3) Micah Richards
Aston Villa’s Captain has experienced a first season to forget at Claret and Blue. When Tim Sherwood signed the former Manchester City player, the transfer was warmly received as fans were excited by having a player with such potential at the club. Richards had suffered injuries and a loss of form in recent seasons but now having a new permanent home, it was hoped that Richards would have the platform to kick on with his career.
Life at Villa got off to the perfect start for Richards with an opening day victory away to Bournemouth. Richards had publicly expressed his desire to play in central defence and stated that Sherwood’s belief in him playing the role was a huge factor behind joining the club. Richards had carved out an early career at Manchester City mainly playing at right back and his exploits in the position saw him earn international recognition with England.
As the current season began to unfold, it was clear that Richards’s future does not lie at Centre Back. A series of defensive mishaps would follow with Richards continuously caught out of position and criticised for his displays. It was clear that Richards was being exposed in the position and fans grew frustrated with a reluctance to move the defender back into the right back position in which he had previously performed so well. An injury mid way through the season saw Richards miss a series of games in which Villa showed signs of a revival with some hard fought draws under Remi Garde. Crushing defeats away to Sunderland and Norwich severely dented Villa’s hopes of a revival and Richards’s performance in both defeats was heavily criticised.
When tensions started to boil over in the cup match against Wycombe, Richards attempted to play peace maker with supporters, insisting after the match that “we are trying”. Richards had in fact played the game at right back and scored Villa’s only goal of the game.
As the season progressed and Villa’s hopes of safety continued to fade, Richards’s involvement also began to disappear. Having joined the club as the newly appointed Captain, the onetime England International was now spending time sat on the bench with youth team players Jordan Lyden and Kevin Toner being preferred for selection.
Richards again falls into the category of high earners and Villa may be eager to cut their losses on a player who has simply failed to inspire his team. Throughout the season, Richard’s has failed to portray any real leadership skills and his own form has left a lot to be desired. Plenty of rumours have surfaced throughout the season that Richards was one of many senior players who clashed with the management during Remi Garde’s reign. Villa need to get this Championship campaign right and too many senior players challenging the authority of those in charge will not make for a healthy dressing room.
Richards may feel he owes the club a debt following his poor contribution to the season. It’s difficult to envisage Richards fancying life in the Championship. Villa showed little battle during this year’s campaign and cannot rely on players unwilling to fight for the cause. Richards was given a perfect platform at Villa Park but it seems that chance may have quickly vanished.
Click Page 4 below to see the next player Villa should get rid of next season.