You may have noticed yesterday that we didn't have a Friday Feedback. Actually, scratch that, in all the hubbub, there was absolutely no way that you either noticed or cared that our beloved feature was nowhere to be found. But rest assured, had you noticed - and been worried - there was a reason. This week's question would have been stale by next Friday and unanswerable before yesterday morning.
You will, as always, find our answers below. However, we're particularly keen to get your input this week. So make sure that you dive into the comments and let us know what you think of Paul Lambert's moves in the transfer market.
Oh wait, I just gave it away. Well shoot. Without further ado, here it is:
This Week's Question: It's obviously too early to tell much of anything, but let's be rash: what do you think of Villa's moves in the transfer market since Paul Lambert has arrived?
Gareth: All told, I think it's been a pretty successful window for Paul Lambert. We knew that both he and Randy Lerner would prefer to think small, buying relative unknowns, particularly from the lower leagues (Lambert because he did it at Norwich, Lerner because it keeps the wage bill down.) I'm excited to see how our new players fit in to the squad, as Lambert still seems to be figuring out what our best eleven looks like. I understand the desire to buy big names with Premiership experience, but that's not what will help Aston Villa long term. Besides, Randy Lerner still has the "Break In Case Of Emergency" window in January if the next few months turn out for the worst.
I'm particularly excited to see Ashley Westwood play, particularly given the comparisons to Danny Murphy (by Crewe fans) and Michael Carrick (by the player himself.) I think he's got some real potential, and could be at this club for some time.
Aaron: I'm feeling quite good. Obviously I'd have loved more, and I think that's always going to be true. And I really wish we could have found new homes for Alan Hutton and Stephen Warnock. But at the end of last season, the general consensus seemed to be that we needed a new center back, new left and right backs,a striker, and some midfield depth. We ticked all of those boxes and then some; Vlaar and El Ahmadi are already solid Premier League players, Lowton has been encouraging, and there's a lot to like about the other players we have yet to see in a Villa shirt.
Gareth has touched on Westwood and I share his thoughts, so I'll talk about Benteke; he's a very raw player and I think that anyone that's expecting him to come into the league and dominate is fooling themselves. With that being said, he gives us another option up top and brings the kind of skillset I think this team is really lacking, a big forward that can mix it up with opposing center backs and hold up play.
This is going to be an interesting season, and seeing how these kids develop is going to be a big part of that. When you consider also that Lambert apparently had more money to spend and chose not to do so, I think it looks even better; that's makes it more likely that there will be money to spend in January if need-be, and if Lambert feels comfortable with this squad as-is then I am as well. This is the guy we knew we were getting, and I don't see any reason to feel less confident because he's done pretty much exactly what we would have expected.
Robert: I'm ecstatic, really. As late as Thursday, none of the big end-of-window signings had come through, and Villa still had some pretty big gaps to fill. And then Friday happened. The team have done everything that could be asked of them. There's a chance that not everyone pans out, but at that point it's a matter of bad luck rather than bad process.
Furthermore, the reason Villa were in position to be able to fulfill their needs in the final week was their moves earlier in the summer. The Ron Vlaar and Karim El Ahmadi signings were especially helpful, as they are two fantastic players around whom the team can be built. And that's what really impressed me. There was a great balance of players who would make an immediate impact - Christian Benteke, El Ahmadi, Vlaar - and players who may contribute in a huge manner in the future - Ashley Westwood, Jordan Bowery, Joseph Bennett. Lambert is building a club that should be competitive for some years to come, and that's exciting.
Could Lambert have gotten more? Could Lerner have opened the purse more? Sure. But there is ALWAYS something more that could be done. Given the constraints of reality, I'm hard-pressed to find any major problems with this summer's work. Now let's see if it translates to the pitch.
Andrew: I am downright giddy. Granted I steeled myself against the idea of a big name, big money player and I've read all of the counterpoints that say our main man Benteke is perhaps a rash purchase and nowhere near a finished product but THOSE are the kinds of signings I want to see. Young players on low-ish wages with great potential. We've talked about it on this blog for ages now: you want to build through the transfer market with big money purchases of high wage earning players? Great. You'd better have a huge bankroll and win in Europe annually.
I'm very, very excited about Ashley Woodward. I didn't know a thing about him coming into work this morning and I've still never seen him play but his list of skills impresses me. Knowing the kinds of clubs that were chasing him as well gives me good reason to believe he's talented.
Finally, someone has come in to restore a sense of responsibility and a long term vision. That's what we want with all our favored teams, isn't it? Sustainable success built from the ground up as opposed to patchwork and band-aids. I believe in Paul Lambert. I just hope he doesn't get half his face burned off and become evil.
Kirsten: Paul Lambert has a system. He showed it worked at Norwich and also proved it was enjoyable to watch. To that end, I think this transfer window could have only been better had Villa found a way to shove Stephen Warnock and Alan Hutton out a back door. Cheers to Lambert's Lions and looking forward to Newcastle...