Ever since the departure of Martin O Neil just seven days prior to the start of the 2010/2011 season, Aston Villa fans haven’t had much to shout about. Two underwhelming seasons under two very underwhelming managers has reaffirmed Aston Villa back to the status of a ‘sleeping giant’ club and yet again they need a Martin O’Neil type character to reinvigorate the under-achieving Midlands side. They may have found the answer to their prayers following the recent appointment of Paul Lambert, a man very befitting of Randy Lerner’s personal requirements following Alex McLeish’s departure to find a ‘young, vibrant manager to reinvigorate the club.’
The animated Scot, at just forty-two years of age has completely turned round a Norwich side that just two years ago were struggling to hold their own in football’s third tier. Now with Chairman Randy Lerner reportedly opening his wallet to assist his new manager with re-building Villa’s floundering squad, here are three key players they should be targeting if Villa want to pick up where they left off under O’Neil and be setting their sights on the ultimate prize of Champions League football.
An out and out striker: Darren Bent and Gabriel Agbonlahor are now officially Villa’s only experienced strikers following the departure of Emile Heskey. With only a youthful Andreas Weimann acting as cover for the Villain’s front-line, it’s imperative that a seasoned Premier League marksman is obtained this summer.
Possible Targets: Grant Holt, Steven Fletcher, Danny Graham, Michael Owen, Jermaine Defoe.
A battling defensive midfielder: Very sadly, Aston Villa’s loyal captain Stilian Petrov will be out of action for the foreseeable future following a life-threatening illness which as a result has left a gaping void in Villa’s midfield. With Stephen Ireland very much being relied upon to be the creative engine behind Villa’s attack, Lambert needs an assured midfielder who can provide good cover for his frail-looking back-four. However, with the forgotten Cameroon international Jean Makoun who was sent out on loan last season, Villa may not have to look any further than their own door step to find their man.
Possible Targets: Tiago, Emmanuel Frimpong, Paul Scharner, Steven N’Zonzi.
A left-back: Pure and simple Villa’s defence needs bolstering and many Villains have argued their defensive frailties have lain foremost with under-performing left-back Stephen Warnock. Lambert has two options this season; either to get Warnock back to the form he was under O’Neil which earned him an England call-up to the 2010 World Cup squad or to briskly cut Warnock from the squad’s roster and get searching for his replacement.
Possible Targets: Ryan Bertrand, John Arne Riise, Maynor Figueroa.