The most exciting news from yesterday was undoubtedly the unveiling of Aston Villa's new home kits. I like them, but I've still got a soft spot for last year's. I realize I am utterly alone in this feeling. Aside from that, a few interesting stories popped up since our last links post, and you'll find them below!
- Aston Villa have back-up options should a deal with Wigan Athletic winger Charles N'Zogbia not go through. With Wigan having rejected the 9 million pound big put forth by Aston Villa, Alex McLeish is now turning his attention to Aiden McGeady and Shaun Wright-Phillips, according to Mat Kendrick of the Birmingham Mail. I'm not as keen on either of those players as I am on N'Zogbia, but at this point I'd be happy if McLeish could get anyone to occupy the left wing. Perhaps he could train a dog.
- If Villa do sign any of the above-mentioned players it will likely mark the end of their major summer spending, writes Mat Kendrick. (Can we rename this feature the Mat Kendrick Link Dump? Would anyone mind? That man is a reporting machine.) The reaction to this news on twitter yesterday was stunning. You would have thought Randy Lerner had decided to sell off the rest of the squad for half-price. I understand that we want Lerner to invest as much money as needed to make the club one of the best in Europe, but this isn't the year for that.
Instead, this is probably a year where we see a bottom-half finish, but ahead of relegation. There is a definite upside here, but until the wage bill accumulated - primarily by MON - can come down a bit and allow McLeish to truly mold the team in his own image we're going to have to be content with a bit of a tighter budget. I'm not too worried about it. This isn't the Birmingham City team that dropped. Aston Villa have plenty of talent on the squad list now, and combined with McLeish's defensive acumen I suspect that this will be a consistently solid team. If things go as expected (or, hopefully, better) this season, I would bet that the January transfer window might see another big move, and I'd put money on seeing more spending next summer. Sit tight, everyone. This team is a fixer-upper right now.
- After last season's problems with Stephen Ireland, Robert Pires, and Stephen Warnock living far from Birmingham, the Birmingham Mail tells us that Alex McLeish is trying to get the team to move nearer to the second city. I don't know if this is really a big deal, but it certainly can't hurt the team.
- In an article in the Daily Mail that is ostensibly about Darren Bent not hating Ashley Young and Stewart Downing for leaving, we get news that the team gets the sense that fans are starting to come back around to the team. This probably shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. Despite the absurd fringe elements, most fans are at least decently happy with the team, and I think we can agree that regardless of what happened in the offseason, we all just want to see soccer soon.
- Finally, a bit of self promotion. You guys voiced a desire to see more writing on tactics, and the first installment of what will be an occasional series is now up. Give it a read and let me know what you think! I'm eager to get feedback and ideas for future installments.