With the lack of balance in the Aston Villa squad, especially in defence, a number of fans are looking eagerly at what new head coach Dean Smith will be asking for from new Sporting Director Jesus Garcia Pitarch.
Similar to how Smith operated at Brentford, he’s not in sole charge of transfers in or out of the club, but he has a voice and whilst Pitarch will be looking at development overview, all levels and options, key to that relationship working will be him knowing when to bow to Smith putting his foot down on which player he wants specifically for a position.
Equally, Smith has to lean on Pitarch’s experience here with scouting and analysis and know when to accept the statistics suggest ‘any of those three names’ would be an improvement on what we have.
It’s not a system we’ve really tried sensibly or properly at Villa before in my view, and if I can make fans shudder by mentioning Tom Fox and Henrik Almstadt – that was a half-arsenaled attempt at best, as ably epitomised by Tim Sherwood’s inability to seemingly remember which players he had personally scouted for a decade and asked the club to sign.
With Financial Fair Play concerns still being an issue for many, despite Christian Purslow’s confident words on the topic, few would be expecting big spending but Smith hasn’t worked that way anyway. It’s about polishing up potential gems for him so I don’t see that as being a complication for Smith advising on how to improve the group.
What it does mean is fans may have to accept an element of treading water as the big job will come next summer when we have a plan fully in place and can possibly attract better bites for those we want to move on.
Given some of the transfer talk we have seen so far – January Transfer Thread – centre-halves figure highly on the rumour mill.
Whether it’s talk of Tommy Elphick or Mitch Clark being recalled. Free agent deals for the likes of James Collins as a tideover, or possible loans (or maybe loan to buy deals) for the likes of Chelsea’s Ethan Ampadu, Brentford’s Yoann Barbet and even the far more unlikely Gary Cahill talk, it will undoubtedly be the main focus for the window.
It will need patience though, Smith can’t fix us in a single window and he won’t be able to always please us either.