When a team gets promoted from the EFL Championship to the Premier League, it’s a time for a great change around a club. They are heavily endorsed with money coming in from all various avenues of benefactors. Additionally, many pundits and experts begin to weigh in with that is the correct ‘formula’ to apply to a recently promoted club to ensure they stay up for more than one campaign.
Aston Villa have been in the English Premier League before and I agree with many people’s opinions that it is their rightful place to be in the footballing tree. However, they are in a new and unique position.
It’s the first time that Aston Villa been promoted under this new system, and the first time they will be receiving a hefty financial backing as well. Throughout this article, we will discuss and look at the right way to approach the season for the Lions which will hopefully not end in the same fate as Fulham’s did.
Stick with Dean Smith
Aston Villa fans rejoiced when Dean Smith joined the mighty Villa in October of 2018 from Brentford, taking over the leaky ship from Steve Bruce. Promoted managers are always in a fragile position, because the club and fans love them for the job they have done in the previous season, however they can often lack top-tier experience needed for the Premier League.
Norwich’s Daniel Farke and Sheffield United’s Chris Wilder are in the same boat at Dean Smith – no experience at this level of football. I strongly believe that Villa must stick with Smith through and through this season, don’t throw all planning to the wind if we lose a lot of games in the first two to three months.
Fulham had three manager changes throughout the most recent season with Slaviša Jokanović, Claudio Ranieri and Scott Parker all being in the dugout during their miserable and disruptive campaign.
Aston Villa and personally Norwich need to stick with two fairly young, hungry and innovative managers who are at their helm. If I was on the board down at Trinity Road, I would be sticking with Smith the whole way through the season no matter if we sit in a relegation battle come February or March.
Spend the remaining money sensibly
Aston Villa has so far spent the most out of the promoted teams, that is assisted by their significantly heavier backing compared to Norwich and Sheffield United’s owners. They have already signed 22-year old Brazilian Striker Wesley Morales for a reported £22.5 million pounds.
Villa have also signed promising left-back Matt Targett, Anwar El Ghazi, Jota and previously on loan defenders Kortney Hause and Tyrone Mings.
All in all, Villa have spent more than £60 million on players already, which is probably more than what the other two promoted teams will spend all season to come, and Villa are being credited with wanting a few more players to bolster their squad before opening fixture on August 11th against Tottenham.
Fulham spent £119 million last season on players, most had little to no Premier League experience. Out of all players brought in already, Targett is the only one who has played at this level. I will credit Wesley who played in the Champions League last season with Club Brugge.
Aston Villa must be intelligent with who they also bring in to this already talented squad. They need players who will compliment but not upset the morale of Jack Grealish, James Chester, Conor Hourihane and co. Jack Butland would be a very handy purchase, however the asking price is steep for a current Championship goalkeeper.
Players who are also linked such as Aaron Webster (Bristol City), Kalvin Phillips (Leeds United), Rafael Leao (Lille) and Egyptian-winger Mahmoud Trezeguet (Kasimpasa) all lack the key ingredient, Premier League experience.
Players like past loanees in Axel Tuanzebe and even Robert Snodgrass would be more ideal players who would bolster the squad. Aston Villa need to spend the money this summer, but must be smart with who they choose.
Don’t change the style of play
I personally believe that the club should stick with the attractive style of play that made them skyrocket up the ladder with ten straight wins and promotion through the play-off final at Derby’s expense.
Villa have been credited with being a defensive-minded, dire and a style with a lack inspiration in past seasons. You only need to look at how the club played under Remi Gardé, Roberto Di Matteo and recently Steve Bruce to see that we haven’t been known to play attractive football like a club such as Wolves.
Dean Smith has brought a rare ingredient to Villa Park and that is flair. Last season we were privileged to watch El Ghazi, Grealish, Hourihane, Abraham (now returned to parent club Chelsea) and Jonathan Kodjia run around the park with a sense of attacking knowhow. Aston Villa shouldn’t conform to the pressure of Premier League and adapt a new defensive style game plan. Play the way that got you to this new-found position, but keep in mind we don’t play with a three-man backline either.
The set-up of 4 – 3 – 2 – 1 is a typical formation to play, focusing on the man up top to chip in the goals. Kodjia, in the 2016-17 season with 19 goals, and Tammy Abraham in the 2018-19 season with 24 goals, were massive contributors to the club’s recent success. Now this responsibility will fall onto a new striker, one can presume that for our first visit to Tottenham’s new London Stadium, Wesley Morales will be that man up top.
Time will tell how the season unfolds for the ‘Pride of the Midlands’ club, but one thing is for sure that as a lifetime fan of this club I am excited and eager to see this new season get underway.