Aston Villa fans face a worrying summer period as they prepare to fend off bids for their two star performers from some of the country’s top sides. Ashley Young and Stewart Downing have been the driving force behind Aston Villa’s season and they are two players the club would love to retain over the summer. However, both players have been reluctant to commit themselves to the club and they are both very much aware of the interest they have generated. Furthermore, a transfer to a club playing Champions League football would more than likely be a tempting prospect for both players.
Losing Martin O’Neill at the start of the season was a blow to Villa as he was starting to lay the foundations at the club to push on and improve on two consecutive top six finishes. However, there was clearly a difference in opinion with O’Neill and owner Randy Lerner over transfer fees, the sale of players and the clubs ambition. Since O’Neill left, it’s clear to see the club have taken a downward spiral and there is a strong possibility that the trend may continue if they lose Young and Downing. With the managerial position at the club in limbo due to Gerard Houllier’s health problems and star players potentially heading for the exit door, are Villa becoming a feeder club?
There are suggestions that by selling Young and Downing Villa would become a feeder club, as they have also lost Gareth Barry and James Milner in recent years. I personally don’t think Villa are becoming a feeder club, they made a considerable amount of money from Barry and Milner and used it wisely to bring in a top striker in Darren Bent; a feeder club wouldn’t be splashing out £24 million on a player. Villa also have quality young players in Fabian Delph and Marc Albrighton and with the considerable income they would receive from sales of Downing and Young they can look to strengthen. I get the impression a lot of Villa fans are starting to lean towards the opinion that cashing in on Ashley Young could be a good thing. As good a player as he is, I sense he craves a move to a bigger club and he has lost the desire to play for Villa, therefore it’s sometimes best to let an unsettled player leave.
The main reason I don’t think Villa are becoming a feeder club is because regardless of the fact they have lost some of their big names in the past they haven’t purchased them with the sole intention to sign them and then sell them on to make a profit. In the cases of Barry and Milner it was down to the players wanting to move on and it looks likely to be a similar situation with Young and Downing, it’s something you have to accept when you’re not a top four side. If Villa want to dispel any suggestions they are becoming a feeder club they need to get back to where they were under O’Neill next season and to be challenging in the Cup competitions and qualifying for European football to keep there top players happy.