Last summer Fulham brought 12 new players through the door of Craven Cottage.
Their spending, on the face of it, appeared to be a sign of intent. This was a newly promoted team who looked ready to take the Premier League by storm alongside Wolves.
However, they couldn’t have experienced more contrasting seasons. One was relegated whilst the other became one of the best promoted sides we’ve seen.
Nuno Santo’s men took to the Premier League like a duck to water, taking 16 points off the sides in the top six as they qualified for Europe.
But with Aston Villa now returning to the top-flight, they could go one of two ways. They could either come crashing back down to earth and end up in the Championship again, or they may well end up establishing themselves.
Only time will tell what happens but in Dean Smith, a manager who likes to develop players, they have every chance of staying up.
At the heart of their business this summer is Christian Purslow, a man who has been keen to establish some form of excitement in the team after declaring they wanted to add young players. Indeed, with the arrivals of individuals like Wesley and Matt Targett, they’ve done that.
But alongside him every step of the way, have been Jesus Garcia Pitarch and Smith.
They’ve worked tirelessly this summer, adding eight fresh faces to their squad in preparation for the new campaign. It doesn’t look like they’re done there either with Douglas Luiz another name being touted, alongside wingers Trezeguet and Said Benrahma.
It’s easy to see why comparisons have been drawn, therefore.
— Alex (@bob12332101) July 16, 2019
— Matt (@ms2965) July 16, 2019
Aston Villa over spending on not a great deal of Premier League quality. Could be this seasons Fulham in my opinion ?
— ️FPL Fox (@_FPLFox) July 12, 2019
Doing a Fulham
— ben harris (@_benharris96) July 16, 2019
But this is an unfair and completely unwarranted tag that Villa are being labelled with.
They are not like Fulham at all, and here’s why.
Last summer, Fulham invested and handed loans to countless players who had never played in the Premier League. In came Sergio Rico and Luciano Vietto on loan whilst Fabri and Maxime Le Marchand were also welcomed.
None of them were proven at the top level but here Fulham were, stood with an armoury of new players who had little time to settle in.
By the middle of July, only Le Marchand and Seri had arrived. The final week of that month and a period in August was a frenzy with Aleksandar Mitrovic, Alfie Mawson and Joe Bryan all coming in alongside Anguissa on permanent terms.
As for temporary deals, they had three players who arrived just days before the season commenced.
On that evidence, is it any real surprise that it took Fulham so long to adapt and adjust? Arguably not. Likewise, when you sign players on loan and survival is the priority, you always have to question whether they’re really committed enough for a relegation battle. Some of Fulham’s loan acquisitions clearly weren’t.
Villa, on the other hand, have already signed eight new faces by mid-July.
They’ve landed players with experience in the top-flight, as well as adding young footballers they can develop further.
But key to what the Villans have done in 2019 is that they’ve kept the spine of their team together.
They’ve brought back people they had on loan by bringing in Tyrone Mings, Kortney Hause and Anwar El Ghazi, three crucial members of their promotion-winning campaign.
Purslow, alongside Pitarch and Smith, has done a fantastic job so far. They’ve been aggressive in the transfer window and most of their deals seem to have been done swimmingly.
At the end of last season, Villa fans took great comfort in the fact Fulham were relegated, so it’s rather ironic that they’re now being compared to the Cottagers.
Yet, the Midlands outfit have been clever.
They haven’t stalled and waited for the summer to drag on, they’ve got players in and they’re already adjusting to Smith’s playing methods.
If you consider that key factor, Villa will be far better prepared for life in the Premier League than recently relegated Fulham ever were.
On this occasion, Villa’s spending isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Comparisons that have been made in recent weeks are wide of the mark and assuming Villa’s shrewd recruitment pays off in terms of survival, Purslow and Smith will have the last laugh.