Aston Villa living within their means

For many Aston Villa fans, the club’s dealings during the summer transfer window have been a source of frustration and disappointment.

For many Aston Villa fans, the club’s dealings during the summer transfer window have been a source of frustration and disappointment.

But, under the circumstances, manager Alex McLeish has worked admirably.

After the lavish spending of Gerard Houllier and Martin O’Neill, which saw inflated transfer fees and excessive wages aplenty, prudence has become the watchword at Villa and McLeish has been forced to cut his cloth accordingly.

There have been no jaw-dropping signings to match the £24m record signing of Darren Bent in January but, at the same time, no unnecessary arrivals like Habib Beye to clog up the wage bill.

Four of McLeish’s five signings are players that will be expected to become first-team regulars, with the minimum of fuss. No settling in period, just straight down to the hard work.

Goalkeeper Shay Given has been brought in after Brad Friedel left on a free transfer and already looks to be one of the bargains of the summer at £3.5million.

The Republic of Ireland international has brought a calm presence to the Villa defence, which has helped to yield two clean sheets from the first three games of the season.

McLeish knows all about Alan Hutton having worked with him at Glasgow Rangers and Scotland and his arrival for £3million represents a slight improvement on dependable right-back Luke Young, who wished to be nearer to his family in London.

Enda Stevens was the other major defensive signing during the window and he is firmly in the ‘one for the future’ category and will join Villa in January.

The decision to allow Jean Makoun to join Olympiakos on loan seems a strange one, given the Cameroon midfielder is one of the best passers of the ball at the club.

Makoun’s absence has been offset by the arrival of Jermaine Jenas on loan, with the midfielder having become a bit-part figure at Tottenham.

McLeish was desperate to bring in some central midfield creativity to supplement Charles N’Zogbia’s move from Wigan and, although Jenas was perhaps not his first choice, he could well turn out be an astute acquisition.

The Villa boss has wheeled and dealed well with the resources at his disposal.

Hopefully, the results on the pitch will follow.

By Timothy Abraham