Aston Villa’s slide down the Championship table has been painful to witness for supporters at Villa Park.
Fuelled by a cash injection from new owners, the club were expected to accelerate to the summit of England’s second tier this season after the heartbreak of play-off final defeat in May 2018.
Since dropping out of the Premier League in 2016, the Villans have adopted a policy of adding expensive recruits to their squad in an attempt to return to the promised land.
Although the likes of loanees Yannick Bolasie and Tammy Abraham may not command huge fees, their wages will place a strain on the club’s wage budget. They were just two of ten new recruits added to a squad that was already brimming with talent.
There are several reasons for Villa’s inability to propel themselves into the promotion picture thus far, one of which is their reluctance to promote from within.
Leeds United currently sit top of the Championship table, yet Marcelo Bielsa hasn’t made wholesale changes to the squad that stuttered to a 13th-placed finish in terms of personnel. Nine of the eleven players that started in the Yorkshire side’s 1-1 draw with Brentford yesterday were available to the Whites during the 2017/18 campaign. When holes have opened up in the Argentine’s squad, he has plugged them with youngsters such as Jamie Shackleton, Tom Pearce, Ryan Edmondson and Jack Clarke.
It certainly seems like the time for the Midlands strugglers to adopt the approach taken by Bielsa at Elland Road and develop the talent they already possess.
With just under three months remaining until the opening of the next transfer window, the club will need to look at their current resources in order to halt their descent.
However, in order for fringe players and academy prospects to be developed into first-team options, Steve Bruce’s replacement must be adept in man-management and brave enough to draft in alternatives.
Several names have been linked with the vacant managerial role at Villa Park, including Thierry Henry, David Moyes and Rafael Benitez.
Whoever takes over may look to hand opportunites to the likes of Jake Doyle-Hayes and Rushian Hepburn-Murphy, who have both already tasted first-team football. Doyle-Hayes is a Republic of Ireland youth international, whereas Hepburn-Murphy represents England at under-20 level. Hepburn-Murphy’s England teammate Keinan Davis will also be an option for the new manager following his recent return from injury.
Unless Villa’s current crop of under-performing senior players can swiftly improve their form, promoting from within may be the only way to reverse the club’s fortunes.
Aston Villa will welcome Swansea City to the Midlands on Saturday 20th October and could have a new man at the helm by the time Graham Potter’s side arrive at Villa Park.