For the second time in as many seasons, Aston Villa are giving the captain’s armband to a new centre-back recruit. Last year it was Micah Richards, who proved to be pretty poor at both leadership and playing. This year it’s Tommy Elphick, newly signed from AFC Bournemouth, who will be leading the squad into the season.
Elphick looks to figure as a regular starter in the back, likely paired with Richards or perhaps even Jores Okore. His time at Bournemouth saw him captain the Cherries and lead them to two promotions. Roberto Di Matteo seems to be hoping that he can channel that time again and do the same for Villa.
As for playing style, Elphick is a physical player who has already shown in preseason that he’s got the ability to make a dumb mistake or two in him. But he’s also very capable, exceptionally experienced, and highly unlikely to lose his cool or implode entirely.
In short, he’s exactly the sort of player that could work well for Villa. After last year, I’m hesitant to pin my hopes on something like that, but the sort of catastrophic underachievement of last year is a pretty rare thing.