Who Have They Signed: So far, attacker Brett Holman from AZ on a free, Matthew Lowton from Sheffield United and Feyenoord’s Karim El Ahmadi and Ron Vlaar. All four have featured prominently in the blacklustre start to the season and should play some part against us, with £2million El Ahmadi scoring their only league goal of the season against Everton and £3.2 million Vlaas sporting a ridiculous head bandage in the defeat against West Ham. Vlaar described his move to Villa Park as a, “dream come true”, so we also know he doesn’t speak English very well.
Australian Brett Holman was actually signed by Alex Mcleish on a pre-contract agreement and that he has got a game so far may be more to do with Villa’s lack of decent players rather than his ability. Holman started the first game, lasting 61 minutes, came on as sub at half time in the second game and again as a sub after 67 minutes in the cup win over Tranmere. At that rate of depreciation, by mid-November he’ll be cutting the grass at Gateshead Stadium. Lowton has played on the right in all of The Villains games this season and as a £3million signing, Lambert obviously rates him. At 23, he has the potential to improve but the jump from League One to Premier League is a big one and he’ll need to learn fast if his confidence is not to dip.
This week Villa have bought 22 year old left back Joe Bennett from the Smogs for about £2.5 million and again, as the ‘North East young player of the year’ he is highly regarded but faces a challenging first few months. Tony Mowbray improved Bennett no end last season by asking him to play, “more like Clichy and Cole”, instructions that led to Bennett playing in the same style all year but in very expensive gloves, which probably wasn’t what Mowbray meant but you never know. Villa are likely to be active in the transfer market right up to the close of the transfer window and as we speak Lambert is trying to buy Clint Dempsey and any striker he can get his hands on. They’ve got six already. Unfortunately, only one of them can put his boots on the correct feet.
Who Have We Seen before: Ex-NUFC lads Shay Given, Charles N’Zogbia and Stephen Ireland. Shay Given was a top quality goalkeeper and has 450 Premier League appearances to his name, most of which were for us in a 12 year stint that almost made him our record appearance holder. After an outstanding career with NUFC, professionally speaking at least, he had every reason to move from our shambolic Ashley inspired mess of a relegation season to Manchester City, then the richest club in the world.
Personally speaking, his engineering of a move left a bad taste in my mouth and definitely contributed to our relegation, something I’m not all that keen on forgiving him for. He should play today and overall, will just about deserve his round of applause, though his Euro2012 and early season performances have shown that this could well be his last appearance at his spiritual home. Charles N’Zogbia played 158 games for us and scored a staggering 9 goals, a stat which tells us that when we sold him to Wigan for £6 million in the same transfer window as Given left for City, we let a blatantly average player go.
He left claiming that he wanted to play, “at a higher level”, but really he’ll never find that level unless it resides up his own arse, where he spends most of his time. He played well against us last season and a repeat of that performance could be Villa’s biggest threat to our three points. He normally plays well at SJP. Shame he couldn’t do that for us. Stephen Ireland came here on loan last season after falling out with then Manager Gerard Houllier. He played twice for us in his 4 month spell and was a total waste of time and effort.
The only time any of us noticed him was when he was photographed topless in a bar in town on a night out with Leon Best. At the time people complained, but I was always happier to see the two of them being photographed topless in town on a Friday night, than wearing one of our strips on a Saturday afternoon. Ireland is currently looking for a new contract as he only has two years left on his current deal and intends to put in some decent performances in the five games he’ll be fit for between now and May 2014. Probably not against us though, he’s already played once this season. He’ll need a rest.
How Will They Do This Season: An unbalanced squad of ageing has-beens, injury prone big-heads and inexperienced novices will struggle this season unless Villa’s American owners seriously loosen the purse strings today and in January. The only ray of light for Villa fans is that their manager is a better one than their main rivals in the bottom third of the table, but whether that will be enough to keep them out of trouble will be touch and go. I get the feeling that if Lambert and Villa can survive this season, they can slowly build and re-establish themselves in the top half of the Premier League in years to come. At the moment, that is looking like a pretty big ‘if’.
Are We going to Win: Definitely, as long as we mark that N’Zogbia bloke.
(***Despite very few tickets left for Villa at the ticket office, thanks to VIAGOGO you can still buy some of the best tickets in the house if you’re quick. VIAGOGO allow season ticket holders to put up tickets for sale that they cannot use and other fans can then buy them, click here for more details. Similarly if you’ve just found out you can’t use your season ticket on Sunday, go to VIAGOGO and get it sold! Remember you can also plan well ahead for future home matches whether you need to sell your season ticket for an individual match, or buy some of the best tickets in the ground)