Given provides a glimmer of hope in what could be a rough transitional season

Things have been bleak for Aston Villa fans over the last few months. First came the controversial appointment of Alex McLeish. This was followed by an exodus of their squad with the swift departure of two of their best players-Ashley Young and Stewart Downing- and a distinct lack of movement on the transfer front.

The summer has not proved to be a happy time for Villa fans over the last few years, as it has seen them lose their best players- Gareth Barry, James Milner and now Young and Downing-amid mutterings that they have become a selling club, reluctant to fight for their finest. The above players all publicly stated their wish to leave Villa, which makes you wonder why any ambitious player would want to move to the club, if they continue to lose their best prospects year after year. What must Darren Bent be thinking right now, as the team has disintegrated around him?

This year has also seen them lose experienced heads in Brad Friedel, Nigel Reo-Coker and John Carew, and subsequently the squad is severely lacking in depth. Villa need to stabilise and start over, and this season could be a rough transitional one, that they may just have to weather in their quest to rebuild.

One brief glimmer of hope is the signing of Shay Given. Given is an outstanding goalkeeper, and even at the age of 35, he still has so much to offer. He was monumentally wasted on the bench at Man City, as he is still one of the finest in the league, and will prove a great replacement for stalwart Friedel. Given’s signing could mark the start of a busy week for Villa, as they try to reinvest the money they have received from the big transfers.

They have stepped up their interest in Charles N’Zogbia who would be an ideal replacement for Downing, however Wigan are squabbling over the fee, and the player himself is holding out for more money, which has left the deal stuttering. Scott Parker is another player who has been mentioned, he would also prove a great signing, and at the age of 30, his experience could prove crucial to a team that may have to put its faith in its youth over the coming season.

Whatever his moves in the transfer market it will prove extremely difficult for McLeish to replace the players they have lost, with players of equal quality. They have great young prospects in the likes of Ciaran Clark, Marc Albrighton and Nathan Delfouneso, but it would be a huge ask to rely upon them for the long season ahead. Villa need to spend the money they have received wisely and try to rebuild their squad as well as the fans faith in the team.