Speaking exclusively to Football FanCast, ex-Newcastle midfielder Rob Lee has praised Dean Smith’s transfer business this season, describing it as “smart”.
Having survived on the final day of last season by drawing at West Ham, Villa invested heavily in their squad last summer, with sporting director Johan Lange spearheading a spend of more than £70million in a bid to improve the squad.
Perhaps their biggest success story has been Emiliano Martinez, whose kept 14 clean sheets in 28 games in the Premier League this term following his move from Arsenal, leaving him in with a chance of winning the Golden Glove for the first time ever.
Meanwhile, former Brentford man Ollie Watkins has reached double figures in terms of league goals, whilst Matty Cash, Bertrand Traore and on-loan Chelsea midfielder Ross Barkley have all had positive impacts at Villa Park this season to leave Smith’s team in touch with the European places.
Villa’s form has dipped in recent weeks following the injury to Jack Grealish, but Lee believes their fine campaign has been down to their transfer window.
He told Football FanCast: “They were smart signings. They bought players that I think had a good chance of doing well in the Premier League. Matty Cash, did well in the Championship for a long time.
“I think they spent wisely. They paid over the odds for a few players, but are reaping the rewards.
“Ollie Watkins, 30-odd million, but you know he’s strong, quick and will score goals, so let’s take a chance on him. They are players that are very good Championship players that want to prove they can be in the Premier League, or players that have been in the Premier League and we know they’re not going to fail in the Premier League.”
Whilst Villa’s campaign is somewhat petering out, the fact that a midtable finish might now be viewed as a disappointment is the biggest compliment you could pay Smith after last season.