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What If He Stays? Alan Hutton's Place on the Squad

We've all been presuming that Alan Hutton will not be with Aston Villa by the time the transfer window closes. Reports have been swirling that Paul Lambert saw no place for Hutton in his system and that the right back would be shipped out at some point. Overall, I think most of us saw this as welcome news. After his showing last season, I doubt any of us want to see the Scot wearing the claret and blue again.

When the roster was announced for the US tour, it seemed as if we had received confirmation of what we all suspected. Hutton was nowhere to be found. Certainly, given everything we had read and heard, this had to be the death knell of the defender's time at Villa.

But, it's ten days before the first match of the season (sidebar: wheeeeeeeeeeee), and Hutton is still around. That could certainly change, but it's looking more and more likely that he will be with the team through at least the January transfer window. No one has shown any interest in him, and can you blame them? If you were a fan of another team and they said "Hey, that Alan Hutton guy doesn't look half bad," you'd riot, right? Even though he would cost far less than the £6 million he cost to get, it would still look like a bad deal.

So if Hutton is going to be around, what do Villa do with him? For all of his faults, he is an extremely aggressive defender who can (and will) break up the flow of play in what might otherwise be a lovely match. That's a skill-set that has some use. If you think back to last year, there were a few times where it made sense to bring in Emile Heskey despite his diminishing skills as a striker. Sometimes it's useful to have an aggressive player at a particular part of the field.

In a match against a possession-minded opponent, Hutton could certainly be useful as a sub or possibly even a starter. If your attack relies on passes up the side, you'll not likely want to go through Alan Hutton, as he;s likely to injure one of your players. In short, he can be utilized to slow down the tempo. Given Villa's paucity of depth in the defense, it makes sense to keep Hutton around for this purpose. We'd be paying him anyhow, might as well make him useful in whatever way is possible.

But against anyone else? Let's all hope he's not even selected for the bench. We all saw what happens when a ball gets past Hutton, and we all saw what happens when he tries to attack. More often than not, Hutton's forays into creativity ended in disaster. Nobody wants to see that.

So, if he's used as an aggressive stopper, Hutton might be useful, and we all might be able to come to terms with the fact that he's still around. Anything else and I think we're all clear to be irritated.