As the Premier League edges ever closer, conversations are starting to be had regarding the upcoming season. Who will win the league? Who will be the best signing? And the question that will affect Villa this season, who will stay up?
There is a general trend that won’t be music to Villa fans ears, of the previous 4 seasons (2015-2019) 3 teams that went up through the play-offs went straight back down.
The only time in the last 4 seasons that the play-off winner has stayed up was when Huddersfield stayed up in 2018, despite having one of the weakest squads in the league.
There are two approaches that can be taken by clubs that have been promoted teams; continuity or a squad overhaul.
Fulham are an example of a team that has attempted an overhaul of their squad. Fulham signed 12 players for a combined £101 million as well as the costs of 4 loans. Although some players they signed looked good on paper, the squad never gelled as a result and they went down without much of a fight, collecting just 26 points and being 10 points off safety.
On the flip side continuity is also a valid option and can be more effective.
A team that used this to their advantage is Brighton.
They brought in 11 players over the course of the season (including January) for a total of roughly £55 million. Although this may not seem like a large sum, they spent wisely on players that would fill and potentially improve their squad.
An example of a very smart signing was Pascal Gross from Ingolstadt for £2.7 million. In his first season he was largely responsible for Brighton’s premier league success. In his first season he got 7 goals and 8 assists in 38 games. Only Glenn Murray scored more goals than Gross but no one got more assists.
In relative terms, Brighton have been successful in the Premier League so far and they have done this by making smart signings and keeping the core group of players that helped them get into the division.
In terms of odds Villa are fifth favourite to be relegated at the time of writing.
Currently Sheffield United are 4/6 to be relegated this season which is the most likely, whereas Villa are 9/4 to go down.
I think that with more signings that will fill and improve our squad these odds should improve. The most likely teams to go down according to current betting trends are Sheffield United, Norwich and Burnley.
This is because they have spent very little so far in the window with Luke Freeman to Sheffield United being the most expensive player signed by those three teams at a reported £5 million.
This contrasts to Villa who have signed Jota, El Ghazi, Hause, Targett and Wesley, which shows that Villa have strong intent in the window in our bid to survive and do well in the premier league.
Another Positive aspect of the transfer window for Villa is that they have been ruthless in terms of releasing players.
9 players were released by the club following the end of the season.
This shows a new side to the club where previously sentiment was worth too much.
Ross McCormack still had time remaining on his contract but was paid off and released. This underlines that the owners and Dean Smith won’t be tolerating any players with poor attitudes in the squad.
Overall this should hopefully result in a positive dressing room atmosphere, but will also reduce the chances of future signings from having poor attitudes; which can only be a good thing.
15/16- 1 promoted team went down (play-offs)
16/17- 2 promoted teams went down (1 play-off)
17/18- 0 promoted teams went down
18/19- 2 promoted teams went down (1 play-off)
Sheffield United- 4/6 (£16.67 return) *
Norwich- 21/20 (£20.50 return) *
Burnley- 21/10 (£31.00 return) *
Brighton- 21/10 (£31.00 return) *
Aston Villa- 9/4 (£32.50 return) *
Newcastle- 4/1 (£50.00 return) *
*Based on a £10 stake.
Sheffield United- £38 million
Norwich- £81 million
Brighton- £203 million
Aston Villa- £133 million
Newcastle- £207 million