By all accounts, Aston Villa have had a productive summer, and they have followed it up with an encouraging start to the 2014-15 Premier League season. That I can type that sentence is actually pretty stunning, when you think about it. The club was put up for sale in May, and we quickly learned that if nothing happened, Randy Lerner would not be pumping in funds for summer transfers.
This, of course, was not very helpful when it was Paul Lambert's stated goal to pretty much do an about-face on his previous transfer strategies and bring in proven Premier League players. Those are the kinds of players who cost money. The kinds of players you can get with no money (or very little) are the kinds we'd seen Lambert horde and do poorly with before.
And yet he nabbed a few players on free transfers. Suddenly we had Philippe Senderos, Joe Cole, and (the nearly free) Kieran Richardson to add to our squad. Pair them with a defense that was healthier than last seasons, and the return of the bomb squad (who actually looked good in the preseason) and this didn't seem like such a bad team after all. And then, just hours before the season was to begin, Paul Lambert somehow cajoled money out of Randy Lerner and nabbed Aly Cissokho and Carlos Sanchez, the former a talented young player who filled a dire need (while coming at a decent price thanks to a bad year at Liverpool) and the latter an honest-to-goodness star for the team.
Given the circumstances under which he had to work, I think you could make a pretty convincing argument that Paul Lambert actually had the best summer of any manager in the Premier League. Aston Villa have addressed nearly every need they had, and the re-introduction of Christian Benteke and Libor Kozak into the squad in the next month or so will feel as if two more major signings were made.
So with transfer deadline day coming, is there anything left for Aston Villa to do? Well, it all depends on whether or not Lambert has any money left to spend. Even a couple million pounds could bring in another signing along the lines of what we've seen already. And it wouldn't be terrible for the club to bolster themselves in a spot or two.
For instance, Paul Lambert has clearly shown that he wants to use Kieran Richardson in an attacking midfield role. That's fine, but it means that the coverage at left back is back to being thin again. If Aly Cissokho were to injure himself severely, Lambert would either have to shift Richardson back or rely on a number of lesser options. So perhaps another left back could be good.
But that may be too much there. If you look elsewhere on the pitch, a cheap forward who can finish the crosses that are suddenly coming in from the likes of Cissokho and (still weird to type this) Alan Hutton wouldn't be a terrible idea. Sure, they'd be a redundancy once Kozak and Benteke returned, but in the meantime, they could help the club through what looks to be a very tough stretch coming up.
Elsewhere, it's tough to see a lot of need. Maybe another midfielder, but only because it's tough to have too many of them? This may actually be a transfer deadline day where Villa do very little and we're all okay with that. There's very little right now that I'd think Paul Lambert must do.
It's so strange to think that, after one of the weirdest summers most of us can remember as Villa fans, the club may actually be in the best position it's been in for years. Get ready to actually enjoy deadline day. After the past few years, we've earned it.