It’s safe to say the 2015/16 season is one to forget for Aston Villa, who are currently rock bottom of the Premier League with only three wins, which is surprisingly one more than their number of managerial casualties.
With Championship football practically a certainty for the Villains next term, the upcoming summer transfer window could be the most vital one in the club’s recent history.
Riding Villa Park of the toxic personalities and wantaways in the camp will be a difficult task for the new manager, whoever that may be, but signing the right players to ensure Villa survive the dog-eat-dog nature of the Championship will be even more challenging.
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Aston Villa will have to use the large parachute fees to invest in quality and most importantly experienced Championship players that will ensure a repeat of this season’s performances or lack of them, does not happen again.
Whereas Villa cannot afford to cull their entire squad, they will certainly need at least seven signings to compete in arguably England’s toughest division.
We run the rule of the Villa squad, assessing which players could shine brightly in the Championship and which players would make welcome additions.
Aston Villa must be looking to sign a new goalkeeper this summer after keeping only two clean sheets this season. Brad Guzan has played a massive part in Villa’s Premier League survival in the past three seasons, but this year he has struggled in between the sticks and has come under pressure from the club's fans. Despite a struggled season, getting rid of the American international would be a bad decision, who with a stronger back four in front of him, could prove to be one of the Championship’s finest 'keepers.
Villa’s back four has been shambolic this campaign with experienced England internationals Micah Richards and Joleon Lescott not justifying the money spent on them. Its seems certain that the pair will jump ship and look for greener pastures, leaving Villa to step up the search for a new defensive pairing.
Strong, vocal, experienced and goal scoring threat Aiden Flint from Bristol City is the perfect fit for Villa’s faltering back four. Partnered with Blackburn captain and Scotland international, Grant Hanley, the pairing could prove the strongest in the Championship and safe guard Guzan’s six-yard box.
Villa’s midfield needs to undertake a transformation in order to compete in the Championship. The midfield trio, which suffered a 4-0 defeat to Chelsea on Saturday, are unlikely to grace the Villa Park turf next season. With Carlos Sanchez and Idrissa Gueye enduring terrible form this term and Ashley Westwood seemingly never making any impact on Villa’s play.
Steel, energy and the ability to play box-to-box is the mould of a good Championship midfielder. A skill set owned by Iceland captain and Cardiff City hatchet man Aron Gunnarson and wantaway Nottingham Forest skipper Henri Lansbury. Like Flint and Hanley, the steely centre midfielders could work in harmony together and dominate any Championship pitch. Both boast a wealth of experience and leadership skills.
Aston Villa’s lack of goals is one of the many reasons the club are staring relegation in the face and whereas their strike force is anything but prolific the lack of service from the midfield is just as bad.
Just one assist between the midfield which started the Chelsea match all season. Brentford’s Alan Judge and Sheffield Wednesday’s Lewis McGugan are two of the Championship’s most potent creative midfielders. Judge, who made his Republic of Ireland debut earlier this year, is a surer bet out of the two and his dazzling performances and eye for a spectacular goal has seen him linked to a host of big clubs.
Free kick wizard McGugan has played his entire career in the Championship. He’s found game time hard to come by this season but the Forest academy graduate has a knack of making an instant impact upon signing for a new club, evident from a short spell at Watford. McGugan would not demand a high transfer fee and could prove a calculated risk for Villa.
Scott Sinclair and Rudy Gestede may have been disappointing this term but their experience of Championship football could see them blossom next year, with Gestede earning a move to the Villain’s after a goal scoring tenure with an average Blackburn Rovers side.
Villa will hope winger Sinclair can duplicate his Championship performances achieved while with Swansea City five years ago, scoring 19 goals in England’s second tier. However, signing a familiar Championship goal scorer will only aid chances of instant promotion back to the big time.
Fulham vice-captain Ross McCormack would be a sure bet, enjoying prolific seasons in London and Leeds. The Scottish international striker would command a fee of around £10million but has demonstrated with previous transfer requests he is keen to move to greener pastures.
Blackburn talisman Ben Marshall is also not to be overlooked, the versatile winger is a regular goal scorer, netting seven this season, and is one of the most talented players the Championship has to offer.
Whoever takes the helm of the sinking ship which is Aston Villa will face a difficult task, with many tipping Villa for a double dip of relegations. However, with a number of experienced new faces and avoiding the temptation to delve into the foreign market, the Clarets could make themselves a force to be reckoned with.
Can Aston Villa return to the Premier League first time of asking? Have YOUR say on the matter in the comment section below!