Luke Hatfield reckons that Aston Villa have felt the effects of the summer exits of John Terry and Richard O’Kelly.
Terry left midway through pre-season with a view to considering his own future and wanting to spend more time with his family, whilst O’Kelly ended his three-year stint at Villa Park just two days before Dean Smith’s side started their campaign at Watford.
What happened with Terry and O’Kelly?
The pair’s respective arrivals coincided in a hugely successful period in Villa’s recent history, gaining promotion back to the Premier League, surviving on the final day before securing their best top-flight finish since 2011 when they came 11th last term.
With Villa spending big this summer, it looked like the duo would continue to aid Smith and help the Midlands giants compete for Europe this season following a successful transfer window which saw the likes of Emiliano Buendia, Leon Bailey and Danny Ings all arrive.
But Terry left at the end of July and stated on his Instagram that he plans to “visit clubs and managers around Europe to develop my aim and objective of becoming a manager,” although he’s yet to fulfil that dream.
Meanwhile, Smith was struck with another blow just 48 hours before the new campaign when O’Kelly’s departure was confirmed after more than 10 years together at Walsall, Brentford and then Villa.
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It’s been more than two months since the pair left the club, but Hatfield reckons that their absences’ are still being felt.
What did Hatfield say?
He told GIVEMESPORT: “It’s been a big impact, there’s no hiding that. It wasn’t just John Terry who’s gone, it was also Richard O’Kelly from the coaching staff, so it was a double-whammy for Villa, two assistant coaches leaving in a matter of weeks of each other.”
Have Villa suffered since they left?
Last season, Villa kept an impressive 15 clean sheets in the league, behind only Manchester City and Chelsea, with Terry’s own defensive experience of the division clearly a massive help.
Despite Terry’s departure, Villa’s defensive record is quite similar to last season, conceding nine times in 10 matches, keeping three shut-outs in the process. They have already played Chelsea, Manchester United and Tottenham away, although they did keep a clean sheet at Old Trafford in a defensive showing that Terry himself would have been proud of.
He’s no longer there, but Terry’s influence is still clearly helping Villa out at the back.