You could argue that Tim Sherwood saved Aston Villa from a likely relegation to the Championship after Paul Lambert struggled to build a winning formula at Villa Park. Sherwood’s main objective when he took over in February, was to solely keep them up, anything more would be seen as a bonus – he done that and he then delighted the Villa faithful with a marvellous cup run which eventually saw them fall short at Wembley in the FA Cup Final losing 4-0 to Arsenal. Villa were powerless in that game, but they showed fantastic spirit to get there and to stay up in the league.
Now, after guiding them to safety, Sherwood faces the same difficult challenge of keeping the once-crowned European Cup champions in the world’s most elite football division. Key players such as Fabian Delph, who initially pledged his future to Villa for an extra four-and-a-half-years, and powerful striker Christian Benteke have both left, moving to Manchester City and Liverpool respectively. This suggests the possibility of another problematic season for Villa, but funds will be made available and they need to be used wisely. A transfer window will never be so important for the claret and blue club.
Position – 17th
The successes of last season for Aston Villa was reaching the FA Cup Final and ensuring their place in the Premier League, all thanks to the hard work of the ex-Tottenham Hotspur boss Tim Sherwood. He showed huge amounts of faith in the youngsters – very much like Lambert did – and they have all now become comfortable in playing regular football in the Premier League. Lambert was sacked by the Aston Villa board in February, leaving the historic club in 18th position and giving his successor an incredible challenge. Sherwood succeeded in this role, winning 5 games, enough to keep them up with 38 points, and he will now hope to kick on with Villa to bigger and better things.
Will they improve?
This question cannot be fully answered until we see how Sherwood spends the money from the Delph and Benteke transfers. Without spending in the right positions, relegation looms frightfully. The days of European football with Martin O’Neil are long gone. Whilst their defence seems pretty stable with the recent additions of former England international Micah Richards and French 21-year-old Jordan Amavi, along with Jores Okore and the ever improving Ciaran Clark, they still lack numbers in the attacking positions. Christian Benteke now joins Andreas Weimann, Darren Bent and Nicklas Helenius in a list of strikers to have left The Villains over the summer. This gives us a clear indication that money needs to be spent in this position, as Gabriel Agbonlahor, despite his remarkable experience, will not be trusted as the man to the score goals. His goals have dried up over the last few years and Villa’s season, and whether they will improve, really does rely on what striker(s) they bring in.
Jack Grealish –
After the sales of both Delph and Benteke, Villa fans will look towards Jack Grealish for the answers on the pitch. Grealish, who is still only nineteen, impressed in a loan spell at Notts County, and ever since then he has grown from strength to strength.
Grealish ended the 2014/15 Premier League season with seventeen appearances, a pass competition rate of 93% and he created eighteen chances. With a full season, uninterrupted with injuries, the Solihull-born midfielder could have a wonderful season and will flourish in a regular starting position.
Jordan Ayew –
Aston Villa have had a £12million bid accepted by Lorient for the Ghanaian striker Jordan Ayew. Ayew, whose brother Andre signed for Swansea this summer, scored 13 goals last campaign after he ended a five-year spell at Marseille. He has played 28 times for Ghana, scoring 8 times. He is set for a medical in the coming days.
Emmanuel Adebayor –
The first of two players that Sherwood could sign from his former club Tottenham, Adebayor would cost in the region of £4million, bringing a wealth of experience to the club. The Togo striker has scored 96 goals in the Premier League for Arsenal, Manchester City and Spurs and he would be keen to work with one of the only managers since Arsene Wenger to trust him. There is a massive downside to signing the 31-year-old: his wage demands could be out of reach for Villa.
Charlie Austin –
Probably the best player available to Villa right now, Charlie Austin would bring his deadly finishing to the West Midlands after failing to keep Queens Park Rangers in the Premiership. The ex-Burnley forward was the second highest scoring English player in the Premier League, after Harry Kane, with 18 goals. He could cost up to £15million, but he will be worth every penny.
Yannick Bolasie –
This pacey, tricky winger just won’t stop improving for Crystal Palace and he has now attracted interest from Tottenham, West Ham and Aston Villa, highlighting his ability. The DR Congo international joined Palace in 2012, playing more than 100 times for the South London side – and Alan Pardew will want him to increase that figure as he wants him to stay at Selhurst Park. Whilst it would be a very good signing for Villa, it would work out quite expensive for them, but it will definitely be worth the risk.
Tom Carroll –
Another player Sherwood has coached whilst in North London, Tom Carroll would be seen as a replacement for Fabian Delph. Villa have already spent £6 million on midfielder Idrissa Gueye, therefore Carroll could potentially come in on a loan deal to keep developing as a footballer. The 23-year-old enjoyed time at Swansea last campaign and has expressed his interest in moving away from Spurs again to gain a starting role.
Prediction for the 2015/16 season:
A hard season awaits The Villains and if they don’t spend wisely they could be playing their football in the second tier of English football for the first time since 1988. It is evident they need a prolific striker – maybe even two – to help try and move them up the table. Additionally, a couple more signings in midfield look possible for Sherwood’s team, giving them a fairly solid squad, but still miles away from a top-half finish. A mid-table finish would be deemed successful, yet they will probably just beat the drop like last season. 15th-17th is a strong outcome.