Date: 4th February 2020 at 7:30am
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Vital Villa former member MGSteve gave his thoughts on the January transfer window business conducted by Aston Villa the other day, and reflected on our season so far and for the most part, I find myself pretty much almost in complete agreement about how we’ve tried to balance the two potential outcomes this year (survival and relegation) but with a more significant eye on Financial Fair Play and the years ahead, should the worst happen.

Over to MGSteve…

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I think ultimately what this season has shown is that we’re still living with issues caused by previous owner, namely the fact we ended up having to buy virtually a new team when coming up to the Premier League. We were always risking a season like this, if the team didn’t sync or the purchases either turned out to be bad ones or if they took a while to adjust to the new league. The idea to buy young players and build a team with a view to the future was an admirable idea, it just hasn’t worked for us.

What really did us in was not being able to hold on to Abraham, we’ve basically lacked a recognised forward all season and for one reason or another Wesley hasn’t worked out us (yet).

Yes, the Jan transfer window wasn’t great, however, it wasn’t great really for anyone as far as strikers go, there simply wasn’t anyone decent around. Sure, splashing millions is one way to go, but we’re then left with FFP issues if we go down and a potentially massive wage bill in the Championship.

I have to be honest, I don’t watch enough games to know exactly where the issue lies, whether it’s with the manager or the players, its almost certainly a combination of both. Smith may have trouble picking his best players, simply because so many of them can’t string a consistent string of performances together, playing decent one game and then committing simple errors the next.

This could be down to them playing a system they’re simply not suited to – as I said, I don’t see enough games to know for sure.

If we do go down, I just hope we manage to keep most of the squad together, sure we’ll probably lose McGinn and Grealish, but we should get very decent money for them, which will help in the replacements (and probably with an eye on FFP too).

When you look at Wolves, when they did come up, they managed to keep nearly all of their loans, converting them to purchases, which meant they kept the squad together, we didn’t have that luxury, plus we had a lot of players to clear out & replace.

Yes, Smith will take a lot of the blame, but to be honest, if we do go down, it may be better he stays. Firstly, I don’t know really if a new manager would really help anything a) who would want the job and b) there is something to be said for consistency. I suspect it was this and the longer term plan for building a young side that explains Smith’s 4-year deal in November, even though I have to say, even I was a bit surprised when they did that.

As always, the answers are never clear cut. A new Manager bounce never lasts long – look at Man Utd or West Ham.

The run-in is key…(not all fixtures listed, mainly top 4/5 games or games with relegation teams shown)

Norwich:
* Hard Games: LIV, WOL, MCI, LEI, CHE
* Nearby Teams: ARS, BHA, WAT, WHU

Watford
* Hard Games: LIV, MUN, MCI, LEI, CHE
* Nearby Teams: NOR, ARS, BHA, PAL

West Ham
* Hard Games: LIV, MCI, LEI, CHE, TOT
* Nearby Teams: NOR, ARS, BHA, WAT, AVL

Villa
* Hard Games: LIV, LEI, CHE, WOL, MUN
* Nearby Teams: WHU (A), CRY (H), ARS (H)

Bournemouth
* Hard Games: CHE, LIV, WOL, MUN, TOT, LEI, MCI
* Nearby Teams: BUR, CRY

Brighton
* Hard Games: LEI, MUN, LIV, MCI
* Nearby Teams: ARS, NOR, BUR

Burnley
* Hard Games: TOT, MCI, LIV, WOL
* Nearby Teams: ARS, BOU, WAT, WHU, NOR, BHA, CRY

Palace
* Hard Games: LIV, LEI, CHE, MUN, TOT, WOL
* Nearby Teams: BHA, WAT, BOU, BUR, AVL

Arsenal
* Hard Games: LEI, TOT, LIV, MCI, WOL
* Nearby Teams: BUR, WHU, NOR, AVL, WAT

To be honest, looking at that, we’ve had most of our “6 pointers”, albeit, we’ve got 2 left and both away, so on current form, we’ll probably lose them both. Looking at the harder games, we’ve only got Liverpool left, quite a few of the others have both City and Liverpool to play.

Either-way, the season is far from over. We just have to at least win our home games. Norwich I can’t see surviving and probably West Ham or Watford are favourites for 19th. The only positive is that really we’re only 6 points off 10th, and that the bottom half of the table is very close, we could survive with only a few wins from our remaining games. Equally, if we can somehow put together a good run, it wouldn’t take much to end up mid-table.

Ultimately, the last game of the season against West Ham could end up being a do-or-die game. Our last 3 are EVE(A), ARS(H) and WHU(A). We need to make our home games against Man Utd, Palace and Arsenal count. Loose those and I can’t see us picking up too many points on the road.

Its definitely going to be a close run-in, that’s for sure!

UTV!

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