This is an ongoing blog which will look at each area of Aston Villa’s squad of players that are contracted to the club at the end of the 2016 season. The first post will go through all the Goalkeepers at the club, looking at whether the club should attempt to keep them on, or try to offload them out of the club. After a season of failure, following years of near misses, it is easy to suggest that the entire squad should be ripped up, so the aim is to look objectively at every player.
1 - Brad Guzan
The big American goalkeeper is slowly becoming part of the furniture at Villa Park, having been signed originally by Martin O’Neill. This makes him the second longest serving member of the senior squad, behind Gabriel Agbonlahor, which can be viewed in two very different ways. Having been there for so long he will understand the club, the fans, the expectations and be an old head in the dressing room that doesn’t cause trouble or grab the wrong headlines. However, unfortunately for him he has been the goalkeeper to have taken Villa through year after year of relegation battles and his form took a nosedive that he didn’t seem to quite recover from.
He is still the USA’s first choice keeper and has helped keep us up in many seasons. Under the new management, especially with the new goalkeeper coach coming in, he is worth giving another chance. If the club receive any serious bids I can see him potentially wanting to put the last season behind him with a fresh start, but he doesn’t need to be forced out the club.
31 - Mark Bunn
A strange one in the sense that he hasn’t showered himself in glory during his time at the club, but hasn’t been any worse than Guzan this season and has pulled off a couple of impressive saves. He hasn’t been a regular first choice keeper since 2009 with Sheffield United in the Championship. With his career slowly heading downward, and seemingly only ever signed permanently as a backup keeper, I would prefer it if he was moved on in the summer.
13 - Jed Steer
Jed has been at the club a fair few years now and has never made the step up from third choice keeper, which would initially ring alarm bells and suggest he’s surplus to requirements. However, this season just gone he’s been sent out on loan to Huddersfield and by all accounts has done a good job for them, to the point that they’ve extended his loan twice. A keeper who is young and still developing, Aston Villa could do a lot worse than keep him at the club, even if it was as second choice. Whether he’d want to be second choice is another question though. The chances are he has found his level and if Huddersfield are interested in keeping him permanently, I would let him go.
41 - Bradley Watkins
I know relatively little about this goalkeeper, but what I am aware of is that he has slowly overtaken Benjamin Seigrist in the eyes of the academy staff, who looked a capable goalkeeper himself at one time. I would guess though, at 21 years old, he probably hasn’t progressed to the level that would make him a viable bench keeper. With his contract up at the end of the month, it is unlikely that it will get renewed.
To summarise, I would only be looking to keep hold of Guzan for next season, but even then I wouldn’t say no to a reasonable offer. There are a lot of good goalkeepers in the lower leagues and this is one position we cannot afford to take a risk with. Rumours of Daniel Bentley are very welcome as I think he would be a fantastic option, but there are other keepers, such as David Marshall, who we could launch an ambitious bid for.
I would consider signing:
David Marshall - looked good for Cardiff in the Premier League, plenty of experience
Boaz Myhill - was at West Bromwich under Di Matteo and Clarke, looked solid when called on
Daniel Bentley - My preferred choice, an excellent young keeper for Southend who looks ready to take the next step. Hopefully Aston Villa can convince him to do that with them.
It would make sense to build from the back, so a solid goalkeeping signing early on in the transfer window would be a signal of intent.
Chester hasn't been good but it's true that he hasn't been part of not just a settled centre-back partnership, but a complete back 5 partnership. We have changed goalkeepers, right backs, centre-backs and left backs this season.
The other reason he has been so poor is due to Bruce setting a team up not to lose each week, he set us up to defend when our defence is the weakest aspect of our team.
If Smith can get us playing attacking, possesion based football through the middle; it immediately takes the pressure off the back line and you'll see Chester start to put in some top performances alongside Tuanzebe. A player doesn't go from being one of our best players for two seasons straight into being poor without reasons for it.
There's every doubt that Grealish has been shite this year!
He's been our best player this season - this season - he's been the central figure in just about every game we've played - he's moved the ball around, he's moved defences around, he's drawn more fouls than any other player in the division, he's looked a danger on the ball, he's been bright, inventive and he's worked hard - his ability to transition us from back to front, the weight of his passing, his dribbling ability are unmatched in this division. Has he been at the level he was at in February and March? Not quite - but in February and March he was the best player in the league by a country mile. Does that mean he's shite? Not by a long chalk, I think you can argue that he's still the best player in the division - right now, on his form today.
We're talking about a player dropping from a "10" to a "9" and we're reacting like he's a "4" - it must be difficult at times to play here.
Bruce didn't help him by playing him out if position, however there is no doubt grealish has been shite this year.
He has problems with consistency and I still don't think he is worth the 40m people were harping on. Hopefully smith can get the best out of him.
My only argument was Chester has been shit and not having a settled partner shouldn’t be an excuse for his poor form just because he was so good last season. He should be doing a lot better.
As for Jedinak, I don’t want to see him at centre half. I just don’t think he has been as bad as some people make out.