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2010/2011 Premier League Preview: Aston Villa

Manager-less Villa are in a vulnerable position, but still have a strong squad, even if James Milner completes an expected move to Manchester City.

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Villa Park Aston Villa v Everton (2-2) Premier League 14/04/10 More headaches for Martin O'Neill (Aston Villa) Photo Roger Parker Fotosports International Photo via Newscom
Manager:
Position Last Season: 6th
Transfers In: None
Transfers  Out: Andy Marshall, Wilfred Bouma, Marlon Harewood

Under Martin O’Neill, Aston Villa were a consistent side, finishing in the top six for the past three seasons. Without Martin O’Neill, and without funds, the team look to be in a much more vulnerable position.

The team have not hesitated to spend money in the past few years, signing players such as Stewart Downing, Ashley Young and James Milner for substantial fees, but this has been the reason that they have been able to maintain their position in the top half of the table. The main factor in O’Neill’s decision to depart may have been that club owner Randy Lerner has now stated that transfer funds must be cut. This left an ambitious O’Neill feeling that he could not take the club forward, and leaves quite a task for any potential new manager.

The club look set to sell James Milner to Manchester city this week, and may not be able to bring in a replacement, with the next manager almost certain to be told to work with what is already available. Names such as Sven-Goran Eriksson, Martin Jol, Alan Curbishley and Bob Bradley have been mentioned, but will they be willing to take over a club without being able to make the team their own?

If James Milner is to be the club’s only major departure, Aston Villa will still boast a strong squad, and have players such as Fabian Delph and Marc Albrighton ready to step into the England international’s shoes.They will still boast a strong defence, and in Richard Dunne they possess one of the most consistent centre-backs in the league.

With the pace of attacking players such as Ashley Young and Gabriel Agbonlahor, and the experience of the likes of John Carew and Stilyan Petrov, Villa will undoubtedly be a threat to any Premier League side this season. It is just hard to see the team being able to push on and improve on last season’s result without investing in a few more quality players.

Caughtoffside prediction: Without significant squad improvement it is hard to see them moving forward this season, whomever the new manager may be. A top-ten finish is not unrealistic, but a European place may just be too far out of reach.

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