Football Season Guide

Aston Villa


Brett Holman (midfielder) (AZ Alkmaar), Ron Vlaar (defender )(Feyenoord); Karim El-Ahmadi (midfielder)(Feyenoord), Matthew Lowton (defender)(Sheff Utd).Jean Makoun (midfielder)(return of loan from Olympiakos)


Carlos Cuellar(defender)(Sunderland), Emile Heskey(forward) (released). James Collins (defender)(West Ham)

To say that last season was a dreadful one for Villa would be an understatement since pretty much everything that could go wrong did after the ill-advised appointment of Alex McLeish. The Midlanders nearly got drawn into a relegation battle at the back end of the campaign that saw main striker Darren Bent sidelined midway through with serious injury and captain Stilyan Petrov diagnosed with acute leukemia. Besides, a number of first team players also got injured or vastly underperformed under McLeish, which meant Villa had their worse camnpaign for many a year, playing soporific football and finishing in 16th place. McLeish was logically sacked at the end, making way for boss Paul Lambert. The former Norwich boss is a much more adventurous type than McLeish, which should cheer up the fans, who have been longing for a more attractive brand of play and a return of their side to the top tier of the league since the departure of Martin O'Neill in 2010. Lambert can take heart in a well balanced squad with a good mix of young talent, such as the likes Barry Bannan, Mark Albrighton, Ciaran Clark and players with unquestionable Premiership pedigree such as Darren Bent, Charles N'Zogbia, Shay Given, Richard Dunne and Gabby Agbonlahor. The Villans will start the season without Dunne and Agbonlahor who will need to recover from injury, along with Albrigthton, and of course Petrov who is still undergoing treatment. Paul Lambert will therefore undoubtedly look to add to the signings of Brett Holmann, Karim El Ahmadi and Matthew Lowton to put his stamp on Villa's game early on. The Villa boss has also signed Ron Vlaar to fill the void left by the departures of James Collins to West Ham and fans favoutite Carlos Cuellar to Sunderland. Left back Matthew Lowton is already on the roster but the defence should require more staff as both full backs Hutton and Warnock came up short last season and Dunne is out injured till October. Vlaar should easily impose himself in central defence while youngsters Chris Herd, Ciaran Clark and Barry Bannan could well claim regular roles in midfield. The once highly rated Fabian Delph returns hoping to make his mark this season and finally find his best position. In the attack, Darren Bent, having recovered from serious injury, should be the focal point of the attack while winger Brett Holman and Charles N'Zogbia should bring width to the play. Paul Lambert will obvioulsy expect his signings to have an impact but also players like Agbonlahor, Makoun or N'Zogbia to perform better than they did last season.


After two hugely disappointing seasons, Villa will look to start on a clean slate and return to the top half of the table, this time under a highly rated young manager.