Aston Villa in 2014/15 – Lambert abandons his young gun philosophy

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After finishing 15th in 2012/13 and dicing dangerously with relegation, Paul Lambert defiantly kept faith with younger homegrown stars such as Ashley Westwood, Nathan Baker, Joe Bennett and Ciaran Clark, claiming that such a tough season would, if anything, fast-track their development and galvanise the squad.

24 months on, and very little progress has been made by the club who started last season with the sixth youngest squad by average age. In each of the last two seasons Villa, as well as being placed in 15thin the league, have won ten games in each campaign, finishing with a goal difference of -22. Too reliant on the in-demand Christian Benteke, Lambert failed to get the best out of him after the Belgian powerhouse had attempted to engineer a move away from Villa Park last summer. His injury record didn’t help the team’s cause, and the team scored eight fewer goals than in 2013/13 as Benteke missed 16 games. Brad Guzan, Ron Vlaar and Fabian Delph were the highlights of an otherwise lacklustre campaign, with the latter scoring a cheeky flicked goal against Chelsea in a famous 1-0 win.

Aims for the season ahead

Quite simply, given the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the future of owner Randy Lerner, Aston Villa need to strive for a mid-table finish and not get dragged into a relegation scrap as they have for the last two years. It seems with the budget available to him, Lambert is looking to deviate away from his youth policy and bring in valuable Premier League experience in order to progress the team this season, judging by the acquisitions he has already made so far this summer.

Joe Cole (32 years old), Philippe Senderos (29), Kieron Richardson (29) have all signed, while the club has shown the exit door to Albrighton (24), Delfouneso (23), Sylla (23). Richardson and Senderos will be brought in to shore up a slowly improving defence, while Joe Cole will be expected to help improve Villa’s firepower and create meaningful chance for the likes of Benteke, Libor Kozak and Gabby Agbonlahor.

Key summer signing so far

Joe Cole. Despite the former England international struggling for stability and form over the last few years, Cole has the ability to pick a pass and create problems for defenders. Using the youth and pace of his new teammates, the playmaker might be able to bring control and composure to Villa’s fast counter-attack, which has become their signature under Lambert.

Predicted finish: 17th

Unfortunately, I can’t see Villa making any significant progress this season, and especially not without making some game-changing signings. If Vlaar goes and Benteke gets poached by January, they could be in real trouble.

What do you think Villa fans? Will any of the new signings make a difference? Can the club hold on to its best players? Will either Lambert or Lerner be here come the end of the year? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

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