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[FM20] Aston Villa, what does £150m buy you these days?

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As a lifelong Villa fan, it has been devastating watching the club rapidly decline since Martin O’Neill walked out of the door five days before the start of the 2010-2011 season. Three successive 6th place finishes (2007-2008, 2008-2009 & 2009-2010) gave way to a 9th place finish that season and things only got worse with finishes of 16th (2011-2012), 15th (2012-2013), 15th (2013-2014) and 17th (2014-2015).

In 2015-2016 the inevitable sadly became reality as we finished bottom of the Premier League and dropped into the 2nd tier of English football for the first time since the 1987-1988 season. Our first season in the Championship showed why it is probably the most difficult league to gain promotion from, with a very disappointing 13th place finish. The following season (2017-2018) held plenty of promise, finishing in 4th place, before a heart-breaking 1-0 defeat to Fulham in the play-off final.

The 2018-2019 season was make or break with the Premier League parachute payments set to end. Failure to gain promotion at the third time of asking would almost certainly result in the sale of Villas’ best players, including our home-grown jewel in the crown “Jack Grealish”. Things weren’t looking great after just 3 wins in the first 12 games and Steve Bruce was relieved of his managerial duties (he did however receive a cabbage from a grateful fan prior to leaving :lol:). Dean Smith was brought in from Brentford and his first 22 games in charge yielded an uninspiring 7 wins, 9 draws and 6 defeats.

Things again looked very bleak at the end of February with the club sat in mid table and completely out of the play-off race, before a 4-0 win over Derby County at Villa Park kickstarted a remarkable run of 10 consecutive victories. With the teams above all beating each other the door was left slightly ajar and allowed Villa to slip into 5th place out of nowhere. A tense play-off semi-final culminated in a penalty shoot-out win over fierce rivals West Brom, before the holy grail of Premier League football was secured with an even more tense 2-1 victory over Derby County in the final at Wembley.

An unbelievable summer was then to unfold with over £150m worth of players brought in to replace numerous aging players whose contracts were expiring. The new owners were not only flexing their financial muscle but also giving a not so subtle indication of their future ambitions for the club.

Taking over what is an almost entirely new squad should prove an interesting challenge, with the following goals a must over the next few seasons;

1 – Re-establish the club in the Premier League

2 – Develop and keep hold of Jack Grealish and John McGinn

3 – Increase the clubs’ reputation in the footballing world

4 – Compete in European competitions again

5 – Win the Premier League?

Edited by Spike

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Following the unexpected departure of Dean Smith, the Aston Villa owners have finally appointed a new manager on the eve of their return to the Premier League. The quality of the appointment has been welcomed by the fans.

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During the interview the club set out their five year plan, which the new manager was happy to work towards and appeared confident of achieving if not exceeding.

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Having already spent over £150m in the summer prior to Dean Smiths' departure, the new manager has only been afforded £10m in transfer funds but has been told he can reinvest any income from player sales. What will he do?

Edited by Spike

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SEASON 2019/2020 TRANSFERS

Having undertaken a thorough review of the playing staff the new manager decided the biggest area of weakness was up front, with Wesley as the only striker even close to Premier League quality.

The main target was to be Odsonne Edouard from Celtic and in a major coup Aston Villa beat some quality European teams to his signature, with only a small fee being paid upfront and the balance over 3 years (totalling £20m). The hope was he would form a partnership with Wesley that would bully opposition defences.

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Youngsters Rhian Brewster (loan) and Jonathan Burkardt (up to £8.5m) were brought in as backups.

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The only other player brought in was Rafa Soares (£2.8m) to replace the ageing Neil Taylor.

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A few players were sold to balance the books.

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With the club performing above expectations at the mid-way point of the season an additional transfer budget of £35m was given to maintain the push for European football. Mohammed Daramy was highly recommended by the scouting team as a must buy and was snapped up from under the noses of literally every one of Europes' elite clubs.

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In addition to this Aston Villa took full advantage of Bournemouths' fire sale of young English talent and also brought in a back-up keeper with injuries to both Heaton & Steer.

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Edited by Spike

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2019/2020 Season Review

 

Pre-season

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As I always do, I left the arrangement of friendlies to my Assistant Manager, which resulted in an extremely easy pre-season (with the exception of one loss, which came despite completely dominating the game). The main thing was that everyone got plenty of football and therefore match fitness.

August 2019

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I was hoping for an easy first game back in the Premier League, but then the fixtures were announced. We were given a difficult game first up at home to Chelsea, but then came three games that could all be targeted for points. After a fantastic (and well deserved) 2-0 win over Chelsea boosted confidence, two further wins and a draw followed to leave us joint top at the end of August. The only blip was an early exit from the Carabao Cup, where a much-weakened team lost to Cardiff.

September 2019

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Due to the international break only three fixtures were played in September, with some startling results (none more so than the 7-4 victory at Goodison Park). 13 goals in the three games resulted in three more wins and top spot in the league.

October 2019

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October was another great month, with only three fixtures played again due to International commitments. A very creditable draw at home to Manchester City and wins away at Leicester and Sheffield United saw us retain top spot and our unbeaten record (8 wins and 2 draws).

November 2019

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After beginning the month with a win at home to Crystal Palace an extremely tough run followed, defeats to Arsenal and Manchester United were followed up by a draw with Spurs. This saw us drop to fourth place in a very congested top end of the table.

December 2019

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After such a tough November, December gave us a favourable run of fixtures which resulted in a 10-point return from a possible 15. This saw us jump back into second place behind Liverpool, who were starting to pull away from the chasing pack.

January 2020

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With January came the FA Cup Third round and subsequently the first real need for rotation of the squad. We scraped through after extra time in the replay, before suffering defeat to Norwich in the Fourth Round. Three wins and two defeats in the league saw us drop back into fourth, still clinging to a Champions League place.

February 2020

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After a stunning 5-1 win over Chelsea we were on a high but were quickly brought back down to earth with a 4-2 home defeat by run-away leaders Liverpool. 4 points from the other two games provided a solid return and kept us in a Champions League spot.

March 2020

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An unbelievably quiet month saw us pick up 4-1 victories in our only two games and moved us up to third place. This put us some way clear of fifth place and a Champions League spot was unbelievably looking likely.

April 2020

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Another very tough month resulted in only 7 points from a possible 15 and dropped us back into 4th place with the chasing pack closing the gap. After the defeat by Spurs, a game we dominated from start to finish, they were now only 4 points behind with a game in hand. By the end of the month they had taken advantage of the game in hand and gone above us by a single point with three games remaining.

May 2020

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May was going to be very much “squeaky bum time”, but with three very winnable games things looked promising, and the pressure now switched to Spurs to retain their Champions League place. A nervy 2-1 win over Watford, coupled with Spurs draw at Old Trafford, put us a point above them and back in control of our own destiny in the race for the top four. Draws for both of us in the penultimate round of games meant the battle was going into the final game(s) of the season with only a single point difference, but with Spurs crucially having a considerably better goal difference.

In the final game of the season Wolves scored with their first three shots of the game to lead 3-0 after 15 minutes. Despite our best efforts, and completely dominating the game, no more goals were scored and it looked like a heart-breaking end to the season. Total devastation quickly turned to elation with the news that Spurs had lost 2-1 at West Ham, both West Ham goals (including an 83rd minute winner) scored by Robert Snodgrass who had been on loan at Villa in the 2017/2018 season and become a huge fan favourite.

Less than a year after being promoted from the Championship Villa had remarkably qualified for the Champions League and the financial windfall that comes with it.

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The squad performed brilliantly, with Wesley and Edouard both breaking the 20 goal barrier and Trezeguet weighing in with 8 goals and 12 assists in his debut season. My best signing was without doubt Rafa Soares who scored 2 goals and assisted 12 times from the wing-back position, having cost a bargain £2.8m. 

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Stay tuned for updates on the new season and thanks for reading!

Edited by Spike

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What tactic did you use for this its the only thing missing

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Hats off to you mate. As a life long Villa fan myself, I feel the pain and heart ache you've endured. I've tried what must be 6 Villa saves and struggle on every one. Was going to give it another go when the transfer patch hits and I have some spare time on my hands. 

 

I look forward to seeing what you do in the summer transfer window and how you progress in season 2. 

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