Finally the transfer window has closed after a long summer of anticipation. Ending the season in such dramatic circumstances left major questions to be asked of our squad and with wealthy owners there was no real reason not to answer said questions. Despite a slow start it seems we’ve done a fair amount of business this window so I have taken it upon myself to weigh up our transfers and evaluate the quality of the work.
First and foremost we had to make some changes to our defence, despite improving near the end of last season we still had one of the worst record of goals conceded overall and we were well overdue some reinforcements. Right back Matty Cash was the first arrival, raising questions about Guilbert’s future with the club. I personally couldn’t see Matty starting over Frédéric, however Cash has proved to be pivotal in our 100% record in the premier league so far this season. He’s settled fantastically and looks a real threat moving forward in addition to his high quality defending.
Following this, Argentinian goalkeeper Emi Martínez joined the club following a brilliant spell at Arsenal. Martínez pulled off a debut to remember as he saved a penalty and kept a clean sheet against Sheffield United, immediately securing a place in most Villa fans hearts. Furthermore, resident club favourite Tyrone Mings signed a long term contract extension helping our defence look more and more sustainable in the long run.
Perhaps the most exciting of all areas of movement, was in our midfield, which is now looking stronger than ever. First and foremost the contract renewal of Jack Grealish was a real sign of club ambition. Fending off interest from major clubs both overseas and in the Premier League is quite possibly the best bit of business all summer. Super Jack continues to captain his boyhood club and we get even more seasons out of our very own midfield maestro.
As if things couldn’t get any better, a totally unexpected addition joined our midst on a season long loan and Ross Barkley has taken to the Villa fan base in a storm of excitement. Having an established Premier League midfielder to take the pressure off Jack Grealish was something we had all hoped for but never expected. His performance against Liverpool spoke for itself, the former Evertonian tore Liverpool’s defence to shreds letting Jack Grealish run the show alongside him. These two will be a force to be reckoned with.
Last season taught us some very tough lessons. One of which being: we need a good striker to survive in the Premier League. So with that in mind Dean Smith called for one man, the Championship’s top scorer: Ollie Watkins. The 24 year old Englishman became the club’s record signing and for good reason, scoring on his debut and bagging his first Premier League hat-trick against the champions in his third league game at the club. It’s clear to see that this man has the talent to cut it in the league.
In addition to this we tied down Keinan Davis for the foreseeable future. Regardless of your opinion on him (our very own marmite player) our awareness to the squad depth we need is encouraging and I’d rather we had too many strikers than too few. Our last major move in the forward department was Bertrand Traoré. The former Chelsea man was considered somewhat of a risk in the grand scheme of things since so many Lyon fans despised him for his supposed lack of work rate. But we needed pace, and if there’s one man that has pace it’s Bertrand. Let’s not overlook his worldie against Bristol City too, any player with the confidence and ability to try that is someone I want near my football club.
It wasn’t just the players that had to be rearranged this season, the people behind the scenes had to move around too. We swiftly relieved Suso (the man behind such genius transfers as Lovre Kalinić) of his duties after we survived the drop, and rightly so. In order to progress it was due time for us to part ways. Johan Lange was Suso’s replacement, Johan came from Copenhagen after a great performance making the club’s business sustainable there and by the look of the smile on his face every time we sign a player, he’s loving his time here.
The main man however is Craig Shakespeare, his arrival has sparked a feeling of confidence in the club. Our performances speak for themselves, the man who helped drive Leicester City’s shock Premier League title campaign looks to be a fantastic addition to Dean Smith’s backroom staff (not to mention he was born in Great Barr too).
Needless to say we’ve had a very hectic transfer window but it was certainly worth the slow start. All in all I don’t think many would argue against this absolutely being our best transfer window of the last decade at least. Bolstered in every department, dangerous from all angles, everyone has gelled and everyone has settled. Given how well we’ve been playing and how successful we’ve been in the window, who in the world would guess that we stayed in the league on the final day of last season by one measly point. Good things are coming.