The Benteke replacement: On process, results, and Libor Kozak

Jamie McDonald - Getty Images

It's fantastic that Libor Kozak scored, but that doesn't make his signing any more logical.

One rather snarky twitter-er asked after the Norwich City match if I'd be complaining any more about the Libor Kozak signing. The thinking there, I assume, was "Kozak's goal won a match, this obviously proves he was a good signing. Also, Christian Benteke is injured, so look, depth!" And I'd like to address that, not because it really bugs me if some random person on twitter disagrees with me, but because I think it's really important that we not confuse process and results. For a quick primer, read this piece I put together almost exactly two years ago.

But to put it shortly now: I still think Aston Villa should not have signed Libor Kozak. As I made abundantly clear at the time, my opinion has very little to do with Kozak - I'm not thrilled about his skillset, but I do think he can be useful - and more to do with the fact that he filled a need that the team doesn't have. Yes, he provides depth in a position where Aston Villa had a player just injured.

But do you know where that depth would have been more valuable? In the defense, where injuries are absolutely plaguing an already poor unit. The loss, this week, of Jores Okore hurts, and it would be great to have another center back of his quality to take the space. Antonio Luna took a knock on Sunday and may or may not be ready to go this week. Ciaran Clark has already missed time this season, and we know that Ron Vlaar is injury prone.

Sadly, Villa have very little depth in the defense, and what there is is not that versatile. It's easier for forwards to move around than it is for defenders. Sure, you may specialize in the flank or center as a forward, but your general job description is "run forward, get in front of goal, shoot, score." As an outside defender, you've got the responsibility for starting counter-attacks and moving up and down the pitch quickly. This differs wildly from the responsibilities of the central defense. You've got to carry a lot of defenders if you want to have adequate depth in front of the keeper, and Villa just don't have that.

Kozak's goal was great, and it was awesome to see Villa win. But a good result does not retroactively make a puzzling decision any better. I still think it was a poor move to sign Kozak, even if he proves to be of great value. Sometimes good things can come out of bad process, and it is important that we evaluate those things seperately.

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