Date: 1st June 2009 at 1:40pm
Written by:

deano.avfc asks: How short are we of being genuine Top 4 challengers?

Our ex-manager (twice) Graham Taylor said that we need at least 5 quality players to challenge the big-4. He then went on to talk about our use of 23 players, the least in the Premiership. When he watched us
play with out first XI we were great but beyond that we looked a poor side at times.

A World Cup squad contains 23 players. Generally managers select 3 goalkeepers and 2 for each other position. To keep this simple I want to present a 23 man squad for Villa at the moment as well as a few extras – mainly youth players who you would not want to over-rely on.

Goalkeepers – Friedel, Guzan and Taylor Seem fine to me – a nice trio.

Plenty of comments on this site on why we should replace Friedel this summer, but I think we are okay for another season or two. I think money should be spent elsewhere.

Right-backs – Luke Young and ??

Luke Young is an excellent player and certainly could be a first choice RB for a top-4 side. Boro’s player of the season last year, and could have been ours if he has a season consistency at RB. Therefore we need a decent substitute RB.

Left-backs – Bouma and Shorey

We really did miss Bouma this year. I did not think Shorey did too badly when he did play LB but a 100% fit Bouma would not look out of place in a top-4 side. But will he be 100% come August? Shorey as a second choice is great – but would he be happy with that?

Centre-backs – Davies, Cuellar, ? and ?

I do not mean to be unfair to Zat Knight but I really do not think we can rely on him every other game. Davies lacks concentration at times but has all the resources needed to be an excellent centre-back. Cuellar has only had a handful of games at centre-back but looks a decent player. However, in an FA Cup final (!!) I would be happier with Davies alongside a top, top quality centre-back. Cuellar and another as alternative choices.

Right-Wing – Milner and ?

Milner certainly good enough as a right-winger for a top 4 side but no competition which is the same for the other flank.

Left-Wing – Ashley Young and ?

Problem just the same on this flank – we need natural width and I think that if both Milner and Young were unfit we would have some weird Heskey / Agbonlahor combination on the wings. We need two wingers, especially as Milner may be used through the middle more if Barry moves on.

Centre-midfield – Barry, Petrov, Sidwell and Reo-Coker

Looks good to me IF Barry stays, if he doesn’t we need a real top drawer player and we will have to smash our transfer record for this!! Gardner included as a squad player, which may be a little unfair but I have to say that the big-4 would not rely on him as one of four central midfielders. Would he be as good as Lampard, Ballack, Mikel or Essien.

Strikers – Agbonlahor, Carew, Heskey and ?

No getting away from it, Emile WILL be used frequently next season. Gabby and Carew are a good strike-force but we obviously need another option. I am not going to say it is clear that Gabby and Carew are our first choice strike-force as I am a fan of playing two strikers who are on form rather than a clear-cut first and second choice.

Squad Players – Knight, Gardner, Delfouneso, Albrighton, Bannan, Salifou, and maybe 2 or 3 more.

So…I think that this clearly shows we can only really afford to lose Harewood.

In my opinion, I would have Lescott and bust the bank to get him -he can add the goals we will miss with Laursen retiring (as well as meaning he cant score against us!!). The striker option is a difficult one and I think we need a striker we can rely on for a 1 in 2.5 goals ratio – I think Darren Bent is a great and realistic option!

Kyle Naughton, Gareth Bale (left-back or left-wing) and David Bentley would ensure we have sufficient depth in the squad as well as excellent competition for a first XI that picks itself at the moment.

Would this be enough for a top-4 place, I certainly think so. But, just to make sure, throw in Defour!


11 Replies to “How Short Are Villa From A Top 4 Place?”

  • Did we really use 23 players? If we did I suspect that most of that 23 (beyond the regular 1st 11) were on as subs for few few minutes here and there.

  • I do like the league proposals to limit the size of the squads so it is the same for all, doubt it will get passed but would be good if it did!

  • Actually I shall refrain from further comment as I disagree with so much I think we would be here for a very long time.

  • Go ahead Villan of the North – briefly what do you disagree with. In a roundabout way I have tried to be logical to draw a conclusion of requiring only one or two OUTS and several INS in key positions. Suggestions of Bent, Lescott, Bale, Defour, Naughton and Bentley are nothing new on this website. A few Villa supporting mates just had a discussion of what was missing from the squad – based on what Taylor had been saying about our lack of depth. IF O’Neill made the signings suggested above we would do very well. The most surprising thing I found when writing the article is that, had Laursen not retired, we were only a striker short of a first XI that can compete with anyone?? I find it quite hard to see how you can “disagree with so much”. But then again its all about opinions!!

  • OK, in brief, but not and exhaustive list of my disagreements:-L Young, Wilf and Milner being ggod enough as 1st choice starters for any top 4 team. L Young would make a good go of it but I’m not sure he’d make it, Wilf, perhaps defensively but not going forward and Milner just isn’t that good yet although may become so. I personally see his future as a real Ian Taylor type down the middle, not the talent of A Young but all teams need a mixture of grafters and talent as real proved with their under performing team of galacticos.

    I also take issue with the idea that we need direct cover for every position on the pitch as if we should always swap like for like. What we need is options not just cover for injuries and suspensions. When things are not working we need to be able to change things around. If we get in Bentley, for exaple, this means that we have three players that can play RW, two that can play LW and all three of them can play in the centre possibly in the “hole”. Options and those options also allow for cover. Not many CDs are very good at RB but a fair few RBs can do a good job at CD so again, RB would be a priority for me rather than having 4 CDs. these are just examples of having options rather than cover. Options also give more flexibility in changing the shape of the team without having to make to many changes in playing personnel.

    I also think you are underselling the likes of Gardener. I believe he has a great future ahead of him but has been held back by MON playing his favourites. Sidwell, too should have a big impact once he gets into his stride.

  • I agree with much of what you say VOTN and I did say that it was a over-simplistic approach. See my option as Gareth Bale for example I said we needed cover at LB and LW. He can certainly fill in Bouma or in fact be a first choice, as well as cover for the left-flank for A Young. However, if we got Bentley we would have Young and Milner who could play either flank with Bentley on the right. Thats why I see no need for a direct “alternative” to A.Young. I was perhaps unfair on Gardner and indeed 5 central midfielders may be needed if going for a 4-5-1 type formation and indeed he becomes more crucial again, but at the moment Petrov, Barry, Sidwell and NRC would be chosen ahead of him in central midfield – same can be said of the Fonz in terms of being unfair. You have pointed out Luke Young, Bouma and Milner not being up to scratch but I disagree, I would imagine that in the past season Luke Young would have been a better right-back for Liverpool that they already have, and probably would have got a few games for Man Utd with Neville out! Bouma again would have got in ahead of Liverpools left-backs. Milner certainly would have provided natural width on the right or left that Liverpool missed (Riera and Kuyt not up to scratch, Benayoun under utilised) and Chelsea ****il Malouda found form), even Man Utd as I see him as better than Ji-Sung Park. There are not many on the market better than L Young, Milner and Bouma who would come to Villa.

  • 1 small thing illustrates the contrast for me, Chelseas 2 full backs cost 20 million EACH, ours are worth about £2 mill each and wouldnt even make it into a bottom 4 side !

    Luke young , Bouma and shorey have no pace and about 1 international cap betwwen , them are slightly below average at best even if they do try hard

  • A bit of an exaggeration there straftat really great full-backs are hard to come by. Indeed, I would put Luke Young and Bouma into the top 6-8

  • Luke young good enough for a top 4 team. Ya right. I have watched him play a lot of times in the past and he has been very good this season. But the guy is technically poor. He reeds the game really well, He is a good athlete and gives 100% but his passing range is next to Nothing. Not a top 4 full back.

  • and i have to say that the fact that you were in the Top 4 for so long this season with this Squad is quite a Achievement. it speaks volumes of MON. While your starting 11 is very good, the Bench is very very poor. So if you can add 5 or 6 quality players to your squad then i think you can pipe the Scum for the 4th spot.

Comments are closed.