At the end of every transfer window there are always those who feel that their club didn't do enough. This time round, among the more justified to voice such complaints were Aston Villa fans - along with their manager Remi Garde - who feel that those running the club have given up hope of staying in the Premier League by making no attempt to strengthen the side rooted at the bottom of the league.
That of Aston Villa is a complex story with the club having been put up for sale almost two years ago after owner Randy Lerner realised that his ambition of running the club 'sensibly' wasn't going to work. Since then Villa has been a club with a vacuum of leadership and if relegation does come at the end of the season it won't be a surprise to anyone.
The truly sad part is that with a bit more foresight Villa would be in a much better position. As with many other clubs they have identified the signing of players as the solution to their problems but, rather than go for quality they've far too often opted for quantity in the hope of striking it lucky. In doing so they've almost completely disregarded the talent coming through their academy.
Three years ago Villa won the Next Gen Cup, a pan European competition for the continent's elite Under 20 sides. It was an impressive result given the quality of opposition and one that highlighted the potential within their ranks. Yet the only one of that side to make anything of an impact was Jack Grealish who was vital in their run to the FA Cup final last season but who has – for a variety of reasons – has failed to build on that this season round.
The rest are still waiting for an opportunity if they are still at Villa at all.
Their path to the first team is blocked by players brought in from elsewhere and who keep on playing despite not showing much in term of quality or character. Players who are unlikely to stick around if Villa do get relegated.
It could be that those young players failed to develop enough to justify a spot in the side. It could also be that, given the difficulties faced this season, there was the risk of burning them out If they were put in such a situation.
Both are good enough reasons for going with more experienced players yet, given the scarce results that they have achieved with the current policy of trying to find value elsewhere, it is mystifying why Villa don’t simply focus on a long term plan to bring through young players and, if they are to spend money, then it is on quality reinforcements rather than the quantity policy which they currently have in place.
Villa are far from the only side who should adopt such a policy. Norwich are another club with a promising youth system yet who don’t seem to be doing much to bring their young players through. Similarly Sunderland, another club that routinely spends a lot of money on players who fail to deliver.
What will it take for these clubs to realise that their current policy isn’t working and opt instead for a new way?
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