Aston Villa finish last season was realistic considering the limited resources at Martin O’Neill’s disposal.
Trouble is, this season could be more of the same considering that Aston Villa still need to strengthen their squad in numbers (although their first team is decent enough). Over the length of the Premiership season, the current squad will not do better than mid-table and if injuries hit them hard Villa could be in a big spot of bother.
You’d expect a team lead by O’Neill to be tactically astute and punch above it’s weight, but you still need numbers at your side and Villa don’t have them, yet.
Still, this is a team that’s on it’s way up and it will interesting to see over the next couple of years how O’Neill succeeds in his quest to get Aston Villa into Europe.
Manager Status: Martin O’Neill is an accomplished, well-respected manager and he will be given full backing to get Aston Villa to qualify for Europe. He’s not untouchable but even if Aston Villa were to be relegated (which they won’t be) O’Neill would still be in the job for at least another year.
Transfer Analysis: Several players have left Aston Villa but only Reo-Coker is a notable signing, although if Ashley Young is anything to go by Marlon Harewood could be another one of O’Neill’s successful buys. Villa definitely need to strengthen the squad otherwise injuries to key players would derail their campaign and push them way down the table.
Players to watch: Ashley Young, Nigel Reo-Coker and John Carew. These three, along with Barry and Agbonlahor will be at the heart of Aston Villa’s run and if Villa want to be playing in Europe these guys need to be at the top of their game.
August Fixtures: Villa have a hellish start to the season, playing Liverpool at home before visiting St James’ Park to play Newcastle and then a relatively easily (but crucial) home game against Fulham. The next two games (in Sept) are a home game against Chelsea and an away game against City.
It’s a tough start, so I would expect Villa to be near the bottom of the table come September.
Expectations: Fans will expect a top-10 finish at least and the more optimistic ones would hope for a European spot, but Villa are several signings and perhaps a season short of such thoughts.
Predictions: A mid-table (9-15th) finish – don’t see an O’Neill side getting sucked into relegation and I don’t see this squad playing in Europe (ask me again on September 1st, especially if Villa buy more players till then).
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