Our big money capture of Club Brugge striker Wesley certainly came out of left field for Aston Villa during the summer transfer window, but that was pretty much how we did most of our business this year.
The 22-year-old arrived for a reported £22million back in mid-June and making his competitive debut last weekend in our opener against Tottenham Hotspur – well, the consensus was ‘must do better’.
He was poor, particularly in the first half, but I think most would agree there were small signs of improvement in his play in the second period. There was always going to be a period of adjustment though as he settles in at the club and a different playing level, and few fans should need reminding that after Christian Benteke’s first runout, his new nickname quickly became Heskey Mk2 and we know how that worked out when he found his feet.
Going down too easily was a comment plenty of us made in the Match Thread from the Spurs game, and that clearly hadn’t gone unnoticed by head coach Dean Smith.
Quoted by the Birmingham Mail ahead of the Bournemouth clash, Smith admitted he’d already had a word.
“He knows how we want to play. He was starved of a lot of the ball on Saturday. I didn’t think he was very well protected by the officials, I thought. There were a number of fouls that didn’t get given. Also I felt he went down a little bit easy as well and we’ve certainly spoken about that. But, generally, his hold-up play is very good and he makes good runs to get into the penalty box. Yes, he went down a little but easy but El Ghazi went down a little bit easy as well. I could also talk about Tottenham players who went down easy but that’s part and parcel of the game now. But, was it a bad performance from Wesley? No. I just don’t think we had enough retention of the ball to help him.”
Hopefully, we’ll see further improvement against Bournemouth and he’ll soon get off the mark. He now knows what to expect and with additional time on the training pitch, we should see more things come together.