As Jack Grealish’s exit from Aston Villa after nineteen years at the club was announced on Thursday, we will be publishing a number of articles from different perspectives as we look at the transfer and its implications on the club moving forward, which we’re playfully calling “The Grealish Papers”.
Before we start, I took on this project because I’ve never been overly protective of Jack Grealish at the club. The story is great, and is one of very few you see in modern football, but it took me until this season to believe that this club was dependent on Grealish. As such, I hope that these articles will come across as more objective than most you’ll see.
Independence through variety
In the very well thought through announcement video from Christian Purslow, explaining the criteria and situation surrounding Jack Grealish, he actually took most of the words from this article while it was still in its planning stage. Yet, it’s still a message that is important to understand and build around.
Particularly in our survival season, but potentially most prominently exposed despite our uptick in talent acquisition last term as our play was decidedly monochromatic in that everything ran through Jack Grealish. It’s something that worked well at the beginning of last season as Jack combined with better talent to combine for plenty of points, however, as teams started getting wise to it, he became much less effective and Villa did as a result too. This isn’t a knock on Jack Grealish, but more on how we set up.
When Grealish got injured, our much needed boost in form plateaued (especially with Matty Cash injured too), and the almost lazy line of being a ‘one-player team’ seemed warranted for a time. On the other hand, Villa did well towards the end of a season to make things work without Grealish.
This will now obviously come in as good experience, but the incoming talent of Leon Bailey, Emi Buendia, and Danny Ings provides both play making and goals at a rate that should, on paper at least, produce more goals and attacking ability than running through Grealish as route one. The unpredictability and variety of options, including different formations in certain situations, will allow us more opportunities to push forward and convert losses into draws, draws into wins, and wins into more emphatic wins.
In the Purslow announcement, he emphasized that while the club thought that the release clause would’ve been too much for anyone to front up, the idea was that they could release Jack as per his wishes and use those funds to get replacements that will improve the team overall as a side. While we may have lost a superstar, we have brought in three attacking players that will have a massive impact without being all-encompassing.
Looking to the future
It’s important that the football club continues its intentions and invests in the squad.
Purslow mentioned that these players have the skill set and capability to ensure that we do not lose any impact on the field, but with rumors out there of further additions joining the cause, a couple of quality additions where many may consider there to still be holes will have transformed the club to a point where the starting eleven are all high impact players, looking to push Aston Villa into European competition.
It’s not Jack leading us, but the project lives on.
Up The Villa!