The season’s winding down, another match without Jack, and calls for the youth after another impressive Cup performance. And all eyes are turning firmly to the summer window.

Naturally, I understand the calls to blood some of the kids at this point. It’s one of those things that seem to make sense. Me, I have no idea whether it actually does. Some obvious pros, perhaps a couple of cons.

As for the pros, well they’re pretty obvious: We’ve got some real up-and-coming talent, other clubs are keeping tabs, and the players will be wanting a taste of the action. Supporters obviously worry that if they don’t get some first-team minutes and encouragement for the future, they may want to find those somewhere else.

And it’s not wrong to think that if the season has sort of plateaued, it’s the perfect time. No real pressure, and good, hard competitive outings against top opposition. We look at other young players who’ve been handed debuts at similar ages.

On the con side: As Dean Smith said during the week (it was this week, I think), it’s one thing to look good against other kids, quite another going up against seasoned pros. The case apparently is there to be made in training against the seniors. Reading between the lines, he’s not quite seeing them ready to make the step up.

This could be for any number of reasons. Perhaps not showing they’re up to the pace/tempo. Perhaps not quite there with the physicality. Perhaps not quite thinking quickly enough. Perhaps a little cowed.

Naturally we know Compass are investing in the youth, and we know they want that to bear fruit. So we know Dean is quite aware of that, too. Whether there’s “pressure” to play them, I don’t know. But that’s the stewardship part of the manager’s job.

And from a motivated self-interest perspective, I’m sure Dean would love to have a couple ‘kids’ break through to stretch the transfer budget and squad depth. Given the way he seems to approach the first-team squad (you wouldn’t see so many contract extensions if the players didn’t like and trust him), you like to think the youth are in good hands.

There’s also the matter of senior players getting what may be their last chance to prove themselves. Part of keeping the dressing room together is players feeling like they’re treated fairly and that the starting XI is based on merit. And by all accounts, Elmo and Taylor are popular and well-respected, model professionals who know their roles, understand where they’re at in their careers, and do a lot behind the scenes.

So, there’s a lot to balance. I won’t pretend to know more than I do about any of these young players. I’ve seen some highlights, etc., and certainly see the promise. But I don’t see training or have any idea about their maturity, strength, etc.

The other trick is that Villa will likely be looking to spend on instant-impact players to lift the starting XI and push for Europe.

That means as far as the senior players go, there’s also lot to consider. Ghazi and Traoré. Luiz and Nakamba. Elmo and Taylor. Keinan Davis. And while McGinn remains a fan favorite, I’m sure he’s going to want to stitch together some better all-round performances heading into the break. Ross Barkley? The fact he started last week says to me Smith isn’t giving up on the season, though maybe starting Ross at this point makes it seem like he has.

It could well be that minds have been made up on some of these players. Putting aside Trez’s injury, I seriously doubt whether he or Ghazi really have a future at the club. Traoré, to my mind, may very well become a sub next season. Davis, probably out on loan, but maybe not. Is there any possible future for Barkley? Wesley obviously remains a huge question mark, so is another striker option being considered? Will Barry be auditioning during the summer? Would Ollie go wide?

And, perhaps biggest of all, is there any desire to move Jack into the middle? Or are the staff looking for an upgrade behind him while targeting a number 10? If a move is on the cards, then there are all sorts of dominoes that would follow.

Me, I’d expect Elmo to either move on, retire, or take a back-room role, with Guilbert and Kesler battling it out over the summer to back up Cash. But maybe Guilbert has already been ruled out. Hourihane? One assumes he’ll be moving on, however many nice things have been said, and if he does, no one will wish him anything but the best.

The biggest opportunity or need at the back will be an understudy for Targett, and likely a CB to replace Engels. I don’t think anyone can see Taylor being kept on. And there’s also going to be a battle for the #2 spot behind Emi because we all expect Tom Heaton to want out for a starting spot elsewhere.

Lots of moving pieces, which means that we might see some youngsters come off the bench, might not. I’m not going to be upset if we don’t see them play, because I have no choice but to trust Smith and the rest of the staff. They’re the ones paid to worry about it, they’re the ones answering to Compass. We know Dean has a pretty good eye, and isn’t shy about spending on young talent with the right attributes who haven’t played at the top level. Which means I don’t think he’s predisposed against the youth. He’s got more riding on getting that mix right than anyone.

Moving to Everton, no idea what we’ll see tomorrow. Many will expect or demand that Keinan start. I can understand, but I can also understand Smith not wanting to change formation. Or understand him saying, “Right, why not? He’s earned it, let’s see what he’s got over 60-90.”

The match-ups will play a big part in that decision, as will tactical considerations regarding a four-man midfield, or even (much less likely), a 3-5-2. Smith will want any positive momentum he can get in these last few games. I don’t think he’s going to change things up just to see the kids unless he really thinks they’ll step in and do a job. If he’s not giving Keinan starts, then…It’s probably still a bit down the road for them.

All I know is that I’m glad it isn’t my responsibility to make these decisions.

Over to you.

Comments 128

  1. Well JC, that’s what Deano is paid handsomely for. If he doesn’t pick them, they are not ready. Can’t wait to see his team selection tomorrow. Guess it will be much the same as usual.

  2. And Smith on Carney, courtesy the Mail:

    “He’s got a pathway at the football club,” Smith said. “He’s got a plan at the football club. He’s doing extremely well. He’s training with the first-team regularly. He’s been on the bench for us. He’s been in a number of squads and he’s doing excellently. We’re really pleased with his progress so far.”

    Yes, there has to be a little bit of… He’s doing very well in age-football at the moment and I recall watching Wayne Rooney play against Aston Villa in the FA Youth Cup final in 2002…

    I remember watching the game and he developed very quickly as a player. Our job is finding that balance for their development; the maturation of the players. Carney’s in a good place with us at the moment training with us and he’s enjoying his football. You could see against Newcastle (FA Youth Cup quarter-final) he was the standout player.”

  3. One thing I would say about the reported Bayern and Dortmund interest (Bellingham, etc)…Probably a bit easier to be introduced in the Bundesliga, especially in a top side.

  4. JC, I’m with you and Plug in trusting DS to introduce the youngsters when they’re ready. He’s not going to do it just to keep fans happy and rightly so.
    Emotionally, of course we all want to see some of these players being given a chance to step up but we’ve seen before that fans who are deeply critical of the manager for not introducing young players can be the self same fans who berate young players when they don’t meet their inflated expectations. This alone is reason not to rush the youngsters to the front line before they’re ready.
    You can bet that these young players are seeing, and loving the social media praise they’re receiving right now, but can you imagine how harmful it could be to a young ego to read the dispiriting commentary from some anonymous armchair critics who will enjoy telling us all how the players are over-hyped and should be sold on?
    Everyone would love to see a stream of Jack Grealishes coming from the academy, but Jack is exceptional and whilst we ‘may’ unearth one or more Jack’s, we should also be grateful for the occasional Mark Albrighton (who by the way came in for huge criticism from ‘fans’. . . . . Until he left of course!)

  5. Thanks JC- Lets not forget that the team we have is young and green not quite the fertile ground Foden was introduced through at City or Bellingham at Bayern, both are exceptional players in their own right anyway, is Chuck on that level? Introducing Youngsters into a team finding their way without Jack seems like the dumbest idea to me but hey.

  6. Good thoughts…

    Will be an interesting game tonight. If we are chasing, I’d like to see Dean make changes earlier, like you say, see what happens. Might be easier on my nerves.

  7. MK,

    Yes, pointing to players like Foden, they’re very few and far between. And getting slipped into such good teams means you can have those games where you’re largely invisible, have no creative burden, etc. Just receive and pass, mark, run, get used to it all.

    For as good as Foden looked against us, I’ve seen plenty of games where he’s just another cog, fading in and out, and its okay, because he doesn’t have to be a star. Plenty of those around him.

  8. r0bb0,

    You’re very much right about the spotlight, the expectations, the critics. With no Jack, it’s only amplified, and people will be thinking “Chuk, c’mon, do something special, save us.”

    No idea about each of these players’ minds, how confident they really are. Jack always had the talent and confidence, but he didn’t really come on until after that (spleen?) injury. Something clicked in his head, he did the training, the diet, got so much stronger, got the party-boy side sorted, and decided he was going to be the man. Now he almost oozes arrogance. In a good way.

    I certainly think Ramsey would be having more influence/impact if Jack were in. He gives everyone more confidence.

  9. I think that with the shocking news that star player Trez is out for up to 9 month the club will have build around someone else . Its a damn shame when he was just coming into his own, jack will have to stay now.

  10. Aston Villa
    Martinez, Cash, Konsa, Mings (c), Douglas Luiz, McGinn, Watkins, Traore, Targett, Barkley, El Ghazi.

    Subs: Heaton, Taylor, Wesley, Nakamba, El Mohamady, Hause, Davis, Ramsey, Philogene-Bidace.

  11. I don’t even have the energy to moan about keeping the same formation, playing Barkley. Deano did it with drink water too. Kept on and on playing him with only injury forcing the Change. Predictable.

    Hope we do have a clear pathway for chuck and he doesn’t get frustrated and bugger off in the summer.

  12. H&V, we all expect Elmo to go but your comment suggested it had ready been confirmed. I’ll withdraw my apologies 🙂
    My point was not that he won’t go . . . . Just that he’s been a good back up for us and personally I’d keep him for another season. There are other positions where I reckon our owner’s money could be better spent.

  13. Barkley is on a one man mission. Like Jdb above says. but first 30 mins awful. Perked up last 10 but still. Watkins I have no words, just relentless. Should of had a hat trick! El ghazi bad as usual. Luiz off the pace too. Davis on and Watkins on the left please.

  14. Great to hear we’re playing well
    Pissed off I can’t see it but I’d rather we played well and miss seeing it than the other way round!

  15. Last two games we have been played possession confident football, first time since Jack went out. They have found their rhythm, Barkley has made a difference. We should be able to attract good ball players in the summer, let’s finish strong.

  16. Can’t complain about AEG goal threat but I wish he would stop his cry baby wimp side. Barkley put in a steady game after letting in DCL. Could we still possibly have it in mind to sign him?

  17. Congratulations to Dean and the boys. A great fighting effort tonight and some good football. So good to see us up for it, and a great goal for El Ghazi.

    Best display from Barkley since coming back from his in jury.

    Ollie MOTM again tonight. Never stopped from the first whistle to the last. Traore and El Ghazi both giving good performances tonight and no weak links.
    Well done once again. Maybe we can really push on now until the end of the season!

  18. Yeah, fair play to Barkley today, especially in 2nd half. He was class. If he plays like that over next 5 games then maybe he’s worth 20m

  19. jbd,

    It’s a funny one, Ross. Started to show signs of himself the last two. Dean defo wants to keep giving him a chance to prove himself. Still don’t think it’s worth £40m versus trying to convince a Buendia to come, but…

    But it’s clear we want to go out and win, keep trying to progress without Jack. I think today was an example of why he isn’t playing the youth just yet.

  20. JC its exactly why he is not playing the youth. As a side note We have almost carbon copy recovered like Newcastle have who got the C word in December. As the Commentator said we were the only Club that had our training ground closed down.

  21. Barkley and Abraham double signing for say £60mill? Could Villa compete for Buendia (or Sarr). Suspect those two would prefer a London club.

  22. Barkley had a steady game and kept things simple – but Everton aren’t really a physical side and didn’t really pressurise him.

  23. Stoked. A great advert for the EPL with an open game and two teams going for it. El Gassy frustrates the crap out of me. Again, the game passes him by and then he pulls out that strike to win it.

    How much is Ollie worth now? Another top showing, he might have had a hat trick. Much more like it Villa. Much better passing and possession than of late.

    Time for a jug of ale.

  24. What a strange game. Second half I didn’t think was great at all. John mcguinn in injury time playing that ball made me so angry!

    But the tempo, intention was back to the form we was in before Christmas. I thought the full backs were great.

  25. If it wasn’t toffees at goodison not sure we are winning that. I thought we were very stand off ish in defence. Just kept backing off, konsa seems to of gone of the boil a bit. Traore I thought worked very hard. And el ghazi. What’s there to say. He is such an enigma. Strange strange player . Was lucky to be still on the pitch but the guy does have technique hitting the ball, can’t stand off him. Holgate was awful, Watkins absolute terrorised him.

  26. H&V,

    A very funny game. Could’ve had four first half, then a cagey and scrappy second half.

    There were a lot of misplaced passes and silly decisions, poor clearances, etc., but the energy was there to make up for it, and Everton couldn’t muster a real response. Don’t think Emi really had much of anything to do other than the save on DCL. They got in threatening positions, and the delivery was good, but no end product.

    Emi will probably want that corner back. If he’d stayed higher, he probably saves it. But the opportunity was on Ross.

  27. Robbo- for whatever reason the team looked liked they had awoken from a deep slumber, passing was crisp and accurate (mostly) movement good and tireless and apart from some great saves and the woodwork the finishing was excellent I’d say we have exited the Covid tunnel.

  28. Didn’t think Barkley was all that tonight. Better but that’s not hard and it was against toffees. Ollie Watkins was outstanding. If we can get jack back ASAP, give the youth more of a run out and Wesley more minutes it’s could re start us.

  29. Ghazi is very frustrating. He’s got a great strike on him…very composed and well-taken chance.

    He just ends up trying to take on players too much and turning it over. I like the intention, but watching the film, he has to see there are simpler/safer options that don’t lead to counters being launched.

    When Jack carries it, it frees Ghazi up, and they link up very well. He can be a dangerous player, but he does come and go.

  30. Think with el ghazi it can be frustration too that we are quick to criticise. Well I am. Cause you see him and he has every attribute. Tall, strong, quick, brought up at Ajax and shows as his technique is nice striking a ball. But its mainly his brain and decision making lets him down. No consistency.

  31. Over the past 10 games (without Jack) we’re 13th in the form table. So even without Jack, and during our poorest form, we’re still doing a fair bit better than last year. I know we’ve been saying it all season, but the progression is there to be seen. With Jack back plus the injection of a bit more quality and we could be firmly top half next season

  32. Would love to see Axel T at Villa Park but would he accept being behind Konsa? It would be grossly unfair to play him at RB and I’m sure he wouldn’t come for that. Injury prone?

  33. jbd,

    Can’t see him coming to play right back the way we set up. Maybe a back three?

    Regardless, he would have to fight for a place. Haven’t followed him since he left, but he was definitely injury prone with us.

  34. My thinking on el Gazi and Trezuguet is their desire to do their very best and end up doing too much where the simpler thing would work better. I see improvement in El Gazi as he gets more minutes. Becoming less likely to make those mistakes. He needs a bit more time, definitely not the door next transfer season. He’s definitely is a better option than Hourihane.
    Elmo, one more year, he’s a real steady Eddie.
    Barkley is starting to come good after a crappy winter of covid and injury. I would keep him but not for 40 mill. Like what was said earlier 20 mill would work for me.
    I don’t think we need Abrahamson. He’s very good but Villa is well stocked in the striker position and the money can be better spent elsewhere.
    Engels is a funny one. Always good enough for the bench but never to play. If anyone needs time on the pitch it’s him. He wasn’t a bad player last year then got hurt. I’d be a little pissed if I was him. Loan him out don’t sell him.

  35. Dean Smith, post match, referred to the critics of him and the team and those that were suggesting that the players were already ‘on the beach’. You’d hope that he’d ignore the keyboard critics but whenever a manager refers to such things it suggests to me that it has got to them, to some extent at least.
    He comes across as a very self-aware individual and I’m guessing he is also quite self-critical which is why he recognises that trait in Ollie Watkins too.
    Talking of Ollie Watkins, He must be very much in the frame for the Euros now. You imagine that he’s a key reason for Southgate turning up to our games these days.

  36. It seems we’ve hit the woodwork more than any other team this season and Ollie must be still topping the player list for that stat too. It wouldn’t have taken too many of those to be just inside the woodwork for us to have been a few places even higher in the table.
    Goal difference is usually a pretty good indicator of where a team should be in the table and by that measure, we ought to be a bit higher . . . as should Brighton. We’ve scored more goals than Everton and conceded fewer, so even without Jack for a third of the season, we could easily have been top 8 and knocking on the door of Europe which is so much better than any fan would have anticipated ( even those that want Dean Smith out)

  37. Ian, I’d agree with all your comments there. The only trouble is that, with a couple of the youth players possibly stepping up into the senior squad, it might not leave too many slots to be filled with exciting new talent!

  38. r0bb0,

    Dean’s very self-aware, yes. He hears it every day from family, friends. He’s no different than any of us, regular guy, rooted in the club. He knows everything said and felt.

  39. And just because he’s one of us doesn’t make him a genius. But.

    He truly loves the club, isn’t a mercenary, and is a very good coach/manager. Has the courage of his convictions, and in reacting, yes, he’s letting us know he hears us. And he’s also letting us know he’s going to keep doing it his way.

    Nothing but respect for that.

  40. Well this throws up some conundrums, have we just witnessed the team coming out of the effects of the Covid period? the whole speed of the game, passing and speed of thought/decision making went up a level, possibly better than with Jack as we went very quickly through the gears. Barkley looked like he was almost back to himself, that surely cannot be accounted for by it being Everton and that he could suddenly be bothered?

    If you go and look at Newcastle recently they have enjoyed a very good month after looking dead and buried. They had 18 down with Covid a month before us, so on that timeline we are where they were at the start of April. If there is any correlation or even causation to this then the last few games give us a very good chance to win a few more.

    I would say Full recovery has allowed us to implement what Smiths had them working on for a good while, our attacking play.

    The other thing is now we could suddenly discover that half our team are not in need of binning at all and whatever the plans the club have for the summer they could well change.

  41. MK, one swallow, a summer doth not make. I need to see a few more improved displays before I’m convinced it was all down to Covid. Surely every team was affected to some degree by it.

    Still saw things at Goodison that I didn’t like but overall, a better performance than of late.

  42. I’m sure Deano has not switched off entirely from social media. Otherwise he’d be burying his head in the sand. But you don’t have to know all of the crap that flies about. Although much of it can be ignored, it’s always necessary to know how the fans feel.

    My guess is the current status among fans overall is neutral to good.

  43. Plug- all teams were to some extent but us and Newcastle copped it the worst. By that I mean we had 9-10 players isolating for ten days at once with no regular training and maybe even feeling ill, not all felt unwell although that does not mean their lungs and hearts don’t get some damage, that much is known for this viral infection anyway. Not having symptoms just means you didn’t feel unwell.

    What compounds any effects of Covid is detraining, lack of stimulus, we did not play for 20 days then played 6 games in 18 days, that would fuck an Elephant up.

    “During COVID-19 home confinement, athletes are
    likely exposed to some level of detraining (i.e. the partial or
    complete loss of training-induced morphological and physiological adaptations), as a consequence of insufficient and/or
    inappropriate training stimuli [1]. Such changes may result
    in impaired performance and increased injury risk”

    So its not just the catching of the Virus its the inability to regain fitness in season while games are being played once detrained. The accumulation of micro injuries and fatigue causes bigger injuries and quite likely what we have seen, lethargy , players off of their game.

    Lastly as I said the other week the Sun has also hit the right angles at last to produce VitD in us (yes that is a real thing ) and its other benefits, the players will have been out in it for a few weeks now so it all adds up.

  44. So happy with the performance last night DS clearly working on patens of play and we actually looked like a team rather than a one man team … loads of touches in and around the box and lots of forward passes …. we even beat the press with pass and movement a few times

    looking forwards to our next game

  45. Runtings- yes that boots a couple of criticisms in the googlies, one that DS cannot coach and two that he was somehow teaching them how not to pass.

  46. R0bb0
    That’s a nice problem. Young talent keeping out other talent. It bodes well for cup games and Europe. Plenty of skill so the club doesn’t get knackered.
    I think at the end of the year we will find out the extent of the Virus’s damage mid season. Putting two and two together like we have been doing the past week or so regarding the virus we’ve come to the conclusion that Villa came through it rather well. The analogy with newcastle shows this. 9th spot ATM? How many predicted that and how many thought the worst the past 6 weeks?

  47. MK,

    I think what happens in the summer maybe doesn’t change too much. If we can play well as-is, then 3-5 additions would make us very good, and we’d actually have some depth.

  48. I like Dean saying we want to finish as high as we can. A normal thing to say, but I think he means it.

    Players trying to regain form/retain their spots, setting Europe as an achievable goal, going into summer with some momentum and confidence after a very trying season.

    They still have a lot to play for.

  49. It was very nice watching the post-match commentary, hearing that Villa were the better side, deserved the result, won the midfield battle, and wanted it more.

    Getting pegged back was a bit of a sucker punch, was great to see them not buckle and go find a winner.

    Me, I think that’s a large part of why Dean leaves subs late. He wants the players to have 90mins in them, wants them to internalize how to win and grind out results. Puts the responsibility on the starters. Ghazi was frustrating me no end, but then had that one moment of composure and shows what he has in his locker. Lovely move, too.

  50. God yeah let’s not get too excited about 1 half of attacking footy against a team terrible at home. It was great to see the tempo and intent but the some of the passing was so bad and the second half was scrappy. We still need the 3 players to come straight in the 1st team and then some depth. The prem is relentless, next season will be tough. Have to improve and not stand still.

  51. runtings,

    Indeed. One thing I liked was Luiz taking deep in the middle and turning upfield more instead of just pinging it straight back to a CB. There was some good interplay down the left where they were finding each other quickly to unlock the press, or switching play.

    Also, Mings seemed to have rediscovered some accuracy on long balls up to Ollie.

  52. H&V,

    There’ll still be incomings, so you’re not wrong. The encouraging thing is seeing them look more tuned in than they had been and linking up some nice moves. The tempo and energy was better. The game should’ve been well out of sight by halftime.

    But there were a lot of wayward passes, poor clearances, heavy touches turning it back over. Konsa has had a couple games now where he’s been the man making errors.

    What I hope it means is that with some real quality signings, we’ll be able to rotate, endure injuries, and have enough depth so a side like this can come out and get a result. A bit better base to build on than we might have been fearing.

  53. I also think yesterday puts to rest some of the silly talk out there about Dean, the coaching, whether he’s lost the dressing room, etc. They put in a shift, wanted to win, showed that things are being worked on in training.

  54. ElGhazi saying he scores those every day 9 times out of ten in training. Also said we have been practising slowing down and passing this week, in other words getting in the flow more and letting it happen rather than forcing it, that is how I would describe the way we played at times.

    Plug- even when we have won or Drawn recently it has not looked like that, more like a loan Goal and pull up the drawbridge.

  55. One aspect of training that is forgotten is no matter what you try and implement your only playing against your own team. The better your Squad is the more it tests you and drives competition and cements the ideas presented. Trying them out against real opposition is another ball game but being a top side with a top Squad helps to no end.

  56. MK,

    Wasn’t Jack or someone saying Ghazi is the best finisher at the club?

    You’re absolutely right about training. The better the challenge, the better the development/product. When you divide up and you’re still playing one of probably the best 10-15 teams in Europe/the world, that makes the regular games quite a bit easier.

  57. JC yes mate he was until Barry turned up, he is on pens for a reason. Just shows you that although he nets them in training the real thing is a bit more challenging.

  58. Can’t say anything about el ghazis goal return. It’s outstanding. 8 from 12 starts or summin.

    Was very impressed with our fullbacks yesterday. It’s one department where we have lacked in recent years. So important in modern footy too. Both have great engines and are robust. With great quality too. So much more to come from cash going forward too

  59. Carney won’t be 18 until October, but you have to think he deserves to start a game. Same with Philogene-Bidace and U23 RB. Give Louie Barry 30mins at the end of Man U game. It’ll make him a better player

  60. VillaMD- I am not so sure he does deserve to start a game, that is not the same as me being intrigued to see him in the 1st to scratch an itch. If scoring in the u18’s is now a path to the 1st then maybe Davis should be playing for them? Barry’s goals to games is better.

    Its all very tempting to want to see the kids promoted but think what that would do for moral? its been a long hard season, we have been through Isolation and endless games and have stuck with it. Now when things seem to be coming good for all those involved you get replaced by a kid? Not only that we have done very well and are the youngest side in the prem anyway.

    The players need match time together and coaching as much as Carney does. They have been told they cannot play without Jack and that must hurt, they deserve the chance to go for Europe if we can. Carney as good as he may turn out to be has not done anything to effect that, Davis has a bigger shout and he is not played.

    Usually I am a big advocate of playing the youth but I can see why smith isn’t rushing them in just yet, he see’s them in the practice setting enough to gauge their progress. These few games left are like cup finals for some of the players, it might be their last for the club or a new contract. Carney has signed a three year deal recently.

  61. Talking about players and Chances, new striker or no new striker appears to be balanced on whether Wesley is fit for purpose according to reports.

  62. H&V yes I think there are better places to put our money.

    That said we have so many good kids coming through potentially in the next 2 years that it seems criminal to buy really big. I could easily see our attack being.

    Barry watkins Bidace

    mids could be Jack/ Aaron ramsey/ Ramsey 1 / Carney/ McGinn as AM’s (plus others)

    midfield we are stacked out with potential.

    I am particularly wondering where Arjan
    Raikhy will end up playing, he looks ideal to pull the strings from Midfield if he keeps on progressing, with all the talent we have attacking wise we need someone that can play them in and he looks like the Asian Debruyne from what I have seen so far.

    I think we will buy two Wingers though at a minimum. It will depend on what we see pre-season from Wes and the kids that will guide the rest.

  63. Watching Burnley v West Ham last night brought home how much we missed out on not signing Benrahma . When we were signing Ollie, everyone was hopeful that we would sign both, and I feel if Smith had really pushed for it, he would have got his man.
    His vision is not always clear to everyone, including commentators, as last night he put beautiful passes into the box, but there was no one there to drive them home. The commentators thought that they were shots going wide, but if you watched Brentford, you would know they were not. Ollie would be in tune with him, and be heading towards receiving that incoming ball, and it would be a simple touch into the net. Ollie, Benrahma and Mbweno would work so well together, but especially Benrahma and Watkins, and we would not have missed Jack half as much.
    Our boys will get better, but West Ham have done extremely well in picking up Bowen, Lingard and Benrahma, for £40 million and a loan deal.
    I am sure we will get a decent couple of additions in the summer, and hopefully they will be a great fit for Villa.

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