August 4th 2021, was a whirlwind day in the life of an Aston Villa fan. Just after 11 am, fans on their morning break would have received the notification that the Birmingham club had completed the signing of Leon Bailey from Bayer Leverkusen for a reported fee of around £28 million.
With their days work concluded, the dreaded but inevitable news began to filter through around 6 pm; that local boy and the club icon Jack Grealish would be undergoing a medical with Manchester City the following day ahead of the Englishman’s record-breaking £100 million transfer.
40 minutes later, to the surprise of everyone, Danny Ings had signed for the Villan’s from fellow Premier League side Southampton for a fee in the region of £31 million. This prompted an immediate reaction from fans and pundits online with statements similar to “Aston Villa are going to have a great season” popping up left, right, and centre.
Additions to Aston Villa’s attack this summer 💸:
▪ Danny Ings
▪ Emiliano Buendia
▪ Leon Bailey pic.twitter.com/RPIk0RGyYl
— B/R Football (@brfootball) August 4, 2021
Is this a surprise? No. Football fans tend to have short memories and become fixated on the number that follows the currency sign regarding a club’s summer expenditures and its effect on the season that follows.
Recent history has shown that spending huge amounts of cash and bringing in lots of bodies at once, does not correlate with a good season. In fact, it tends to have an adverse effect on the team due to factors such as a formation change, team chemistry, and a settling in period for the new arrivals.
Saturday was a poor day at the office for Dean Smith’s men as Aston Villa were convincingly beaten 3-2 by newly-promoted Watford, despite the scoreline. This could be a sign of things to come for the Birmingham based club, as history is not on their side.
Tottenham Hotspurs’ 13/14 Season: Life after Gareth Bale
Of the back of an impressive 12/13 season, Spanish giant’s Real Madrid came knocking for Tottenham Hotspur’s Gareth Bale. After a lengthy transfer saga, Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy finally accepted a fee in the region of £85 million for the Welsh international, leaving Spurs with plenty of cash but short a star man.
The ‘Magnificent Seven’ were tasked with filling this Gareth Bale shaped hole in Andres Villas-Boas’s 13/14 Tottenham Hotspur squad. These were Christian Eriksen, Paulinho, Nacer Chadli, Roberto Soldado, Etienne Capoue, Vlad Chiriches, and Erik Lamela – all seven costing Spurs a total of £110.2 million.
“Spurs have sold Elvis and bought the Beatles” stated Former Tottenham forward Garth Crooks before a ball was kicked that season, but it must have been a tribute band that the Spur’s fans received.
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) September 13, 2013
Tottenham finished sixth in the league, got knocked out in the third round of the FA Cup and fifth round of the League Cup, whilst also failing to make it past the last 16 in the Europa League.
Villas-Boas was sacked before Christmas after winning just 8 of the opening 16 games and was replaced by Tim Sherwood. It was a disaster of a season due to the team’s lack of fluidity and cohesion, which can be summed up by highlighting both North London derby defeats and the embarrassing score lines against Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea.
Eriksen proved to be the only player out of the seven to write home about, the only thing about the entire season to be frank.
Everton’s 17/18 Season: Replacing Romelu Lukaku
The summer of 2017 saw Manchester United sign Romelu Lukaku from North-West rivals Everton for a fee in the region of £76 million. The Belgian striker enjoyed an impressive spell at the Toffees scoring 68 top-flight goals in 141 games for the Merseyside club, 25 of which came the season prior to his move.
This evidently is a lot of goals that need replacing and Everton decided to go big in trying to make the squad a competitive one.
The Toffees’ recruited Gylfi Sigurdsson, Jordan Pickford, Michael Keane, Davy Klaassen, Cenk Tosun, Theo Walcott, Nikola Vlasic, Henry Onyekuru, and Sandro Ramirez; all for a whopping total of £182.6 million – the club also recruited Wayne Rooney and Eliaquim Mangala through free transfers.
This was a staggering sum of money and the number of players signed was a big statement to be sending out to the rest of the league.
The season, however, was a disaster. For a club that has ambitions to play in the Champions League, they finished 8th at the end of the campaign. Everton exited the FA Cup at the third round stage and the League Cup in the fourth round, whilst also failing to make it past the group stages in the Europa League.
Just like in Tottenham’s case, manager Ronald Koeman was sacked in October and was eventually replaced by Sam Allardyce until the end of the season, after a brief spell in charge for David Unsworth.
— Everton (@Everton) November 30, 2017
This Everton team was unbalanced, lacked chemistry, were painfully slow to watch, and lacked goals; evident in Rooney finishing as top scorer with only 11 strikes in all competitions. The club even spent time in the relegation zone, proving that signing a large number of players for big money, does not directly translate to good results on the pitch.
This is the ground Aston Villa are walking on at present, as they try to achieve the same goals both teams above did. Villa have signed five players so far this window for a sum of £94.1 million and with the Jack Grealish money becoming available, it is hard to see them stopping there, with plenty of talent still being linked to the club.
Saturday’s performance was not up to the standard Dean Smith’s side set last season and, worryingly, the cases above provide enough evidence to show that it could be a sign of things to come.