Summer Transfer Targets

Another day, another draw.

Yes, the two points dropped against Everton leaves our fight for fourth hanging by a worn thread. However, if we were to magically win our remaining five games we would still accumulate the targeted 16 points which I believe would be enough. But daydreams aside, I think it’s important to get back down to business and think about how we could improve on another season of overachievement.

Speaking to fans of other clubs, the general consensus is that Villa have had a “very good season.” Some would deem this patronising and others would think we deserve more than a very good season but in relative proportions, we have had an excellent year.

When you’re engrossed in team affairs and buy into the promises and hype of hope, I suppose it’s easy to accuse the team of underachieving when some results don’t go your way. Fortunately for our previous two managers (Taylor and O’Leary), they failed to offer any form of optimism and thus expectancy was non-existent throughout their reigns. If we were to ignore the less competitive league of the past when 10 less points got O’Leary to where O’Neill finished 2 years ago, one could argue that DOL’s 6th place finish got us believing. However, a steady decline throughout his time in charge of both on and off field performances suggested all along that he would not take us forward. Indeed, before MON took charge, we had witnessed 4 FA Cup 3rd Round eliminations and a thrilling run to the 5th round. So when I consider how in just 2 seasons O’Neill had turned us into an assured top 6 side, before chasing both fourth place and cup honours, I remember our all-too-recent relegation scraps and realise that Aston Villa have of course had a “very good season”.

A very good season for an Aston Villa fan, however, means putting up with yet another trophyless year. And if we were to stop the rot at 15 years this coming season, it is going to take a prolonged exceptional performance. The boys proved their capable competency this year with 2 extended cup runs and an elongated top 4 challenge (which is still going with just 5 games left).But, as good a journey it has been, we have fallen short. And as quality a player we may possess, we can’t expect to win silverware with just 13 trustworthy names (Luke Young and Heskey are the only other two squad players who contribute).

So what do we require to go one step further? Which players are needed in our squad to help push us into the top 4 and into cup glory? How do we prolong success?

Kevin Doyle:

Okay, okay, not groundbreaking by any means and the Villa faithful might not jump up from their seats at the prospect of the Irish man’s arrival. But in ‘Doyler’, we could have a younger, hungrier, more prolific and just plain better version of Emile Heskey. Watching the Wolves player on a regular basis playing for Ireland, I was surprised at his superb ability to hold the ball up. Not only is he much stronger than I first presumed, but his aptitude to bring the ball under control and find a supporting player is something to be admired – and something which he can do as effectively (if not better) than our number 18. On top of this, he does so in much more difficult environments playing with poorer opposition and used as the “out man” for his country, Doyle has propelled himself to be one of the nation’s most crucial players. Furthermore, his pace, technique and goalscoring record (which surprisingly is better than Heskey’s one in every eight games) make him a much better candidate than the 32 year old Emile to help our club progress. I’m not saying he would make our starting line-up (although he seems to grasp his chance anywhere he plays), but if we sold Heskey and replaced him with Kevin Doyle, we would already have taken strides to improve our chances next year.

Next up, it looks as if our munificent chairman will have to dip into his pockets once more. Of course, there are players there to be sold as well. I think he’s a decent player, but if we have little use for Steve Sidwell then we may as well cash in. Analysing the team, I think it has become abundantly clear that the right back area is a major problem. Defensively, Cuellar is not designed to cover so much space behind him and guard against lightning wingers. And offensively, the Spaniard is certainly not devised to cross into the opposition’s half. I’ve said it before, it’s not his fault but he should not be playing at right back. He is a quality centre back – one of four at the club – and if needs be, could also probably be sold to raise expenses (as disappointed as I would be to see him leaving). Curtis Davies is, talent-wise, our best centre back. Dunne has performed exceptionally well, as has Collins. Therefore, if money was an issue, Carlos would need to get the chop.

Branislav Ivanovic:

Audacious? Maybe. But with the Serbian defender we could, once again, improve our starting line up immensely. At 6ft 2, he would have no problem replacing the aerial prowess of the older Spaniard and certainly at right back, we could acquire an actual footballing threat. As a centre half, Ivanovic would also have much more to offer than Cuellar but after his £9.7m sale to Chelsea, might not come so cheap. I actually believe that Luke Young has much more to offer than he has been allowed this year, but if we are aspiring to play Champions League football, it would be advised to splash out the 5 – 7million required for the purchase of Branislav Ivanovic.

Rafael Da Silva:

At just 19, Rafael is a proven threat attacking from right back. In the intensity of Old Trafford, the Brazilian has sometimes been found wanting in defence and has demonstrated a few signs of inexperience which will surely be rectified with age. But with 3 long term right back servants ahead of him (O’Shea, Neville, Brown), a loan move would be perfect for the development of the young lad. Perhaps he wouldn’t fit as well into Villa’s system and could prove a liability in our set piece defending, but certainly if the chips are down or we’re controlling a game (trying to break teams down), he would be a valuable dimension to deploy.

Michael Carrick:

I can’t believe I just wrote this player’s name. Constantly a source of negative criticism (heavy criticism) from yours truly, I’m extremely disappointed in myself that I have turned my back on such strong beliefs. Too often, Carrick is happy to play safe and return the ball to centre back or pass the buck to his central midfield partner. He’s a player who doesn’t seem to want to make something happen, someone who doesn’t seem to want responsibility, and thus someone who hides from the ball. Yet, when he is on form, he is undoubtedly a terrific passer (if he has the balls to look forward). Starring for Spurs, he made the big money move to United because of his ability to find a game winning pass. And at times for the champions, the fans adored him. Last year, they were electric and Rooney and Berba loved feeding off the English man’s inch perfect passes. But when the going gets tough, Carrick gets running (scared). What I do think however is that Manchester United is probably a club too big for the make up of the central midfielder. Tim Howard was suspect to blunders at Old Trafford, but since his move to the blue half of Liverpool, he has proven he is one of the best keepers in the league. Likewise, Phil Neville’s selection at United was lambasted every week before he went on to captain the best club outside the top 4 and proved he was in fact a quality player. I firmly believe that with Carrick’s underlying talent, he can replace an ageing Petrov, but do so with more panache and more ability to change games for us. And with Man U about to put a miserable season behind them, a serious shake up is on the cards on Sir Matt Busby Way and the former Spurs player could well become available for around the same price we captured Downing and Milner for.

Robbie Keane:

Maybe the wrong time in his career, but Ireland’s all time leading goal-scorer has something which we have been missing for years: flair. Villa stick to a rigid system and it works great, but again when we’re facing difficulties breaking teams down, we don’t possess a player who can unlock defences with a touch of flamboyancy from nowhere. All the great teams have this creative nerve to their back bones and although maybe not a world-class number one choice, Keane could arrive at a cheap price and provide a wonderful stopgap elegance to our side.

Kris Boyd:

Rumours of his arrival were rife last season and as much as I would prefer to see a bigger name on the scene, I’m trying to maintain an air of realism – realistic, yet valuable, additions. How often do we say that Villa need a finisher? Well in Kris Boyd, we could have an indisputable great goal scorer (regardless of which league he plays in). Scoring a goal in almost every 1.3 matches, I think Boyd would make an excellent addition to our effective forward line of Gabby and Carew, but provide that deadly instinct which unfortunately is missing too much. Probably available for under £3 million, it would be silly to miss out on the 26 year old – unless we had a mouthwatering name lined up.

Shaun Wright-Phillips:

Out of favour at an ever-growing Man City, SWP could be the perfect addition to our thin squad. When Downing and Young are tired or underperforming (not to mention the possibility of injury), we have to move our best centre midfielder to the wing and rarely have I seen this pay dividends (Not because Milner can’t operate on the flank, but because we leave a gaping hole in the middle). Again, I am not his biggest fan but even with his inconsistencies, Wright-Phillips is direct and dangerous. I feel Downing and Young for sure have more to offer our first team, but when he’s on-song, little Shaun would fit like a glove into our quick moving attack and again, provide an extra dimension to the superb crossing ability of our current wingers in his willingness to take on the full back.

Having considered 7 new additions which could be acquired this coming summer, I have not only discussed fully possible targets, but I have also put forth 7 names which I think could make a world of difference to Aston Villa’s season performances. On top of this, my wish list could easily be obtained within the realms of a sensible budget and to ensure balance, I have proposed the sale of 3 high profile, replaceable players (Cuellar, Sidwell, Heskey). However, if we could keep such players and find better use for them, as well as bringing in new faces, then the squad will have improved two fold. My suggested signings provide not only a remedy for our first team weaknesses, but flesh to a bone-thin squad and invention to an unimaginative (sometimes) attack. On top of this, each potential signing are at peak age for performance and we wouldn’t have to wait for them to produce the goods. They are proven performers and would not have to adapt to the environment of the Premier League. If you consider the development of Fabian Delph, Marc Albrighton and the long awaited recovery of Wilfred Bouma, with these summer acquisitions, Aston Villa could find themselves going one step further next year. And a one step improvement on this season would result in League Cup success, FA Cup Final shot and Champions League Qualification.

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13 Comments

Filed under Transfer Talk, Uncategorized

13 responses to “Summer Transfer Targets

  1. astonmichaeldevilla

    good to find a website like yours. read the whole page on prospective buys for next yr. not bad thinking. most of them would be decent signings but i we will have to sell before we can buy. it may be one or two of our best players. can u seriously see milner turning down the MANURE if they come courting. i would like to think so but he’s an ambitious lad and wants to win things.

    will keep in touch with your site from now on. good luck with it……

  2. Cheers
    Just started it last month. Seen a writer for Liverpool, Paul Tomkins, has gotten pretty popular just through blogging (I even read it regularly!).
    But I’m not as biased as him! Might be too critical of Villa sometimes

    Well hopefully if Milner was to go – we’d get good bucks for him (considering MANURE bought Cariick and Anderson for 18m each!)

  3. Celtic_Villan

    hi conan you won me over! il run through what i think one by one

    doyle – yeh iv been saying this for a while, he’s got o neill written all over him and for me has defied the critics this season. the only thing he lacks to be the complete centre forward is goalscoring, at which im not convinced he will ever be prolific. though in a decent side you never know. if he is brought though, i hope he isnt the only one, as our biggest issue is goals

    ivanovic – good player, but no chance he would come. also with limit funds, defense is not where we need to be looking. i completely disagree about cuellar, i think he is an excellent centre half and has adopted quite well to right back. he is only there because luke young has been off the boil; lets hope he returns to form. beye may leave, which is fine. hes better than he has been credited though. collins and davies are not bad sub centre backs to have at all, though if we got an offer of 6m or more, id shift davies in a heartbeat

    da silva – again, a good player, or will be anyway, but i feel totally unrealistic. why on earth would he come to villa, and why on earth would he sell them

    carrick – just when i thought we could be friends conan, you go and suggest one of utd’s biggest passengers in the fergie era. this imo, is exactly the kind of player we dont need. thankfully, he would never come and mon would never sign him.
    i feel at best we would play long term, with a real battler in midfield (moreso than petrov), milner and then a player of the gerard mold, who plays as a second striker, assumes little responsibility for tracking back, and adds goals.

    keane – im sure he’d love to. but i think he may well be on the way out. losing pace, and although one of the best players if seen play an offside trap, he is too hot and cold for me. wouldnt be a bad signing as he will score a few, just not who id go for. why you think harry wants rid??

    boyd – hard one. i reckon hes worth a gamble. knows where the net is anyway. though id take doyle and someone else instead. defo a good option to have in a squad though, and if relatively cheap i would. reckon he may end up at the scum though…

    swp – i think we need another winger, mainly because i dont rate downing too highly (though im hoping…) and albrighton aint ready. maybe a good addition. though wouldnt be a priority for me. petrov may be available on a free, i know he’s 31 but def an option to come in and out?

    this is all just my opinion mate. i might hit you back tomorrow and tell you what i think we should buy!

    keep up the good work though!

  4. Good comment! I’ll think I’ll try to reply one by one!

    You’re right, Doyle is far from the complete package – but I yeah, he’d definitely bring more with another addition (and he would bring more than Heskey).

    I think our four centre backs are all fantastic options to have. But I have agreed that Cuellar is excellent in the centre – I just think if we’re going to stick with him at right back, we may as well sell him. But NO!! Curtis Davies is the key!
    And I’ll admit that Ivanovic was extremely ambitious, but these are the sort of players we need at this stage (and if we come 4th or 5th, then we may become more marketable).

    Only suggested a loan move for Rafael.

    Yeah, I’m gutted I mentioned Carrick and he has been a passenger but I think we’d be better with two box-to-box midfielders and I’d suggest he could be better with a smaller club.

    It’s hard to tell with Harry Redknapp though – he wanted rid of Pavlyuchenko, but that seems to have worked out rather fortunately!

    Do you think we could get Petrov?? If so – DEFINITELY. Imagine we had him and Joe Cole (is this unrealistic too?)…

  5. Chris C

    I heard a vicious rumour that young is going to man city while milner heads to OT. Makes sense as the cash would be pretty good for a selling club like villa. Perhaps they could become the new feeder club for the manchester teams.

  6. Shea donnelly

    I must say scone I was dissapointed when I read this article. I was actually taking u seriously until I read this column. I feel your transfer targets show a terrible lack of judgement and I’m glad your not Aston villa manager. So let go through them:

    – ivanovic?? Why the hell would he want to join villa? Why would Chelsea sell him? Do Aston villa need to waste money on more defenders? Ridiculous to say the least.

    Rafael- even worse choice than ivanovic. Would united ever loan such a promising talent put who has started more than 20 games as right back this season? No way at all. Keep dreaming.

    Carrick- of course carrick would command a place in the villa team and would be the 1st name on the teamsheet once milner has been sold in a part exchange deal but carrick wouldn’t be happy trying to qualify for the champions league when he has a winner and runners up medals in his trophy cabinet. Too good for villa sorry conan.

    Keane- why villa? Where has this come from? And he really wouldn’t want the move should spurs finish above villa.

    Boyd- who the he’ll is Boyd?? I thought villa where supposed to be a club on the up? Why could you possibly want a mediocre player like Boyd? I would take Heskey over him anyday.

    Wright philips- man city won’t sell him. Especially not to villa.

    So to sum all this up conan I’m sorry but I feel your transfer targets are unrealistic and totally stupid to say the least. Let’s hope for every villa fan in the country that you never get the chance to influence villas goings-on in the transfer market!!!

  7. Mark

    Great post imo and I think your a bit harsh shea…..surely these are the players we must aim for to improve?? Ivanovic and r da silva may be a bit to much on the ambitious side but say in the case of SWP, Keane and Carrick, all three are at clubs that will be no doubt planning big transfers for the summer so they might well fancy a move and we must surely be worth consideration for any ambitious player. I agree that Doyle would be a good squad addition but I just cant see him getting games. Maybe someone like Tom Huddleston would be worth a look, he’s a beast of a player who would really add an extra tactical option to midfield.
    Or maybe I’m stupid and totally unrealistic too?
    Thanks again Conan.

  8. Haha – not to worry Mark. Shea’s in fact nothing more than a local Liverpool supporter in my area – but it’s well known that his football knowledge is extremely limited and that the taste in his mouth grows more bitter with every point that separates Liverpool from Villa.

    I think Huddlestone would be a superb addition – we’re crying out for that sort of player, but I heard Hazza Redknapp during the week saying that only Lampard and Gerrard are better contenders for the England midfield spot! So if he actually believes that, it’d be hard to steal him away (but maybe he’s just talking him up).

    I’m really excited about these Joe Cole rumours but it might be one wish too far.

    And clearly we need a real deadly finisher but it’s difficult to find both exciting and realistic forwards.

  9. Mark

    I know a few of those myself. Haha!

    This is true but Redknapp’s record does show he has a habit of selling players he rates if offered enough for him to get the opportunity to bring in his own targets, which he has no doubt identified.

    Concerning the Joe Cole rumours I agree it may be wishfull thinking but then again his most likley alternitive would be city, which would free up the likes SWP or even Stephan Ireland who seems uneasy under Mancini. I may be wrong but one can hope eh?

    Finding a forward to fit that description will be MON’s biggest challenge so far.

  10. Shea donnelly

    Mark/Conan

    The two of you are so pathetic I actually feel sorry for you. Poor old AV fans always being too optimistic as soon as they put a few wins together. A “lucky” few wins at that. If it hadn’t have been for a diving agbonlahor and a one sided referee then ur champions league hopes would have all but vanished.

    And as for your transfer blabbering….

    They just get worse don’t they??

    Joe Cole from Chelsea to villa?? I’m not even going to comment on that one!! Let’s just say I wouldn’t want to move from Barcelona to Barnsley!

    Perhaps the best midfielder in the world (mascherano) would go to av aswell!

    • Mark

      Villa 6th 64pts
      Liverpool (supposedly top 4 team) 7th 62pts.

      Stats dont lie…..luck has nothing to do with it. =P

  11. Shea donnelly

    We won it 5 times hey we won it 5 times.

    Liverrpooooll Liverpooooollll… The greatest club in the world

    and well defs win the league next year!

  12. Celtic_Villan

    this is cringe now…

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