Villa scout heads for pastures more grün than this

Alex Livesey

Michael Henke, head of European scouting for Aston Villa, is off to Germany's second division. Is this a sign of what's to come at the club?

It is difficult to see how this isn't a sign of difficulties within Aston Villa football club. Michael Henke, the head of European scouting, will leave the club in February. Henke, a former assistant manager under Paul Lambert, joined up with Villa last August. Now, he's headed to Bavaria, to accept a coaching role with 2. Bundesliga side FC Ingolstadt.

It's possible that Henke simply wanted to return to coaching. Perhaps he didn't feel fulfilled by scouting. But, in keeping with the pessimism surrounding the club, this announcement feels far more sinister. It's hard not to imagine that Henke is leaving because what he brings to the club is being ignored. Without the funds for new players, it would seem there's little point in scouting throughout Europe.

Of course, there's also the little matter of how poorly the club is playing, and what the transfers outside England have brought to Villa. Christian Benteke looked wonderful for a spell, but now he's back to squandering chances. Watching Brett Holman is a bit like riding a roller-coaster. Ron Vlaar vanished.

Michael Henke had little-to-nothing to do with these specific transfers. But if the club is moving away from looking outside the British Isles, and back toward players with "proven Premier League experience", there's little need to pay someone to sit in the stands at Eredivisie matches.

What say you? Is Henke leaving a sign of the direction Villa plan to take? Or is it simply a matter of his desire to return to coaching?

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