Hitchens60 has offered the following thoughts about incomings and outgoings at the club.
Now that we’ve secured our immediate premiership future, thoughts turn to next season and the need to strengthen the squad; to bring in that bit of quality that we all recognise is missing.
Before looking at our playing squad, it’s also relevant to consider the management issues, particularly around our transfer strategy last summer – I’ll ignore the January dealings as it’s almost impossible to improve a squad at a sensible price during that window. We tried and, frankly, other than Reina we failed. Suso has gone and I reckon there will be few, if any, Villa supporters shedding tears; rather it’s good to see Purslow and the Villa owners recognising that he really didn’t contribute anything that couldn’t have been achieved by Smith.
Continuity has to be the new mantra at VP, so major changes should, if possible be avoided. Smith should stay and he’s earned that. Whether JT stays I suspect may be down to two factors – does Smith trust him or does he want to move on to management – time will answer those questions. I’ve no doubt we’ll appoint a new DoF but Smith should be directly involved in the choice and his (DoF’s) role needs to be clearly defined. Smith must have the major say in transfers.
Turning to the squad the challenge will be improving it without major surgery – so again continuity is the key. The squad is relatively small which should help in that regard. But, before thinking who should go it’s important that we keep our better players albeit large fees may be tempting for the owners. As I see it, we do need to keep Mings, Grealish, McGinn, Luiz and Konsa in particular.
Who should go – well Drinkwater and Reina are on loan and should return to their clubs (Baston has already departed). However, it would be interesting to get views on Reina returning next season as GK cover assuming we could get him on another loan.
From the current squad – who should go?
Goalkeepers – Nyland and Kalinic but that then leaves us with only two senior GK’s (Heaton and Steer) with uncertainty over the fitness of both – hence my question above regarding Reina or do we splash out on a new keeper – such as Ben Foster from Watford?
Defenders – recognising that we need squad players I am only advocating Engels as a definite. But what about Elmo, Hause, Targett and Taylor? Given that we don’t want to make wholesale changes will age become a deciding factor or should EPL experience be the driver? And what about the forgotten right back James Bree? Chester it seems has been released.
Midfielders – Jota and Lansbury are definite for me. Nakamba I think will be retained as a squad player. Then there’s El Ghazi and Trezeguet – both of whom seem to blow hot and cold. Trezeguet has 7 goals (as does Hourihane) and El Ghazi has 7 assists each of which is second only to Grealish (10 goals and 8 assists) in stats – I can see one of the two moving on particularly given Andre Green to come back from loan. Hourihane is the marmite midfielder but with 7 goals and 7 assists would you keep him?
Forwards seem a little more straightforward – Hogan and Samatta should move on although I could see the latter staying – even though he doesn’t look Premier quality – as I suspect he’s not on a big wage. I see Davis having real potential and would retain him – there was a significant improvement when he replaced Samatta on Sunday.
I started by saying continuity should be the way forward but how do we improve the squad and avoid major surgery? However one looks at it, we are going to need at least five or six new players – let’s hope the owners have deep pockets and we don’t have to fund transfers by selling any of our better players.
I’ll leave it to others with more knowledge than me, to suggest who our targets should be.