Date: 15th May 2012 at 3:20pm
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The season has finally come to an end and I can honesty say I plan on blocking this past year’s campaign out of my memory. McLeish is officially gone and that gives me a great deal of relief and optimism. There is a busy summer ahead for Aston Villa and I think it’s a good time to start speculating about transfers and what will happen with our current squad. So without further adieu, here is my rundown of our current squad, player by player, as well as my opinion on whether they should stay or go. Enjoy.

The team:

Darren Bent: Obviously a great player and probably would have hit 20 goals had he not been injured. Most likely would have made us finish much higher up the table. However as good as Benty is, if whoever is managing the club has anywhere less than £25-30m to spend in the summer, it may be a good idea to sell him off. The extra transfer cash and looser wage bill could open up new areas of investment and with strikers like Bas Dost and others likely to be frequently linked, we should be able to find a good replacement to add to the attack up front.

Verdict – Prob. keep/ maybe sell

Gabby Agbonlahor: Gabby can be absolutely deadly up front and can terrify defenses with his excellent pace and agility. The problem with Gabby now is he is severely lacking in confidence. A new manager who knows how to motivate players will work wonders for Gabby and I think we can look forward to an excellent season from our favorite villan.

Verdict: Keep

Andreas Wiemann: It is certainly a testament to Darren Bent’s leadership abilities be able to realize Wiemann’s talents and work with him in and after training. He looks a star on the rise and I’m very excited to see what this machine is capable of this coming campaign.

Verdict: Keeper for sure

Nathan Delfouneso: Nathan is tricky since others in the academy are beginning to develop faster than him. At 23 he needs to be pushing for more first team chances and going on loan at that age does not usually spell success for a striker on a mid-tier premier league team. Unless Nathan shows brilliance in the preseason, it may be time for him to move on to a team that could really use him.

Verdict: Sell

Emile Heskey: Meh. Not much to say here. Can get in good positions when he tries, just puts it wide 90% of the time.

Verdict: Already gone

Charles N’Zogbia: Zoggy was a signing that made virtually no sense for McLeish. He is almost completely attack minded and works well with an attacking managerial style. And despite him being not suited at all to McDrawball, he hasn’t done all that horribly. Charles needs a manager who can lead who can guide him and keep him in line and he will produce.

Verdict: Keep

Marc Albrighton: Marc has had an up and down time at Villa and it’s showed in the amount of games he’s played. He had a break-out season last year but failed to build on it. The pressure of replacing Downing and Young may have played a part in his drop of form which is hard for any young player. Marc should be kept at least another year to prove himself but if he does not show a decent amount of improvement this season I would not be surprised if he is off loaded.

Verdict: Keep for now

Stephen Ireland: One of the very few players who had actually improved this season, Stevie could be a huge asset to the club in years to come bringing with him skill and experience. I think his attitude has dramatically improved since Christmas and he will only see his form improve in Claret and Blue. Could be a future captain if he continues to show more maturity.

Verdict: Keep

Chris Herd: Here’s a player I’m a bit conflicted about as to whether he will be a asset or a liability. Though he’s shown bits of quality throughout the season, he’s been nowhere near consistent and his club antics in Birmingham show a sense of immaturity on his part. At 23 he is among the oldest of the academy graduates and needs to start showing real form to give the club a reason to keep him. It could be too little, too late for Chris and it will be interesting to see where he fits in this season.

Verdict: Sell – alot of Championship teams would suit him well

Barry Bannan: Probably the academy graduate with the most potential besides perhaps Gardner, Barry showed good signs at the beginning of the season attracting attention from Man U and Liverpool alike before a drop of form as the season went on. (Funny how that kept happening) He could be a huge part of the first team IMO and I wouldn’t be surprised if this was his breakout season.

Verdict: Keep

Jean Makoun: This is a difficult one to call since I really haven’t seen Jean play at all since his arrival last January. McLeish clearly had no interest in him and he was promptly loaned for the entire season. It’s hard to make a judgement until we see him in action this season, but a good offer may be hard to turn down.

Verdict: Sell if we get at least 5M

Gary Gardner: Young player of the season for me and really one our best players in 2012. Gary has loads of potential and could be a star for Villa in the coming years and on England as well. I see big things for this centre-mid and hopefully we won’t be sold as soon as Lerner sees cash.

Verdict: Keep

Fabian Delph: Fab has struggled for first team chances and despite his good work ethic tends to produce sloppy play. He is also prone to injury and may have a difficult time re-discovering form. He has a long way to go if he is to fulfill his 8m transfer fee and that alone is reason to keep him this summer.

Verdict: Keep

Stiliyan Petrov: My player of the season and probably player of the past 5 years. Should have his own statue in front of VP and get his number retired IMO. Hardest worker at the club. Get well soon Stan.

And now for the defense…

Richard Dunne: After arriving in 2008 from Manchester City for a good sum of around 10m, Richard had done well for Villa in his 4 seasons with the club. Accept for this year. Dunne has been severely lacking this year in quality and has shown no signs of improvement. He’s given away 3 penalties this year if you include the FA cup loss to Arsenal, and has made plenty more defensive mistakes throughout the campaign. Despite all this, he still had a decent reputation in the league. Which means we might be able to pull in around 5m for him.

Verdict: Sell

James Collins: Not much to say here. Work-ethic not good enough and neither is his defending. Add to that his age and no goals from corners, and you have a sale waiting to happen.

Verdict: Sell

Alan Hutton: Oh Alan. In addition to being absolutely hopeless at right-back, Hutton has put some truly awful crosses in this season and been responsible for alot of bad play. However despite all this, I think he will still be at the club next season. My reason being is he was only purchased last season and very few clubs would be interested in signing him. He does add experience and depth to the squad and has a chance of improving.

Verdict: Sell but won’t happen

Eric Lichaj: Eric has been superb the second half of the season. He’s been the best, and most consistent performing defender all season and has a bright future ahead of him. He has done well against some of the best defenders in the league due to his decent pace and smart play. He’s also American, which is cool. 🙂

Verdict: Keep

Stephen Warnock: Warnock is a player who receives alot more criticism than he deserves. Statistically, he has been our best defender all season. Winning more headers than anyone on the team, which is quite an achievement considering the height of Dunne and Collins. He’s also had the most appearances of anyone on the team which is a testament to his toughness is terms of injury. Also, I just like Stephen Warnock. He works very hard almost every game and despite making a few costly mistakes in the early part of the season, he has been very solid at left back. At 28 he has a good amount of years left and I hope to see him in years to come.

Verdict: Keep

Ciaran Clark: Here’s a lad who hasn’t been given nearly as many first-team starts as he’s deserved. Ciaran is still very young and I see him attracting alot of attention during the summer. Geovanni Trapatonni made a mistake not including him in Ireland’s squad this summer and I think he’ll regret that decision later on.

Verdict: Keep

King Carlos: Shame to see him leaving as he was also a very consistent defender when called upon. Deserved more playing time earlier in the season. Can see why we didn’t resign him however as I’m sure his wages were quite high.

Nathan Baker: Baker is an interesting topic. He had some good performances under Houllier last season but has been short of form in his recent appearances under McLeish. It could be that players just do bad in general under McLeish, but if Baker’s form doesn’t improve this preseason he needs to be sent on loan or sold. There’s no use wasting time and money on an academy player that will never develop to the proper level.

Verdict: Send on loan, see what happens

Shay Given: Nothing needs to be said really, pure quality

Verdict: Keeper….ha

Brad Guzan: Showed some real quality in the games where he had to step up in Given’s place. Just a real shame were so unlikely to keep him. Love having a good Villa showing in the U.S. team.

Verdict: Wish we could keep him…:(

Hope you found this a thoroughly entertaining addition to an already fantastic couple of news days. Comment below with your own opinions and let me know what you think of mine.