Come the end of the season we find ourself taking a step back and reviewing the events of the past footballing year for the team we support. For Aston Villa fans, this means taking the summer off - enjoying the FA Cup, Champions League and the summer before returning to a focus on all things Villa as Steve Bruce’s lads return for a new season. With the opinions of Villa’s below-average season cooling off, now seems an apt time to evaluate Villa’s squad and their performance this year. They will be rated fairly out of 10 (meaning 5 is bang average and not an insult).
So, shall we get into it? We’ll start with the Goalkeepers.
Gollini didn’t enjoy the greatest stint in claret and blue after joining Aston Villa just over a year ago. After a number of communication woes between him and Tommy Elphick cost Villa a number of points early on in Villa’s season, it seemed like the former Manchester United trainee had got his sea legs underneath him. However, Roberto Di Matteo lost his job around this time - leading to a breach in contract for Gollini, who had agreed with Villa that he would join the team thanks to Di Matteo’s choice of goalkeeping staff. This fell apart when Di Matteo was sacked and Gollini was loaned to Atalanta, who might just buy him from Villa.
Gollini became a fairly steady pair of hands for Villa, but didn’t make any kind of lasting impact. The only memories of Gollini will be a pair of unfortunate blunders.
Games: 23 (3 Atalanta)
Clean sheets: 8 (2 Atalanta)
Sam Johnstone joined Aston Villa on a season-long loan from Manchester United in January just days before Pierluigi Gollini packed his bags for Atalanta. If Gollini enjoyed a bad start, Johnstone endured an absolutely horrendous one. Johnstone’s first spell of games at Aston Villa were dire - with him being at the centre of defensive confusion as Villa collapsed in each and every game, highlighted by a horrific Valentines Day beating by Barnsley. Many fans clamoured for a start for Mark Bunn - or even the return of Gollini. Johnstone endured the heavy criticism of Aston Villa fans, and even some sarcastic cheers as he completed simple passes, or caught safe balls.
Things changed when Johnstone helped steward the defense to a tight victory over Derby and helped secure victories with key saves. Johnstone’s distribution wasn’t poor either, and he started to look extremely comfortable between the sticks and was a huge reason behind Villa’s winning streak through the spring.
Clean sheets: 8
Aston Villa’s backup goalkeeper enjoyed a spell of games for Villa this season, but did not enjoy much success and by January was out of the picture at Villa as Sam Johnstone claimed the number one spot. Mark Bunn was brought in after Gollini made a number of errors and replaced the Italian in goal once Steve Bruce joined Aston Villa. His performances in general were lacklustre, and through six games could only record one shutout - away at QPR. That being said, Bunn came up with some big saves, most notably in the dying seconds of the Boxing Day clash with Burton Albion, where he spared Villa’s blushes.
Clean sheets: 1