At the beginning of last season, there were plenty of Villa fans (myself included) who would have been happy to see Ciaran Clark never given another match in the claret and blue again. Flash forward to yesterday, and most Villa fans would tell you that Clark is the club's best centre back and desperately in need of a new contract. Well, good news! The turnaround is complete, and Clark has gone from afterthought to having a new five-year deal in place that will keep him at Villa Park through the 2019-2020 season.
After injuries plagued Villa's back line last season, Clark was given a chance to start and almost instantly became the club's best defender. Gone were the silly mistakes that had marked his appearances in previous season, replaced by confident play in the center and leadership that seemed to come from a much older player.
Locking Clark up now removes the worry of a "will he or won't he" season in which we wait to see if Villa will lose him for nothing next summer. After watching what happened with Fabian Delph this summer, I don't think we need a reminder of why that's important.
Now let's look at giving him the captain's band, eh?