By Owen Moring.
Aston Villa survived the drop by the skin of their teeth and will be hoping for a more convincing campaign in the 20/21 Premier League season. In order to achieve this, a successful summer transfer window is required.
Here are five things Aston Villa need to in the transfer market, and generally this summer, in order to prepare for next season.
Keep some stability
There were plenty of ins and outs ahead of Villas return to the Premier League, with 13 new signings making up the squad — many of whom failed to impress.
For things to be different this time around, the club must maintain the core of the team, including hanging onto star players Jack Grealish, Douglas Luiz, John McGinn, Ezri Konsa, and Tyrone Mings.
This may prove to be difficult, especially with ongoing speculation surrounding captain, Grealish. Maintaining unity and keeping the bonds that have been built over time at Villa Park will allow new faces to settle more quickly, and gel with the rest of the squad, which a big problem ahead of the 19/20 campaign.
Add goals and pace
A big issue from last season was the distinct lack of speed and goals up front. Wide men Anwar El Ghazi, Trezeguet, and Jota failed to impress for large parts of the season, despite Trezeguet going on a goalscoring run towards the end.
A reoccurring criticism surrounding these players was their lack of pace, which was a problem when Villa wanted to counter-attack.
As well as this, Villa struggled to find a regular goalscorer, with Grealish leading the charts in terms of goals scored despite only getting eight.
A regular goal-scorer would make a huge difference for Villa, who missed 39 big chances last season.
Chief executive Christian Purslow and manager Dean Smith’s policy of wanting young and hungry players somewhat backfired, with a huge lack of experience really showing on the pitch.
Goalkeeper Tom Heaton and his replacement Pepe Reina were the only two players in the squad with a lot of experience, which reflected on the pitch and the incredible 10 errors leading to goals from the team last season — the most in the Premier League.
Villa decided not to sign former player and experienced centre half Garry Cahill on a free transfer, when he could have made a huge difference to a defence which conceded the second-most goals in the league. Only relegated Norwich shipped more.
Bring in a leader
As well as the lack of experience, there was also a lack of leadership in the side. Aside from Tyrone Mings, who is a born leader, and Reina who only arrived in January, the young Villa side had a clear lack of experience which goes hand-in-hand with the ‘errors leading to goals’ stat.
Villa were missing someone to organise each area of the pitch, and this might also be reflected in the number of goals conceded from corners and set pieces — 15.
Leaders all over the pitch will be crucial if Villa are to push on and really establish themselves as a Premier League side.
Quality not quantity
Smith had to rebuild a whole squad following his side’s return to the top flight, which was the reason there were so many newcomers.
However, to have quality all over the pitch, it is now more important for the money to be spent on fewer players, but better players.
Villa have the fifth least valuable squad in the Premier League, proving the lack of quality. In order to kick on and improve on their 35 points tally, it is important that they buy three or four Premier League quality players, rather than six or seven Championship quality players.