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Dave’s Villa Blog



Dave Woodhall gets over those close season (claret and) blues by reflecting on the latest comings and goings at Villa Park.

The players are back training, they’ve got a couple of friendlies under their belts and what do we find? A lot of speculation, plenty of rumours from those in the know (have you noticed how the loudest voices on the internet always seem to be the ones with the ‘contacts’?) and very little in the way of fact.

A few things we know for definite. Steve Sidwell’s joined for anything from £4.5–6 million. He’s a solid, reliable sort who played more often for Chelsea last season than most people think. The type of player Martin O’Neill likes working with, I’d be surprised if Sidwell isn’t playing for England within two years.

It’s fairly obvious that he’s a replacement for Gareth Barry, who will be moving on once a fee has been decided, although again, it wouldn’t be a great shock if he went elsewhere than Liverpool.

I remember Gareth Southgate all set to join Chelsea, then when that deal fell through he was so far out the door he couldn’t get back in and had to pick the best subsequent offer he could get.

We’re also about to sign goalkeeper Brad Guzen from MLS side Chivas Regal, sorry, Chivas USA. He seems to be one for the future, which means a short-term experienced arrival such as Brad Friedel might also be in the offing. A top-quality keeper at Villa Park is overdue; it’s a position where we’ve struggled to achieve any consistency since the Rimmer-Spink-Bosnich dynasty.

We need a right-back, we need what I still refer to as a right-winger even if the phrase did go out with the maximum wage and centre-partings. We could do with a central defender (although maybe not Anton Ferdinand) and a goalscorer. And I’d like us to finally realise that whatever talent Stilian Petrov possesses will never be seen at Villa Park on a regular basis. So a creative midfielder as well, please. 

Another six new signings are essential if we’re going to keep up the fantastic progress of the last two seasons and make any headway in the cups. They’ll cost money but we’ve got plenty.

Don’t ask me to name names. I don’t spend my waking hours playing computer games and watching obscure foreign leagues on cable TV so I’m not up to speed on the abilities of every player in Europe. If Martin reckons they’re good enough for him, I’ll go along with that. Just go out and do it quickly.

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