On the 16th April, regarding potential Aston Villa Summer signings, I wrote this:
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…
However, I then went on to explain why I thought Carrick would make a great addition to our first team squad and was quoted as saying that he could bring “panache and more ability to change games” for our top-4-challenging outfit. For this, I am extremely regretful and I would like to rescind any positive word I have had to say about this player, and indeed any wild claim I may have made that he could be of any use to Aston Villa. Instead, if everyone could please refer to the first cut-out on this piece and my 4 years of relentless slandering when trying to work out my thoughts on the former Spurs man.
Not only is it laughable that he was even selected for the squad off the back of his poorest season to date; but the fact that Michael Carrick was given 62 minutes to ply his underprivileged trade for the national team in their penultimate game before the World Cup defies all logic. With Gareth Barry injured, Carrick was ridiculously given another chance to shine, but instead opted to once again cower in the shadows. All season long (and less noticeably, the previous 3 seasons – because Utd were winning), the 28 year old has been rushing his passes, sinking deep, and turning his back to the ball (I’m no manager but I’d hazard a guess that this isn’t a good thing for a central midfield player to be doing). Moreover, when ‘M.C’ reluctantly receives possession in the opponents third, he uses all his skill and effort to scramble the ball backwards to his partner, or slow the whole thing down and push it out to a marked wide man. Shirking responsibility, dripping with anxious sweat and bringing nothing but the sideways dimensions of a timid crab to the country’s biggest club, it’s an embarrassing disgrace that the legendary Old Trafford number 16 was handed down to Michael Carrick.
By the way: I don’t want Villa to sign him anymore…
The fact that I suggested him in the first place goes a long way to questioning my player judgement, and it certainly undermines the integrity of this blog! And the next name on the list of my Villa targets, unfortunately, doesn’t help my case: Branislav Ivanovic. Yes, wouldn’t that be a lovely addition? It also looks like Cesc Fabregas is unsettled in London so we should be tapping into that market as well, shouldn’t we? In fairness, at the time of writing; Ivanovic, as quality a player he is, was certainly not in Chelsea’s long term first team plans. With Belletti, Essien, Mikel, Paulo Ferreira and Bosingwa; Ancelotti had, in my mind, 5 other players in line to step onto the pitch ahead of Ivanovic (and the Yugoslavian still wouldn’t get into Chelsea’s strongest XI). Little did I know, however, that the secret was already out; that everyone knew of his talent and that he was then going to go and win a place in the PFA Team of the Year. I think it’s clear that Ivanovic will have other, more fulfilling options on his plate than Aston Villa; and at that, I don’t think we could even afford to lure him anyway.
Moving on, as time has slipped by; I have become increasingly unenthused by the prospect of Kris Boyd and could see why the masses of fans would do too. Nevertheless, upon further reading of my first transfer article, I can see why I suggested him. With a goal in almost every 1.3 games, at 26, and available for under £3m, I do think it is a brainless purchase for a team with a terminal ability to finish.
Another goal for Kevin Doyle on Tuesday night furthers my belief that he could do twice the job Emile Heskey does; but as Wolverhampton’s main man, I’d be very wary of his price tag. I wonder if we could execute a swap deal with Mick McCarthy’s men, and if so, I hope they don’t realise what they’re giving out and what they’re taking off us in return.
I’m delighted to see the spread of the Keane-to-Villa talk and I stand by my other wish list target Rafael Da Silva. I would also be interested in the acquisition of twin brother Fabio (on loan as well) as they are two great ball players who could add different dimensions to our predictable attack from wingback and allow MON to change things around when we’re having trouble breaking teams down (particularly at home).
More importantly, I fully believe that Aston Villa can actually benefit from the uncontrollable spending of Manchester City. As their squad grows bigger and more expensive, it pushes quality (but less luxurious) names closer to the fringes with each transfer window; and I think in Aston Villa, these 6 suggestions (5 of which are homegrown) could find the haven and assurance of a club with the same ambitions. Shaun Wright-Phillips, and all his inconsistencies, would still provide an excellent option in a squad who use just two wingers. Likewise, Martin Petrov has serious, serious talent and despite being 31, he would be an inspired addition to any team, at any time in the game. The signing of these two players would also mean that we would have 4 dangerous wingers (2 right footed; 2 left footed) battling it out for just 2 positions, and helping MON affect real change in match situations, aside from his customary ‘Heskey for Carew’ trick (or vice versa if he’s feeling bold).
Moreover, the constant desire to splash the cash at Eastlands could result in City’s disillusioned sub-24 club turning their heads and having a look at the thriving, young, and British based players helping Villa keep up to speed in the Premier League rat race. Players like Nedum Onouha, Micah Richards, and Michael Johnson can only be impressed with how well O’Neill has developed the careers of compatriots Gareth Barry, James Milner, Ashley Young, Gabby Agbonlahor and Curtis Davies; and to be offered the prospect of plying your trade on a regular basis for a top 6 club with a strong English core, must surely be tempting to these young international hopefuls. And in spite of his price tag, the 23 year old Stephen Ireland is, in my opinion, set to take his place amongst some of the Premier League greats. Technically gifted and an inescapable thorn in the opposition’s side, want-away Ireland would definitely prove to be an absolute bargain as City refuse to acknowledge what’s in their midst.
Having retracted some names from my earlier wish-list, I have now proposed the signature of 11 players. It may be audacious to ask for this; but considering the outgoing staff we will record, the fact that we played the fewest number of players (again) in the league, and the speed at which the other clubs are looking to step on, we need to really consider immensely boosting the supply to our first XI, if we are to fulfil Mr Lerner’s Champions League objectives.
|Transfers In||Estimated Spend||Transfers Out||Estimated Income|
|Rafael da Silva||Loan||Luke Young||£3m|
|Fabio da Silva||Loan||Nicky Shorey||£3m|
|Nedum Onouha||£6m||Carlos Cuellar||£6.5m|
|Micah Richards||£10m||Habid Beye||£1m|
|Michael Johnson||£8m||Steve Sidwell||£4m|
|Stephen Ireland||£10m||Marlon Harewood||£1m|
|Shaun Wright-Phillips||£7m||Emile Heskey||£2m|
The ‘Estimated Spend’ is simply what I would value each player at (based on their previous transfers, age and status) and if I was manager, what I would fork out for each. The ‘Estimated Income’ (which includes some players I don’t want to see leaving) is purely what I think we could hold off for and receive for each.
So I’m asking for good old Randy to dip into his pockets and find £43m lying around!
This, of course, would probably be too much to expect (although he did say if the right opportunity arose for a world-class player, then he could finance it) even though City and Spurs are likely to dominate the market again. On another note, I have suggested players of similar quality and position and if needs be, we could quite easily just choose 3 out of the 6 City players: one of Onouha and Richards; one of Johnson and Ireland; and one of SWP and Petrov. And although I would love to see all 6 coming on board, if we disregarded 3 of these players, that could save up to £27m (bringing the net spend tally right down to £16m).
I also refused to put the names of my two favourite players into the ‘Transfers Out’ Column. We are all aware of the potential revenue a James Milner sale could provide and I don’t care if he is 30, I would expect a respectable price tag to be put on the services of our most experienced player and most talented striker John Carew. With the sale of these two, we could finance my wish-list and then some. But in an ideal world, Villa would look to keep every player not listed in the table, and add them to the quality of my proposed transfer targets. Do that; and I think in the near future, a top 4 finish will be the most modest of our dreams. But whether we can do that this summer; remains to be seen.