Dear Santa

I know you’re busy this time of year but I wonder if you’ve seen some of the news over the last couple of days? I’m sure you’ve certainly noticed our travails over the past year or two.

Things have been difficult if truth be told, and with January almost upon us, the clamour has already started over what potential signings we’re definitely trying to consider possibly making… maybe.

Steve McClaren’s distanced the club from the signing of a striker in January. Yoan Gouffran’s up for sale for a few magic beans, or near offer. Colo needs a talented Championship level understudy to push him for his starting spot. WE NEED ANOTHER LIGHTWEIGHT FRENCH WINGER.

Frankly Santa, it’s all a bit of a mess, but we suspect we know how this is going to go:

1st January 2016: “Toon Army linked with talented Bundesliga/Ligue 1/Eredivisie [delete as applicable] youngster [insert names here].”

31st January 2016: “[Every other relegation battle club – delete as applicable] signs talented youngster [insert above names here].”

I suppose by now we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be deluded by the rumblings emanating from the boardroom as gears grind slowly into first by around the 23rd, only to hit a clunking third just as the last fax tumbles to the floor of the Aston Villa offices at a couple of minutes after midnight, that fine February morn.


However, it is Christmas time, so what’s wrong with a little bit of ho-ho-hope?

Santa, if you’re still reading and the Ashley regime resignation and bitterness we all feel and rail against on a daily basis hasn’t encouraged you to hang up your scarlet duds and send Rudolf off to the Lapland Glue Company, then really, truly, if you’re going to let us have a dash of festive cheer or a sprinkling of yuletide spirit, then for Christmas this year I would like a big, battling midfielder.

I don’t want some tricksy metronome of a player…

I want a bruiser, someone to get the ball and not so much burst, as assault, his way through the descending hordes. I don’t want a drifting interception machine, traversing unseen lines and attracting passes like a 4 foot electromagnet. I want 190 centimetres of unadulterated brute strength and power, as able to hit the opposition penalty area with naught so much as a clue of what to do next, as to arrive two-footed, over-committed, recklessly and barely in time to block a shot with his most sensitive of areas.

I want Etienne Capoue, I want Cheikhou Kouyaté. I want Emre Can. I want James McCarthy. Hell, I’d probably take Joey Barton at this stage.

We’ve moaned forever about how weak our defence is, without really considering what they face. We moan about Sissoko drifting in and out of games or losing his full-back, without ever wondering if that’s the best possible use of one of our main attacking threats.

Colback, Anita, or Tiote are all well and good, but they are very much at their limit in protecting a confidence starved back line, and covering for an attack minded front four.

Why not strengthen the hand of one of them, by pitting them next to a locomotive, a box to box destroyer, a bloody great shire horse of a player? With some real strength and commitment in front of Colo and Mbemba, behind Gini and Sissoko, and alongside a player like young Colback who looks absolutely itching to really get playing, we might just bring out the best in all of them.

Now I’m not a demanding man, Santa. I realise all the names I’ve listed above are firmly ensconced in the long-term plans of their various clubs and managers, so I’ll be easy, I’ll be vague, I’ll be happy with whatever I get (unless it’s Kevin Nolan… I think he needs sending to that same glue factory I mentioned earlier…), so I’ll leave it to you and your lovely elves who like to comment below the line to come up with a fine list of suitably qualified and available names.

I hope you read this and can accommodate my wish, Santa. I’ve been a really good boy this year (apart from that incident at the glue factory, although that wasn’t entirely my fault) so if you could see fit to provide us with our very own midfield juggernaut this Christmas, I promise I’ll leave out two mince pies and a dram of the good whiskey.

Yours hopefully,


Follow Rich on Twitter @Rich_pye

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