Dave Woodhall talks about Villa’s start to the season and the end of the transfer window.
The first international weekend is a good place to draw a line under the early part of 2017-18, as well as to look at how many players with Villa connections are still in the England team and weep. By now you should have a fair idea how the rest of the season will pan out and you know which players will have to be used from now until January. The table is taking on its expected look, although no-one seriously thinks that Cardiff and Ipswich will be the two side promoted automatically. And where does that leave the club with the most expensive squad in the league, currently in eighteenth place?
Where, indeed. Villa haven’t exactly got off to a flying start, and the reasons for that have been discussed at length. Whether the summer’s new signings will be able to make up for last season’s disappointments is still unknown. The only late addition was Robert Snodgrass, which means that Steve Bruce must be planning on using more of the younger players in the squad than might have been imagined.
If it works out and Villa are in the top six come January on the back of top-class performances from Andre Green, Keinan Davis and few others, Bruce will be a genius. If the team are still where they are now, it won’t be Bruce’s concern because if he is still a manager it won’t be at Villa Park.
The summer was certainly far removed from last year, when money was invested/wasted on big name players with little regard about how they would fit into a team. This time round Bruce has gone for experience and solidity, at least on paper. There’s not been anywhere near as much spent, with reports that Villa are worried about the implications of breaching FFP regulations. If that’s true then they should be congratulated, because they seem to be the only club in the world so concerned. Then again we’re the only club in history to be found guilty of poaching a player we didn’t sign, so we have form in that respect.
And so we move into the next phase of the season. Villa have got some important games in September and every one during the month is winnable. I always think that targets are a bit daft because you never know what the other clubs will do, but we should be looking at a total in the region of twelve points from the six league fixtures, and getting through to round four of the League Cup would be nice as well.
The month kicks off with a home game against Brentford, whose manager Dean Smith will be linked with the Villa job until he retires. That’s what being successful and from Great Barr does for you, although Steve Winwood might argue. Three points and a few goals will be a good start to what could prove a particularly significant few weeks.