Villa’s depth at left-back speaks volumes. Neil Taylor, the club’s only senior-figure with experience in the role, has been consistently displaced for others who haven’t played on the left. At times, Aston Villa have preferred almost anyone to start at left-back over Taylor.
True enough, Villa didn’t embark on this particular selection policy until their hand was forced via suspension . Alan Hutton, a right-back, replaced Taylor in October 2017, and they didn’t exactly look back. Even when Taylor was fit or ready for selection, it seemed as though he’d only feature as second-choice, and only when needed. Villa preferred to shoe-horn James Bree and Ahmed Elmohamady into the left-back role over Taylor.
Often-times, this can look unfair. When Taylor seems poor, it’s largely because Villa are poor. When Taylor is being run-over by wingers, he’s not alone as the other wing is usually being run-over as well. It seems like Neil Taylor, above all, shoulders the burden of Villa’s failure. That’s not to say he isn’t liable to mistakes, nor is it to say he’s the best option for the left-back role - it’s just that when things go poorly for Neil, it’s usually that they have went very poorly.
As for the coming season? I’ve no idea what to expect. Taylor is likely to start at left-back at some point, but even if Villa convert to a back-three with wing-backs, it’d seem likely that Andre Green and Albert Adomah would feature ahead of him. For the only left-back in the senior setup, there seems to be plenty of names before his on the depth chart.
Consider Neil unlucky. He’s just another signing that Villa seemingly have no plan for unless they are reacting to a situation. Despite his unfashionable nature, there is plenty worse for Villa than Neil Taylor starting at left-back.