The promise of youth might be a bright spot for what seems destined to be an uncertain season at Aston Villa Football Club.
The season ahead promises to be a tough one for Villa, and Steve Bruce especially. He knows the owner is in a spot of bother financially, openly welcoming offers of new investment while trying to act as a CEO, chairman and owner simultaneously. Sporting Director Steve Round is gone and Bruce has been given sole responsibility of signing players (well, at least we think).
Bruce’s modus operandi at Villa has been to buy or loan players with Championship or Premier League experience, ones who can handle the pressure of playing for the club week in and week out. These players don’t come cheap either, see: Terry, John. The aforementioned cash problems at the club will ensure Bruce won’t be able to offer such lucrative pay packages this summer, so he’ll need to alter his strategy.
I think it’s time that Villa, as a club, and Bruce as manager, start to place their faith in the talented young players at the club rather than simply stockpiling veterans at every position. I mentioned that Bruce likes experience and even though the likes of a John Terry, Robert Snodgrass and Chris Samba have left, this squad is still not a particularly young one. Assuming Jack Grealish, James Chester and Jonathan Kodjia are sold to raise capital as expected, every position bar centre back is occupied with numbers and experience.
Jed Steer can learn from experienced keeper Mark Bunn, Alan Hutton and Neil Taylor have played hundreds of games in their careers and the likes of Mitch Clark and Easah Suliman can only learn from them. Mile Jedinak and Glenn Whelan will undoubtedly pass on their knowledge to Jake Doyle-Hayes and Callum O’Hare. While Rushian Hepburn Murphy only has to look at the rise of Keinan Davis last season as inspiration. I think it’s important to have a mix of young and experienced players in a squad and this Villa team has that, if used correctly.
The pool of youth at the club gives Bruce a chance to prove he has another arrow in his quiver. He isn’t just a “chequebook” manager. He can enhance his reputation with the Villa support and buy more time for himself, and the club by giving the kids a go.