With Aston Villa's pending visit to the Theatre of Dreams, it was time for a Q&A with Aaron from SB Nation's Villa blog, 7500 to Holte. As per custom, I've allowed the community to ask the questions. The flip side of the the Q&A should be up on their site sometime tonight.
Where does the recent loanee Michael Bradley fit into Villa's midfield? Do you expect him to get regular time with the quality depth Villa has?
He'll be a rotational player at most I think, at least this year. He's a good prospect and I think that if the move becomes permanent he could slide in alongside Jean Makoun in a more box-to-box role, but between Petrov, Reo-Coker, Bannan and Delph there's just not a ton of room right now. A lot of people seem to think he's coming in to be a key player right away, but I'd be absolutely shocked to see that happen.
I can't speak for anyone else, but when he was hired I thought he was the best choice of those available. When Villa went through that stretch where everything fell apart, I still felt that he was the best choice of everyone available. Martin O'Neill built the squad in his own image and the young players were trained to play a very traditionally English style. There was never any way a transition to a more Continental style was going to be a smooth transition, and coupled with a rash of key injuries and some unrest in the squad, it got ugly. But it was absolutely the right direction for the club to move towards, and as the players get a feel for what Houllier wants the results have improved. I think he's a short-term solution, but I think he can get Villa to where they need to be in order to make a leap towards not only qualifying for but actually competing in European competition.
Darren Bent is not a complete forward. He does one thing, and that's score goals. He doesn't create, he doesn't hold up play all that well and he's not a threat as a free kick taker. But Villa had all of those things. They didn't have anyone that was capable of finishing, and Bent absolutely is. The transfer fee was likely an overpay, but not absurdly so (especially given what we've seen towards the end of the window) and he filled an absolutely massive need. He's a big addition and I'm thrilled to have him here.
Given the circumstances surrounding the club after O'Neill left and the fact that a relegation battle seemed like a very real possibility just two weeks ago? Absolutely.
Realistically I don't see any way this club is in any real danger of going down, not given their remaining schedule and the additions they've made. I'd say 15th or so is easily possible as a floor, especially given how tight the middle of the table is. As far as a ceiling, though it's a long shot I think that a push for the top seven and the possibility of European competition isn't out of the question. But in all likelihood, the top ten seems like as high as they'll go.
Spanish Villa. Without hesitation.