Let's get one thing straight immediately: I don't think Rio Ferdinand is a bad player. He could have, in fact, helped Aston Villa. But thank heavens the club didn't follow through on their ambition to sign him.
In a flurry of reports today, we saw everything that gives silly season its name. First we had rumours that Ferdinand had rejected Villa. Then came the reports that Villa had never offered Ferdinand anything at all. And finally we get to the truth: the club put in a tentative inquiry about the ex-Manchester United defender, but demurred very quickly when it became apparent that he was still seeking very high wages.
And that was absolutely the right move. He's coming off of reported £100,000 per week cheques at United, and even though it seems likely that he'll take a pay cut, it would have never been to a level that Aston Villa could afford. Paul Lambert has to work within means this summer, and even £50,000 per week would have been too much. Given Ferdinand's pedigree, that would have likely been too low already.
So it seems that Aston Villa poked their head over the cliff just to see what the view was like, and quickly stepped back. Once that avenue of adding to the defense was blocked, they settled on Philippe Senderos. Maybe it's not as flashy, but it's absolutely a better decision.