Been a funny window, though not historically odd, with Villa getting some early business done to see everything go quiet toward the deadline. You’d expect the debate that’s ensued.

Naturally, based on things said and the always relentless links in the press, many have expected a big influx of exciting signings this January. Especially as Unai started clearing house and talked about upgrading the squad. But, as is most often the case, useful January signings are usually elusive or very expensive. After all, no one really wants to lose good players mid-season unless they face letting them go for free in a few months’ time.

So, we’ve got “In Unai We Trust,” on one hand and “Where are all the signings?!” on the the other.

Like most everyone else, I’m not immune to getting excited about certain prospects, and when they don’t start being announced by the club it’s natural to feel a bit let down. Until you realize most of your hopes and expectations have been manufactured.

To a person, the calm heads point out our recent history, you know, the one in which we’ve gotten a lot of our signings wrong, especially in January. They point out that it’s better not to make signings for signings’ sake. That it’s better not to overpay. And, naturally, they’re right.

On the other hand, you can also reasonably ask that given our outgoings, are Villa not a bit lightweight with 18 to go?

What I’m seeing is that Emery’s made his mind up on a couple things: 1) the starting XI, by and large, and 2) the quality (and resulting financial consequences) of the squad as a whole. And it’s hard to argue with him on either count. It’s not a very deep squad, yet we’ve been carrying players bought for one reason or another who aren’t part of the plan going forward. The surplus has to go sooner or later to clear them off the books and make room on the roster. But, a couple of key injuries could cause us some problems.

There is a bit of risk involved, then, though Villa are closing in on safety. But what about Europe, final placing, and momentum? These could be irrelevant to Emery at the moment, despite the growing expectations his turnaround has fostered.

My guess is that Emery is thinking “If the current squad can finish top-half, great. But it’s more important to be able to build a better squad responsibly than overreach for instant ‘success’.” Which is a rather adult and pragmatic way of looking at it, and one I welcome.

Don’t get me wrong, I look at a number of players we’ve been linked with and would quite like them to come in. But at what cost in terms of transfer fees and contracts? Dembele may seem like a short-term no-brainer, but he could be asking for a lot of longer-term assurances Villa don’t want to make. OM may be taking the piss with their valuation of Guendouzzi. And Matteo (plus his agent, perhaps) may not really want to entertain a January move. Henrique’s another, but obviously very expensive.

And the cost of individuals is important when we hear Emery say he wants two at every position. Granted, a lot of those second-string players may be in our starting XI already, but if we’re talking £30m-£50m signings in January, we’re not going to get very far, and it surely cuts into the summer money. Fans say, “Screw the money, we’ve got plenty, just get it done!” To which I say, “Chelsea.”

We’ve not been like Brighton. And when we’ve tried, we’ve not really succeeded. But they’ve unearthed a wealth of talent on the cheap by being very clever. I’m thinking Unai wants to do that (see Jhon Duran, who’s a bit more expensive than some of Brighton’s coups), while also recognizing he needs a couple-three true impact players that can come right in. There’s lots of value out there, and there are some good established players. It’s all in the mix, and the right fits.

End of the day, I’m in the Unai-We-Trust camp. And if that means we’re done, we’re done, and I’m not too worked up about it.

Over to you.

Comments 31

  1. John, I’m in the “trust Unai” camp too. There has been a build up of players which he considers expendable and these need to be moved on before any new staff arrive. There are still plenty left to shed such as Naka, Wesley, House, Davis to name a few.

    January is notoriously dangerous for signings. If we don’t get any more incomings in the next 30 hours, then the kids can make up the bench. It may well leave us exposed, but it may not. After all, we are out of the cups and have 18 games left.

    The existing squad have shown a big improvement since Unai came in. I don’t see any danger of trouble emerging by the season’s end. On the contrary, I believe there is more upward movement yet to be gained from this squad.

  2. Good write up John. I am firmly in the Unai corner. Not to fussed if we do not add any signings before the close of the window.
    Watkins and Duran should do the job for us upfront until the summer unless the club decides to sign Dembele earlier.
    The squad has a lot of dead weight and the manager is moving them on pretty quickly.
    Finally we have a manager with excellent game management skills and supreme tactical nous. I would be surprise if we finish around 7th by the end of the season.

  3. Super write up thanks John and you can make that 4-0 so far in favour of ‘in Unai we Trust’

    Yes we’d all ‘like’ to see some exciting signings over the next 30 hours but we’ve been here before and its feeling less likely as time goes on. We have Diego, Matty Cash and John McGinn to come back so they will provide a bit more cover. The one area where we all recognise we are now a bit short is right up front, even though Emery has said that Bailey can be a stand win there.

    As you say, lot depends on our objectives for the rest of the season and with relegation now out of the picture, it’s a question of whether we really do fancy having a tilt at a European place. I’ve said before that I think it’s a year too soon and would make next year a tough, and probably uncomfortable one for all concerned.

    I’m all for patience . . . . . .and trusting Unai.



    Kourtney Hause in a Jermaine Jenus situation at Watford. Got injured in more or less his first game for Watford and won’t be available for the rest of the season and Watford will have to pay his wages for the rest of the season. Also seemingly responsible for his rehab. Seems like they are wriggling and trying to get him back to Villa. Did we try to wriggle out of the JJ loan? Don’t know if Villa were able to get any kind of insurance payout in the JJ case but seem to remember we only got JJ because he had been long term injured at Spurs and needed games to get fit!!!

    At least Watford didn’t buy Hause for £30M and have him on contract for several years w/o seeing if he is any good. Wesley at £22M also comes to mind (but that was really down to unpunished GBH)

  5. Yes JC,
    a good summary of events and situation. I am also firmly in the “In Unai we trust” camp. I am sure he is seeing some excellent potential in the squad he has got, especially some of the young talent that has returned to the club.
    If he was to bring in a load more new talent, it would make it difficult to assess what he has. I can see there being a lot more rotation between the under 21squad and the bench during the remainder of the season.
    Some of these youngsters are moving into their prime now, and at an age where they should be challenging for places, especially come the end of the season.
    I am sure that is the time for Unai to really look at what he needs for his squad. The rest of the season will become a make or break for several players.

  6. jbd,

    Transfermarkt has Carlos at €31m. No idea what the exchange rate was in July of last year.

    You’re right about Jenas. He had been out, was supposedly recovered, but needed minutes, etc.

    With Hause, just reading that he wants surgery and neither Villa nor Watford agree with him on that.

  7. PP,

    It is time for a number of younger players. Like you, curious to see what sort of look-ins they get. Course, the ones out on loan, they’ll be having to impress in the summer. Louie Barry going down a level, doesn’t look good for him. Had almost completely forgotten about him.

  8. PP. Interesting point about our youth set up playing a more prominent role in the remaining fixtures.
    I suspect that Emery will be reluctant to (in his eyes) make compromises in any league game and will therefore stick with players he knows and trusts. Putting Archer out on loan shows that any player will need to be absolutely ready before Emery is prepared for them to make the step up to the first team.
    If we are genuinely aiming for Europe this year then maybe opportunities for our youth players will be sparse, but if we’re using this season as an opportunity to prepare for a real push next year (with some incoming during the summer) then maybe some more of the youth players will actually get game time this year?

  9. dont mind at all not signing anyone and at last a manager whos says he wont bring in players for the sake of it.

    i love the cull of guilbert, nakamba, augestin, ings, bednerack

    we aint going down or getting europe so no need to panic buy.

    some wages removed and summer sign who he wants

  10. hopefully with unai at the reigns we wont be wasting millions on ransom players that do nothing!

    digne is someone who i love but with the signing of moreno its def in the flop categorty.

  11. JG, if Traore is indeed being recalled then it does seem that the hope was that we’d sign a winger but weren’t able to get the ‘right’ one for the right price so walked away. As H&V said, better that than bringing in a ‘ransom’ player.
    Be nice if Emery was now able to harness the good parts of Traore’s game.

  12. Glad we’ve got a manager who makes the most of what he has got rather than flashing the cash or developing other team’s players by getting them in on loan. Presumably he will be able to use Bertie in such a way that doesn’t require him to chase back – which just won’t happen! Excellent solution to the winger/Ings replacement problem. Could we see a Bertie revelation?

  13. Just noticed Axel Tuanzebe has gone to Stoke on loan. What could have been if he had ridden the promotion wave into Villa Park. He’s just let manure waste his ability.

    Still bugs me that we couldn’t get Tammy A. Can’t help thinking he will just fade away.

  14. Still bugs me that we coughed up £30M on Diego Costa instead of grabbing Tarkowski on a free. Wasn’t impressed by Costa in the hour he got at Bournemouth – think some people are holding out too much faith in him.

    Not too much else bugging me atm.

  15. Bertie as far as I know is injured since late December with a knee injury hence his return I suspect. Hopefully he is not his usual flakey self and gets back quick to give an option, I wouldn’t bet the house on it.

    Big Gamble this window if those top 7 spots are being eyed, no problem otherwise.

  16. The smoke has cleared and Boehly walked into the sweet shop and emptied the shelves. A mere one third of a billion quid spent in one month. Enough to keep the UK Health and Social Care system funded for about one day.

    Am I jealous? Not one bit. Potter faces an impossible task welding that set of egotistical characters into a well oiled machine. Wonder how many incomings were Potter’s choice? Reaching 4th place? Nah, don’t think so.

    We’ve seen how UEFA have reacted by limiting contracts from the coming summer to 5 years for FFP calculations to stop Chelsea taking the piss. I will watch with interest how they get refereed from now on to see if there is any change. I think they could find that having such a financial advantage may work against them in the eyes of the referees. But we’ll see.

  17. 656, yep the jury is still out on Costa. I hadn’t seen enough of him to form an opinion before his injury. I guess we’ll know more about him come the summer.

  18. Plug, with you all the way. I know it risks sounding like sour grapes, but the way Chelsea have thrown money around feels really distasteful and ‘anti sport’. I do feel sorry for Potter as I cannot imagine that recruitment was all his choice, but he’s the one left having to try and make it work.

  19. it’s funny how football fans can turn themselves inside out to try and make the ‘fact’s fit their prejudices. A week or so ago, a Chelsea fan mate of mine was telling me how they had some decent players . . . .then as they were sold he told me how those players were getting old, had won their trophies and had lost their passion and commitment and needed to move aside for young blood. He said that long contracts made them complacent and they only played well when “like Rashford”, they were coming to the end of their contracts and felt obliged to put in the effort to get a new contract.
    Roll forward a week and with new players coming in on 7 year contracts he tells me, with no sense of irony at all, that they’ve brought in great players on long contracts which will “give them the security to express themselves and play great football”.

    No point in trying to use logic or reason eh?

  20. Ian. . . . you’re in Vancouver? My brother’s finding the winter weather a bit grey. . . . Is that normal but the summer makes up for it?

  21. .r0bb0, I live in Magna Bay, about 4 1/2 hr drive from Vancouver. Most of BC is covered in cloud in the winter time but you’re right, spring, summer, and fall make up for it. Pretty much the same winters as England.

  22. Match day at last. Expecting a tough game. After last nights result, the top half is here if we win. Big incentive if ever we needed one. Looking forward to the smell of cordite at VP.

  23. It’s hard to know what to expect this afternoon but you’re right, the incentive of moving into the top half of the table is surely a big one. We’ve been on an amazing sequence of results and it would be a shame to see it slip today as a win would really cement our place in the pack of teams fighting for the final European places.
    Chelsea have only scored 5 goals in their last 9 games so it is surprising that they haven’t invested some of their half a billion spend in the last two windows on an out and out striker but does also show how hard it is to find a good one.

  24. Chelsea have spent more in the last 2 windows alone than the total value of our squad (which has actually fallen from 7th to 10th highest after january transfers.)
    Their bench last night was worth more than 50% of our total squad.
    This isn’t a complaint about our squad at all. . . I like how we’re going about our business, but the powers that be really do need to get to grips with the financing of clubs.
    Chelsea are offering long contracts in order to be able to spread the accounting cost of the players. If success doesn’t follow then the numbers just won’t add up and they’ll have mortgaged the future of the club. I’d be nervous if I was a fan.

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