Date: 23rd July 2013 at 8:37am
Written by:

The Bomb Squad

Regardless of your view of the manager, no one can deny that he is a strict disciplinarian who expects the highest level of professionalism from Villa’s players, both on and off the pitch, from preparation to performance. Players who fail to perform and justify their wages will soon find themselves in Villa’s aptly named, ‘Bomb Squad.’ That’s what the likes of Hutton and Bent have been calling their exit-gang. It fits. They are being bombed out of the club though if Villa want to avoid paying around £4m in golden hand shakes they may need to get creative if they are to to free up funds for the Lambert war chest.

The problem is, does anyone really want them and if they do, how much will they be willing to pay? I do ask because no-one seems to be breaking the door down. Lets try and understand why.

Barry Bannan

With Villa adding to their midfield options in the summer and having a settled first team trio in Westwood, Delph and Sylla, time is up for the diminutive Scott. The 23 year old is reported to have accepted that he is no longer required. However, despite some tentative enquiries nothing concrete has developed.

For a player who has been with Villa since he was a 14 year old school boy it must be tough, yet the reality is that Bannan is simply not good enough. Yes, he’s had a few decent outings for the club (at home in the rain against Arsenal 241112 stood out) but the consistency has just not been there. At times he is readily out muscled and struggles to win tackles and at 5′ 6, and 9st its easy to see why. His battle against Sissoko of Newcastle (home 29113) exemplified this for me. Bannan simply could not compete. And then their was the farce of putting him on the far-post for opposition corners, which seemed slightly preferably than having him take the corners himself. No, the fact remains, despite having a good short passing game and a great engine we have struggled to accommodate Bannan and he, in turn, has struggled to perform.

If the rumour mill is to believed he wants to stay in the Premier League. My question is, who will want him and why? Maybe our best bet is to offer him to a newly promoted side who need a bit of experience and some Premier League numbers. I think the most we could expect is £3m though we might have to go a little lower to get him off the books.

My Verdict: Get his agent to ring Hull or Palace. Surely they could do with an extra pair of quick feet. Affordable back up with experience. If not he may have to go back up North. I’m not sure the Championship is the place for him.

Alan Hutton

Last season someone coined the phrase, ‘a load of old Hutton.’ Harsh but fair. It underlines what a very difficult job its going to be to try and sell him. The player admits he should never have joined Villa. We might very well feel the same. Offering him a 40k a week contract was surely one of Villa’s worst transfer deals since Habib Beye first put pen to paper.

Despite loan moves to both Forest and Mallorca nobody wants to sign the player who was once touted as been a top signing for Spurs. I feel for him on a human level though he’s had the game time and chances to justify his worth, yet his performances were often woeful; at times his tactical reading of the game was so bad you could have easily believe that he played with a bag over his head.

So here we are, two years into his deal and Hutton is so desperate to be allowed to end his Villa ‘experience’ he is believed to have asked to leave on a free transfer. Credit to him. His always been professional in his attitude and he wants to be allowed to rebuild his career and his game elsewhere. Problem: Villa seem unwilling and are determined to get something for a player they have paid handsomely.

I am not sure how realistic this is because no one is going to want to pay even reasonable money for him. If we want him off the books we should just agree to contract dissolution by mutual consent. The player, it seems, is happy to forgo his salary and leave, Villa want to get him off the books and the fans don’t want to see him in a Villa shirt again. So what is stopping us? My verdict: Cancel that contract and let him go if that is what he wants.

Darren Bent

First up, cards on the table. I am not a Darren Bent fan. A+ for his movement in the box, D- for just about every think else. At worst, a lazy, work shy goal hanger; at best a ‘special teams’ fox in the box, focused solely on the art of the six yard finish. Opinions have always been divided and will continue to be. The point is that we don’t play a system that accommodates him and the manager doesn’t think he brings enough to our game to adapt.

Bent has reportedly said that it’s not about the money. He just wants to play first team football as time is now against him. Newcastle have flirted and now Fulham look dead keen. I don’t think, given his career record, that £8m is unreasonable though with Villa desperate to get him off the books, circling clubs will be prepared to see how cheap we will go.

If Villa play it smart they will wait to the end of the window and try and create a player auction come deadline day. With strikers in short supply someone will be prepared to pay what we want. If Villa dangle him and push for the sale early with a view to get him of the books as soon as, we could be looking at £5m for a player who cost us, all in, £24m. That is a snip for a striker who has reached the 100 premier league goals mark. However, the Bent saga has dragged on for some time now and Villa may just want to draw a line under the sand and move on.

My verdict: I’d like to get as much as we can for him but if current rumours are true he may be a Fulham player soon at reduced cost. Surely no less than £8m though?

Shay Given

Despite that mooted move to free spending Doncaster, here we are with another player who can’t seem to find the right deal. Considering his experience, his ability and his desire to play you would think there would be a host of clubs cueing up, so what is the hold up?

With three years left on his deal (worth a cool £3m a year) you can understand the problem. He desperately wants first team football but he doesn’t desperately want to do it for a cut (would you?). Yet, despite his good relationship and bond with the Villa faithful, will we want to find that he hasn’t moved, come September?

My Verdict: It might be the case that we have to give in to a loan deal and pay a percentage of his wages to ship him out if he refuses to budge.

Stephen Ireland

He was voted the 201112 player of the season. What went wrong? Well, firstly that was not a massive achievement. That pot of chutney at the back of the cupboard ended up a close second that year. Still a win is a win though it wont get him any further than a taxi to anywhere that will have him.

The genius that is Mark Hughes seems to be an admirer as is Tony Mobray. Everton also seem to be interested though nothing concrete yet. The player himself (in a recent fan video) seemed at a loss as to where his future lay when asked the question, which perhaps doesn’t bode well.

I think I’ll always find myself miffed as to why he couldn’t get it together and make his mark. He seemed to have the talent and the ability. We’ve seen flashes of it but without that much sought after gold standard- consistency. Other clubs will undoubtedly chew over the same thing. Hopefully, they will see him as an affordable gamble.

Again, clubs will want to see how low we will go in our price demands. Maybe showing your cards and having it public knowledge that players have been bombed into an exile group, doesn’t help at the negotiating table. No doubt interested parties will make us sweat on this one to get the fee down now they know just how much we want out of his contract.

My Verdict: I wouldn’t risk the transfer deadline clock been run-down on this one. Neither would I contemplate a golden handshake. If he hasn’t found a deal by the middle of August send him out on loan for the season.