Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The off-season: Aston Villa

Like Everton, Aston Villa are a side constantly improving each season by keeping their manager and investing wisely in players. They finished sixth and qualified for the Intertoto Cup, meaning an early start to the campaign. Thankfully their squad is usually made up of English players and with England not qualifying for Euro 2008, it will them to have a break. Reasonably they should be expected to have another good campaign in the league whilst at least try to win a cup competition.

GK: Stuart Taylor

With Thomas Sorensen leaving and Scott Carson returning to Liverpool, Villa need to invest in a top class goalkeeper. The £10 million price tag placed by Liverpool on Carson has lead to O'Neill looking elsewhere, with USA international goalkeeper Brad Guzan being the top target. O'Neill failed in his bid to sign Buzan in January due to work permit issues but if Liverpool continue to maintain that exorbitant fee for Carson, look for another US keeper to come to the Premier League soon.

RB: Craig Gardner

Yet another area O'Neill should be investing in. O'Neill had to make do by playing central defender Olof Mellberg in this position but has left for Juventus. O'Neill must now face this problem head on. Stephen Carr and Justin Hoyte have been linked with the role, with my preference being on Hoyte (despite my desire for him to stay at Arsenal).

LB: Wilfred Bouma

It seems Aston Villa needs to make signings in every position. This is not surprising since they have one of the smallest squad. Having to recruit in every area will mean a busy summer for Martin O'Neill (and agents). However Martin O'Neill has to keep what he has and he's hoping to retain the services of Bouma plus add somebody else with John Arne Riise mentioned in the tabloids.

CB: Martin Laursen, Curtis Davies, Zat Knight

With Olof Mellberg popping off to Italy and Davies' transfer not yet complete, another addition in the centre of the defence should be required. Yet whoever comes in knows they probably be fourth choice. The gaffer be best to find a full-back who can also play in the centre, like Justin Hoyte.

WG: Wayne Routledge, Shawn Maloney, Ashley Young

Buying players in this area depends on Martin O'Neill's faith in his current players. Obviously there is not question of Young's ability but Maloney has drifted in and out of games. Routledge maybe given a fresh chance in the pre-season but his non-appearance after his transfer may mean he will move on after his contract runs out next year. I'm sure O'Neill will look out for wingers but it is not his top priority

CM: Gareth Barry, Nigel Reo-Coker, Stiliyan Petrov, Moustapha Salifou, Isaiah Osbourne

Probably O'Neill's most important area - not for buying but for keeping. With Liverpool sniffing around for Barry, O'Neill has to keep his best player and captain to ensure another good season come next May.

FW: John Carew, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Marlon Harewood, Luke Moore

It is most likely there will be a swap in this department, with Luke Moore going and another striker coming in. Moore is a good player but just too similar to the far superior Agbonlahor, who is breaking into the England team. What Villa needs is a striker who can drop deep, sort of like the playmaking role of Bergkamp or Sheringham.


In: Goalkeeper x 1, Right-back x 1, Left-back x 1, Winger x 1, Forward x 1
Out: Luke Moore

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