“I wanted Tammy Abraham from day one,” declared Cardiff City boss Neil Warnock this week, as he made public his frustrations over failing to land his number one striker target. The fact the Chelsea striker ended up in the Championship with Aston Villa certainly seems to have provoked some head scratching from Warnock.
“Tammy would have been my main man in the Premier League,” said Warnock. “Surely that would have been better for him? I don’t understand it. Surely they would want him playing in the Premier League?”
The big question for Villa supporters now though is will Tammy Abraham be the main man at Villa?
There’s obviously a decision to be made for Villa boss Steve Bruce now regarding playing one or two up front.
With Jack Grealish playing a free role in midfield instead of a second striker, how can Bruce really go with two up top to accommodate Abraham and Kodjia?
Playing the two in a 4-4-2, along with very attack-minded wide men in Yannick Bolasie and Anwar El Ghazi (who you’d assume would start), would leave a midfield with just John McGinn and Grealish in the middle somewhat exposed and lightweight.
Bruce is hardly going to drop Grealish and play Conor Hourihane, Henri Lansbury or Birkir Bjarnason instead, all of whom would potentially serve a more conventional central midfielder berth in a 4-4-2 better.
So will Bruce chose Abraham over Kodjia and Scott Hogan, who should be back in the match day squad in two weeks?
Bruce mentioned in his pre-Blackburn press conference that he “made a pledge to Axel [Tuanzebe] that he will play”. Did he do the same thing with Abraham to convince him that a loan move to Villa was the right move?
Surely he must have given the Chelsea striker some kind of guarantee?
Warnock’s hopes of trying to get in Abraham for Cardiff, were principally underdone due to the striker thinking that he would stick around at Chelsea to battle for his place. That certainly seemed to be the plan running up to the Premier League transfer window deadline.
After the young Chelsea player’s Charity Shield substitute appearance, he must have felt he’d at least be getting a few games under his belt in the Europa League and League Cup to impress Maurizio Sarri to hopefully break into Chelsea’s league match day squads.
That was MOMS reckoning too, although it seemed that if Abraham was to move, it would be a last-minute decision, when the final Championship loan deadline arrived.
So, if Abraham was convinced to suddenly come to Villa, then he must have fully expected to be playing regularly and get a lot more games than he would have at Chelsea. It would have been a big part of the conversation with Steve Bruce.
Abraham said himself, he only made his mind up with only a couple of days to go to the Championship loan deadline.
With Bolasie and El Ghazi expected to be Bruce’s starters, the Villa boss is unlikely to dispense with his preferred defensive midfielder, as the midfield will need to offset the attacking tendencies of the wide men. Also, after the summer’s shenanigans, Bruce is unlikely to drop Grealish.
I don’t see Bolasie and El Ghazi as wing backs, so that throws a potential 3-5-2 out the window. Although, you could venture that against lesser teams at Villa Park, you could throw caution to the wind more and play Kodjia with Abraham up top in that formation.
So, it all points to Villa keeping their current shape and playing Grealish playing behind the single striker.
Bruce is a little stuck in that he has to keep his high profile loan players happy – along with the likes of Grealish and Kodjia – with starts, thus this may lead him to managing individuals ahead of picking his actual best team unit (which may need certain more talented individuals to be sacrificed).
Will such player politics compromise his selections too much?
It’s certainly going to get interesting for Bruce in the next week or two. If he makes Abraham his main man, how will Kodjia and Hogan take it? How will the team’s morale be impacted?
What Bruce really needs is one of his strikers to step up and own the starting spot to quash any debate. That would certainly help Bruce at least solve one of his current problems.