  • 09 Sinclair
  • 11 Agbonlahor

Only one of the new signing that didn’t play last season – a past his best Joleon Lescott – was included in a team already far weaker than the one that only managed to finish on a sub 40 point total.

What was Kevin MacDonald playing at? There was only ever going to be one result. This was essentially Lambert’s team plus Lescott, minus Benteke, Delph and Cleverley. Where were the 12 new signings to strengthen and re-energise the Villa team?


With Sinclair and Lescott starting in McDonald’s selection, that meant only £3.5 million of what Villa spent over the summer was on the pitch against Spurs when the game kicked-off. That’s nothing short of astonishing, when you factor in that Villa were £40.5m down with Benteke and Delph’s absence. Factor in that Cleverley was on loan (valued at around £5m) and Vlaar went on free (value around £3.5), then Villa’s team was around £50m down on last season in terms of quality (more, if you consider Delph was sold at cut-price).

So in monetary value, Villa put out a team that was approximately net £-46.5 million down in quality on the already poor team of last season. It can only be labelled football suicide. It. Will. Not. Get. Results.

Only one player started the game against Spurs who had scored more than one goal last season and that was Gabby Agbonlahor (6), and his last goal was back in March 2015.

A moneyball approach has been largely responsible for the recruitment in the summer, but it’s a shame that such a statistical informed approach isn’t taken when actually picking the team for games, because the above stats just do not add-up.

Odd Selections

What on earth was Kevin MacDonald playing at? During mid-week we’d seen from the club’s photos the likes of Vertout, Ayew, Traore, all in the thick of the action in training, yet none of them started.

“I think Idrissa during the Swansea game looked tired,” said MacDonald. “We rested him for the Southampton game but he hasn’t had that spark that we saw in the first two or three games.”

Gana looked better than most Villa players against Swansea, yet you’re then resting him for two games?

Against Southampton in the League Cup, there was a great chance to give the new recruits game time, yet only three of the new boys (Gestede, Crespo, Amavi) started.


In Sherwood’s last couple of games he only played five new players, in line-ups that supporters were resigned to defeat, as soon as they saw them at 2pm.

If these players after 11 games are not considered good enough for the Premier League yet – a) why buy them? and b) the only way the key new players are going to be ready is by playing games, so why not play them in the cup game and against Spurs and Chelsea, games in which success was unlikely anyway.

It all seems a bit odd.

La Bonne Nouvelle

New Villa boss Rémi Garde MUST know all of the above and be thinking, here’s a job where I can look good from the off, because the previous men in charge haven’t actually been playing their best players. Potentially, Garde has a short path to take to instant improvement. He comes to the club without any chips on his shoulders about players and will play the best team according to who he thinks is the best.

His fresh eyes on the situation will be most welcome.

[AGAINST SPURS] Villa put out a team that was approximately a net £-46.5 million DOWN in quality on the already poor team of last season. It can only be labelled football suicide.

If Villa are to have any chance of success this season, then it will chiefly be on the shoulders of Veretout, Traore and Ayew to provide the attacking threat to bail them out, but they need games to gel and get used to the demands of the league.

A lot has been said about Traore’s contract, but I’m giving those at the club who brokered the deal, the benefit of the doubt that they surely couldn’t be that stupid to offer a deal to a raw 19-year-old player that would put him on £75,000 after a few appearances. This is despite the journalist who broke the story confirming to me it is true. All I’m going to say is I’m giving the club the benefit of the doubt, because that’s what common sense would dictate (however, lets not forget common sense has been a quality in short supply at the club for far too long).

Then there’s Veretout. For MOMS money potentially the summer signing that could give Villa a whole new dimension to the team. Yes, he’s now a young dad, but surely he’s not on maternity leave? Pretty much every footballer has kids when they’re young. It’s what they do when not playing football. Get him playing!

As for Ayew, just compare his performances in the last few games against Agbonlahor’s, to determine who should start out of the two of them.

Garde, of course has a chance of turning Villa around, because Villa have been shooting themselves in the foot up to now with head-scratching starting line-ups or poor in-game management.  The biggest question mark over the French man’s potential revolution is though, whether all these players that have been brought in by the recruitment team of O’Reilly, Almstadt and Sherwood under Fox, are good enough for the task ahead?

After the shenanigans of Sherwood and MacDonald, at least under Garde, we’ll finally get to find out.

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