With the club’s takeover and new management team finally confirmed, now is the time for new manager Roberto Di Matteo to begin putting plans into place for the upcoming Championship campaign.
The Championship is arguably one of the most competitive leagues in European football and Villa will certainly have a big challenge ahead of them if they are to make an instant return to the Premier League. Here we have identified five things which Di Matteo needs to do for next season.
1) “Get rid of the players who are really bad for Aston Villa”
Those were the words and thoughts of new owner Dr Tony Xia who has placed Di Matteo with the task of making big changes to his playing squad. By the Italian’s own admission, the squad is too big and reducing the numbers is something Di Matteo is mindful of. As previous articles have discussed, Villa need wholesale changes as there was a clear lack of quality in last season’s squad.
A number of players may have very well kicked their last ball for Aston Villa but this is where Di Matteo needs to find the right balance. If we take ourselves back to the start of the 15/16 pre-season campaign and Aston Villa had lost the spine of its FA Cup final team with Shay Given, Ron Vlaar, Tom Cleverley, Fabian Delph and Cristian Benteke all moving onto pastures new. This was a big blow to then manager Tim Sherwood and saw Villa bring in a total of 13 players during the summer transfer window.
The change was too dramatic and a number of players struggled to adjust to the demands of the Premier League. Ten of the thirteen additions to the side had never played in the Premier League before and it became quickly apparent that the squad was not up to the demands of the league. The changes to the squad were too drastic.
What were required were five or six top quality players who were able to compensate for the big losses to the club. In contrast, too many players were signed based on their potential and it proved to ultimately be a bad gamble. That’s not to say that some of the summer additions do not have a future at the club but without question, many will be questioning their futures at the club.
Di Matteo has already identified that he needs a reduced squad which is committed and up for the challenge. Commitment was a huge question mark against a lot of the players last season. In order to strike the right balance, there is plenty of dead wood in the squad which needs moving on.
The most obvious players who fall into this category are Gabby Agbonlahor, Leandro Bacuna, Brad Guzan and Joleon Lescott.
These four have been the catalyst for all that is wrong with the squad. This season presents a new challenge and a new start for all concerned with the club. In order to push on these players need moving on. Di Matteo has said he will speak to each member of his squad individually and assess their credentials during the pre season training trip to Austria. The tour has been extended by the manager to give him the necessary time to assess his options.
Click ‘2’ to see the next thing Di Matteo needs to do at Villa next season.