With the new TV deal kicking in over the summer, clubs are more desperate than ever to preserve their Premier League status. It was therefore no surprise that there was frantic spending from those battling against relegation in the January transfer window. Well, bar one exception, with Aston Villa not bringing in a single player on either a permanent or a loan basis.
Randy Lerner has been cutting the budget for years now, which largely explains why Villa is propping up the table and seemingly destined for the drop. He was never likely to fund the transfers of players on lucrative and lengthy contracts with relegation almost inevitable, so Villa were caught in a catch 22 when it came to trying to strengthen the squad.
Attempts were made to recruit, largely on a loan basis, but nothing materialized. It’s not easy attracting players to what has long appeared to be a lost cause, particularly if they have options available elsewhere, but the fact they didn’t get a solitary new face was, in the words of former Villa star Ray Houghton, “quite remarkable”. It’s a fair assumption that Villa boss Remi Garde probably feels much the same way.
It’s worth recalling that Leicester City were only four points better off than Villa are now at this stage last season (and they still only had 19-points after 29 games), but there’s been an air of resignation about Villa Park for months now.
So what are the chances of Villa following in the footsteps of the Foxes and mounting an heroic escape from the clutches of relegation? Well for those donning claret and blue tinted glasses, bet365 are offering 18/1 on such an unlikely eventuality. You certainly won’t be able to retire on backing them to go down, with William Hill’s 1/33 being the best odds available. The 2/9 on offer with Betway for them to finish bottom of the table holds slightly more appeal.
Even if relegation is largely inevitable, Villa could surely have done more to get at least a couple of new faces through the door, if only to provide a glimmer of hope to the long-suffering supporters and boost morale within the squad. As a bare minimum a couple of players could have been added with a promotion push from the Championship next season in mind.
There was transfer activity at Villa Park in January, but it was all players heading out the door. One such departure saw Philippe Senderos head home to Switzerland. Perhaps he might have a word with Dignitas now he’s home to see if Villa’s season can be put out of its misery.