I think it is fair so say that the 16/17 season did not live up to most Vila fans expectations. Whilst in our hearts a return to the Premier League is what we all wanted, it’s fair to say that given how far the club had fallen that this would be optimistic at best. Personally, I did not want the club to get promoted just to get back down again. That said, I would have preferred a top 8 finish rather than the mid-table finish we found ourselves in at the end of the season.
With a new season comes renewed optimism, so this time round what should Villa be aiming for? The simple answer is promotion and nothing less. There is no question in my mind that the club is much better equipped than 12 months ago. Villa have had the time to steady the ship and gel the squad. I don’t care how it’s done, preferably as champions but even winning the playoffs will achieve the goal of getting our great club back where it belongs.
There is no question that the club are stuck with one or two players who many would have like to see go but having said that we have got rid of the likes of Ally Cissokho, Jordan Veretout and Carlos Sanchez. I wont lie, I was bitterly disappointed that Nathan Baker left too but his transfer did make sense and suited all parties involved. With the new signings Villa are unable to guarantee Baker a starting place every game. It was only ever going to mean that he would want to move on and for that I wish him all the best.
One thing Villa have done really well in this transfer window and that is the signing of proven, experienced players. No “next big thing” just simple experienced heads. John Terry has come in and rightfully taken over the captains arm band. I do feel a little sorry for James Chester as I don’t think he has done nothing wrong as a captain, however I am sure that like both you and I that he totally understands what we are getting from Terry as our leader on the pitch, a natural leader, a well-respected player and a defender who has won it all (other than the Championship) We have also signed Glenn Whelan who has close to 300 appearances for Stoke, Ahmed Elmohamady who has close to 200 appearances for Hull and the big man Chris Samba who has been around the block himself. In addition to these guys we also have got back in Sam johnstone for another season. I will be the first to admit that I was not his biggest fan when he joined us last season but he finished strong and now has some experience. He will be a key figure the season ahead.
If we rewind 12 months to when and how we started the last season away to Sheffield Wednesday, the most important thing to me at the time was that we at least went out and played for the draw. Ultimately we lost that game and drew too many games in what followed. This resulted in Di Matteo losing his job and contributing to the club’s the mid-table finish. This season we have one goal, win every game regardless. A return to the Premier League is all that matters.
2 vital players, probably 2 of our best players from last term Mile Jedinak and Jonathan Kodjia are expected to be out for another 2-4 weeks repetitively. Jack Grealish also looks to be out with a kidney injury for a minimum of 3 moths. That said, there is no doubt we still have the squad to get promoted. Hull will be a great test for us. It’s the last team Bruce managed and got promoted and despite being relegated they will also be looking to bounce straight back up.
we should be tough team to beat, I just worry a little on where our goals are going to come from. We certainly have the fire power even without Kodjia. My only question mark is the level of service the guys up to will get. I am sure Saturday will paint a picture for the season ahead either way.
Let’s hope for a good performance and most importantly the 3 points!