Connor Wickham, as announced earlier, was one of our signings. Just 22, he brings with him the youthful promise that made me spend 5 million on him. He will be the English face of the team.
Billy Jones was the second Englishman brought in. Moving from Sunderland, Jones has the experience and versatility required, which will benefit the Villa squad. Leandro Bacuna had to go the other way, which is sad as we would have kept him but he needed game time which we could not offer.
Markel Bergara, an experienced Spanish midfielder, also came in on the same day, with Ashley Westwood and some cash going the other way. He will help in maintaining the squad unity and team spirit. He has also already played for Stoke in Top 100 which will help us.
3 mil represents excellent value for the Portuguese right-back. Formerly of Dynamo Zagreb/Norwich City, Ivo Pinto will be our rotation right-back and shall expect to play a fair number of games this season.
Villa would like to thank Kozak for his services, 7 goals, 5 assists and 3 MOMs from 14 games last season in D3 is excellent, when he had almost faded out of sight. Sad to let him go, but he is declining. Hope he will get a new team some day.
Tomas Kalas was a rare deal done with a managed team. It is a deal which we are very happy with. Despite cheaper options available, we chose to plump out 6 mil for this talent as we believe he can do very well at Villa. Chelsea dealt swiftly in selling Kalas and we hope he will do well here.
Last, but not the least, was the arrival of our new goalkeeper, Marwin Hitz. He is younger than Brad Guzan and an improvement, you could say. Very happy to get him. Can also pop in with a late goal, too.
So that is it for the new signings. One more player could still come in, next week or so, but in that case Gabriel Agbonlahor will have to leave. Promising.
Squad numbers for the new season have also been announced, with some significant changes. Here they are:
FrankBet has us favourites for 4th (play-offs), however after the disappointment of last season we hope to go one better and qualify directly. The chairman laid before me the following objectives:
Division 3- top 3 (direct promotion)
Cup- 4th round
Shield- 4th round
Youth Cup- Ro16
Finally, the press conference. Briefly, Rahul W spoke about the importance of squad unity and team spirit after the numerous transfer made. He believes that this was necessary in order to freshen up the squad. Given that squad rotation is highly favoured by the manager, all players will get their game time, so that is not a worry. As one of the favoured teams in D3, we must make sure that we perform when we turn up on the field. We need to live up to the pressure and expectation. No excuses in the second season. When asked about whether he would leave for another club, Rahul W was quoted as saying that “there are no guarantees in football. If the right project comes up, I will consider it carefully after discussing with the club. It all depends on what is the right option for the club and I. There is no difference in the ambition showed by good ol’ Randy and me though, that we want to take this club to D3. Even if I am not there, someone will. I am happy I rejected the big offer from Dortmund as stability is important at our club and there are things more important than trophies. Still, that is all speculation. I hope to enjoy my season here and enjoy success. Have a good year and enjoy a mince pie”. With that, the presser concluded.
That rounds up today’s blog post, elongated, but provides an insight into life at Villa. Good luck to all teams in this season. Cheers!