On Saturday, I suggested that Aston Villa have a few games in which they look to be severe underdogs and could potentially run out a very young starting XI. It might seem odd to run out a team that is more likely to get beaten in already tough games, but it makes some sense. Villa are likely not a candidate for relegation at this point in the season, but it would still be helpful for them to pick up a few more points before all is said and done. Matches against Stoke, Norwich, West Brom, and eventually Bolton all present opportunities for Villa to get at least one point, and possibly three. Well, if these seem our most likely chances at improving the point total for the season, we should run out our absolute best squad. Take a "should happen" and turn it into a "will happen." This, of course, assume that the team doesn't play like they did this last weekend.
But with those four matches presenting the possibility of points, I think it's pretty safe to safe that Villa shouldn't expect too many points out of their other matches. Starting this weekend when Chelsea visit Villa Park and followed by matches at Liverpool (ok, that may be a possible win), Manchester United, and against Sunderland and Tottenham, Villa have the chance to take games that will likely be losses and turn them into opportunities for growth.
Sure, perhaps it isn't wise to punt the match in front of the Villa Park faithful. And even if it were wise, I'm not sure you could ever convince Alex McLeish to do it. The fans loathe him and he knows it, so he's not going to give up on matches at home. That still leaves the Liverpool and Manchester United matches in which the Villa youth could get a run out. What's the worst that can happen? If the young team gets clobbered, well that's what we expected from a veteran team anyhow. No one can possibly expect this year's Villa team to go into Old Trafford and come away with anything, so the youth can't disappoint too much.There's minimal risk of mentally scarring them, as it should be a very low-pressure outing.
But, even if you can't expect a point or three, you can hope for it. And what if we got that with the team's youngest players on the pitch? Imagine the morale boost it would give to both players and fans. It could be monumental, and we could look back and realize that was when we saw how much potential Villa had.
So who would I like to see run out? What sort of formation could we ask for? The most obvious requests would be to get Andreas Weimann, Gary Gardner, Barry Bannan, Eric Lichaj, and possibly (maybe?) Samir Carruthers and Enda Stevens into the group. You'll notice that I've named six players. This would be a wholesale change from what Villa have been doing. It would look shocking to see. Perhaps the team could play in a 4-3-3 with Weiman, Gardner, and Carruthers up front, Bannan in the middle, and Stevens and Lichaj in the back. From there, just fill in the gaps. Try telling me this lineup wouldn't interest you:
D: Stevens, Cuellar, Collins, Lichaj
M: Ireland, Bannan, Petrov
F: Carruthers, Gardner, Weimann
Yes, some people will have to play a bit out of position, but that could be tweaked. Not every one of these players needs to see the pitch at once. But really, that would be so much fun to see. We'd have no expectations whatsoever, and it would be entirely upside. It has the bonus of getting a lot of players some Premier League experience.
I can't see any downside to punting a few matches and giving them to the team's youth. Maybe I'm wrong though. It might be that the desire for some change, any change, has driven me mad. What do you think?