Just when we were beginning to worry…

…there’s finally been some action on the transfer front. Stewart Downing has officially joined from Middlesbrough for a fee £12million, becoming Martin O’Neill’s first signing of the summer and fuelling the hopes of even the most pessimistic Villa fans that there will be an influx of good quality signings to follow.

In Downing we have a potentially excellent addition to the squad. He is a young, talented winger, capable of scoring goals from midfield and already bearing several caps for England, often picked ahead of Ashley Young by Capello. Along with these two and Milner, Villa are now heavily loaded with pace and creativity, although some might argue that with the large gap in central defence left by Laursen’s retirement, and the close season loss of form to Heskey and Agbonlahor, buying yet another winger should maybe not have been O’Neill’s top priority.

I would agree with this, but I am convinced that there will be more signings to follow, having been heavily linked to players such as Tuncay and Sylvain Distin. Although in my opinion Distin was less than impressive last season, I believe he would still be a shrewd acquisition and would benefit from O’Neill’s ability to motivate players to regain their previous good form when joining the club (which unfortunately still doesn’t seem to have worked on Heskey). Middlesbrough’s Player of the Season, on the other hand, has scored some superb goals even while at a club struggling for Premier League survival - namely the overhead kick against us last season - so who knows the amount of damage he could do playing alongside our creative midfield?

Downing also provides us with plenty of attacking options. Him and Milner on the wing could mean that Young plays in the free role just behind the strikers which has worked so well in the past (I still haven’t forgotten the havoc he caused the Birmingham back line a couple of years back…). Or it could mean that a 4-5-1 formation is used, with someone like Reo-Coker or Sidwell coming in to provide extra cover for the defence along with Petrov. In addition, although I can’t imagine who O’Neill would keep on the bench, it gives him the opportunity, say Young is not having a particularly productive game, to substitute him for Milner or Downing and replace like for like.

Last season wasn’t Downing’s best by any means - he scored no league goals, for one - but I went to the 1-1 draw at the Riverside and was impressed with him; Boro fell apart and seemed to give up the ghost after he went off injured. Ironically it was Petrov’s tackle that means he won’t be able to make his Villa debut for a while yet.

                                                

I only hope there’s no hard feelings between the two..

2 Responses to “Just when we were beginning to worry…”

  1. dave Says:

    Good to see the Villa blog back in action, look forward to reading more. Downing is a good signing towards the new England team O’Neill is building there!

    Actually it is a good time to get him, not such a decent season last time around, something to prove now, just wonder if it means somebody is leaving Villa Park now??

  2. hitzltrov_1219 Says:

    I think perhaps that he will be even more determined to prove his worth after last season.
    Downing is now at a club in Europe, with the potential to qualify for the Champions League if a few more quality signings are made, and who the England manager frequently comes to watch.
    I honestly don’t think he could be at a better place to build on his already impressive career, and once he has recovered from his injury I think he will be itching to get out there and prove what he is capable of.

    Yeah the obvious worry would be Ashley Young leaving, but O’Neill has stated that he has not had any offers and doesn’t intend to sell, which is relieving as losing him would be a tremendous blow to the club.

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