Villa: An update on the Chinese revolution
Posted by Featured Articles | Published on July 16, 2016
Its almost two months since Dr Tony Xia dug deep into his wallet and purchased the famous Aston Villa FC off of the much despised Randy Lerner; a man who led the club from European nights to Championship football. This sale was just about the only silver lining in a truly horrendous campaign for Villains everywhere, 17 points all season ensured Villa’s first ever relegation from the Premier League and their abysmal displays all season resulted in the club going through 3 managers. The nightmares of this torturous campaign will live long in the memory, but does the Chinese revolution show signs of a new and more prosperous dawn for a once great club?
Roberto Di Matteo:
Xia’s first and most important signing, the new gaffer has won the Champions League and managed in challenging circumstances before, thriving in the cauldron that was a disgruntled Stamford Bridge in 2012. He led the blues to an FA cup and the biggest achievement in the clubs history, a Champions League. Di Matteo also has the all important Championship experience, winning promotion with the Baggies in 2010. The credentials offered by this man surpass all of the other previously mentioned candidates, many wanted Moyes and Pearson’s name was being thrown about before the appointment of Roberto. As a Villa fan, I was greatly relieved when we didn’t choose the latter and in all honesty, Di Matteo is simply more appropriate than Moyes. The squad lacks confidence on a farcical scale, much like AVB’S Chelsea squad which Di Matteo transformed incredibly and in addition, it has very little Championship experience. The new boss knows the league and this should be a huge tool in Villa’s bid for promotion. Overall, Xia’s first bit of business seems very wise indeed; a stark contrast from the Lerner years when foolhardy appointments like McCleish, Lambert and Garde were the order of the day.
Elphick (28) – Defender (£3m)
Gollini (21) – Goalkeeper (£4.25m)
Tshibola (21) – Midfielder (undisclosed fee)
Petrov (37) – Midfielder (No contract as of yet but involved in pre-season)
This once again looks like very astute business from Villa, Elphick captained the Cherries to promotion in 2015 so could be pivotal for Villa, offering both leadership and experience at the heart of what was a very rocky defence. Tshibola and Gollini show heaps of potential; Tshibola was highly rated by Reading fans with only injuries hindering the energetic youngster and Gollini is an incredibly exciting steal. The Italian Under 21’s keeper turned down a contract extension at United and before signing for Villa he rejected advances from Juventus because he had fears over playing time; the young man truly loves football and even claims the extra long championship season was one of the many lures Villa offered, This rare breed of a modern footballer should offer the talent and enthusiasm Villains have been praying to see between the sticks. Words cannot explain the magnitude of respect Stilyan Petrov deserves. The former Captain, leader and legend was diagnosed with Leukemia in March 2012 and had to step away from his captaincy, career and the Villa Park faithful. Stan has now beaten Leukemia, set up a charity and began pre-season training with Villa with hopes of playing for them once more. The Holte’s hero oozes class and determination, his presence in the dressing room alone next season would majorly bolster Villa’s chances of promotion and who would bet against the inspirational Bulrgarian making an impact on the pitch. All of these signings display wisdom whilst also offering Villa fans yet more hope of a positive season ahead and the return of Petrov has finally given the fans something to cheer; very good business indeed.
What should Tony address next?
Aston Villa’s squad has been bolstered by a few new signings, however there are fresh rumours of the imminent departures of both Carlos Sanchez and Jordan Ayew. The Ghanaian striker would certainly be a big loss, he was one of few bright sparks last season and offers both goals and hard work. If Villa let him leave then they need to find a suitable replacement; Gestede, Sinclair and Agbonlahor is quite frankly not enough firepower to comfortably secure promotion. The key weakness seems to now be in the right back area, Richards and Hutton were both poor last year, the massively talented Jordan Amavi (naturally a left back) is back from injury and can play on the right side, with Joe Bennet looking extremely impressive as a left back in pre-season thus far, this could be an easy solution.
The off the pitch situation also needs a fair amount of work, towards the end of last season, many fans completely lost faith with the historic club. Xia needs to create optimism to lure the fans back to Villa Park and to reinstall the sense of pride that should surround a club of Villa’s size; allowing Petrov to train with the squad was a fantastic move in terms of appeasing the fans. Dr Xia has also recently joined twitter and shows signs of actively trying to get fans on side; this is hugely encouraging as this was one of the many important duties overlooked completely by Lerner.
By no means have Villa undergone enough changes to ensure a swift return to the top flight, but their business up until now has been conducted in a way that should fill the fans with much needed hope. The Chinese Revolution is well under way, and this once great club has taken its first few steps back to the glory the fans deserve.