Aston Villa have announced that longtime academy director Bryan Jones will be retiring at the end of August. Unlike the news of the suspensions of Ian Culverhouse and Gary Karsa, this is entirely voluntary, but it still represents a blow to a club that has had a jarring week. Jones has been the director of Villa's academy since 1997 and has overseen the progress of players such as Gary Cahill, Craig Gardner, Gabby Agbonlahor, and Marc Albrighton.
Villa's academy is widely considered to be one of the best in England, consistently producing players who move on to first-team play at Villa and elsewhere. Just last year, the youth squad won the NextGen Cup, a prestigious Champions League-like competition for academies from across Europe. While a majority of academy players never become regular contributors for Aston Villa, it only takes a few here and there to be incredibly helpful.
Jones' replacement will be chosen soon, with Jones himself having significant input in the decision. If new ownership are truly coming to Aston Villa, we have to hope that they will prioritize the academy as much as it currently is and that the new director will be as good as Jones was.
And after years of service to Aston Villa, it's safe to say that all fans wish Jones nothing but the best in his retirement. Enjoy the free time!