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Aston Villa 2018-19 player preview: Alan Hutton

Is Villa’s long-tenured Scottish fullback a cult hero or a Villa villain?

Middlesbrough v Aston Villa - Sky Bet Championship Play Off Semi Final:First Leg
MIDDLESBROUGH, ENGLAND - MAY 12: Alan Hutton of Aston Villa runs with the ball during the Sky Bet Championship Play Off Semi Final:First Leg match between Middlesbrough and Aston Villa at Riverside Stadium on May 12, 2018 in Middlesbrough, England.
Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

With everything that’s happened over the years at Aston Villa, it’s truly shocking that Alan Hutton is still at the club.

Hutton joined from Tottenham Hotspur in the summer of 2011 and has survived managerial changes, new ownership and a drop in division to remain at Villa Park. He signed for Alex McLeish, but soon became part of Paul Lambert’s bomb squad, most notably spending a half-season on loan at RCD Mallorca. Mallorca couldn’t afford to sign him, though, and in time, Hutton worked his way back into Villa’s team.

Depending on who you ask, though, Hutton may be the most polarizing player at the club. Some see a cult hero, a player who always puts in a shift, a player who came back to Villa despite the uncertainty of the club’s financial situation. Others see a player who’s technically lacking, one that often makes costly mistakes.

We got the full Alan Hutton experience in the span of a couple weeks back in May. For 180 minutes, he kept Middlesbrough’s Adama Traoré in his pocket, with the former Villa winger largely quiet until the dying embers of the tie. But then at the play-off final against Fulham, Hutton was a key part of the defensive error that led to the goal that condemned Villa to another season in the Championship.

The truth, as it so often does, probably lies somewhere in the middle. Hutton has put in a number of quality shifts over the years, his move to left back last season another example. Yet at the same time, he’s probably more in place on a mid-table side than a promotion-chasing one.

It will be interesting to see where Hutton ends up fitting in this season. Ritchie De Laet and Ahmed Elmohamady both have strong cases to start ahead of Hutton at right back, which means the Scotsman is a more likely option at left back ahead of Neil Taylor.