My Championship Wish List

After a miserable season, Aston Villa are officially relegated and despite the initial shock I have accepted the fact that next season I will be watching Championship football.

However, with a squad only able to gain 16 points to date, Villa will need a make over if they are to survive one of the toughest leagues in the world.

I have come up with my Championship wish list that I believe will enable us to at least put up a fight in what is going to be a difficult season.

A New Goalkeeper?

I don't think it's just Brad Guzan that is waiting for this season to end. The American keeper has had a season to forget, despite being one of Villa's vital assets for the last three seasons since he was resigned by Paul Lambert. However, this year his performances have been the epitome of disappointment, reflecting Aston Villa's landslide into the Championship.

Following Guzan's struggle, it would be silly of Villa to not be in the market for a new goalkeeper. But, there could be an internal solution. Mark Bunn has already played for the Villans this season, when he replaced Brad Guzan between the sticks after a run of mistakes. The Englishman stepped up to the plate with solid performances, barring the Liverpool game, with the keeper on the winning team in the only two wins at Villa Park this season.

Young goalkeeper Jed Steer could also be the answer following his loan spell at Huddersfield this season. Steer has been a regular in the squad and now has a good understanding of the Championship which could stand Villa in good stead.

I wouldn't be surprised however, if the new manager was to bring in a new goalkeeper.

Utilising the Youth:

As Aston Villa's Under-21s make the division's play-off final, the first team limp to the season's end. The comparisons are endless, with the club's younger players showing a lot more pride and passion than their senior counterparts.

Players like Jordan Lyden, Andre Green and Kevin Toner have all proved so far this season that they are capable of stepping up to the plate.

Grealish celebrating Villa's third round win over local rivals
Birmingham City in this year's League Cup.
With quick feet, the ability to take on players and a creative spark in attack, Jack Grealish could be vital to Aston Villa's first season in the Championship, which they will hope will also be their last. Unfortunately for Villa, Grealish who has been troubled with injuries and tied up in off the pitch matters, has not been able to shine for his boyhood club.

Following the FA Cup semi-final against Liverpool last season, where Jack Grealish stole the show, Tim Sherwood said that "the bigger the stage, the better he plays." By that basis, we can only hope that next season a new manager can come in and help the 20-year-old thrive in the number 10 role.

He has claret and blue coursing through his veins, and he bleeds the colour on the pitch. If he puts as much effort into getting Villa back into the Premier League as he does into supporting them, both parties could reap the rewards.

The Return of Gary Gardner?

If Aston Villa are still to have Randy Lerner at the helm over the summer - we are all praying that the American is long gone by then - and there is no money to spend, the return of Gary Gardner could be a blessing.

The 23-year-old has spent the current season on loan to Nottingham Forest, impressing in the centre of midfield for the Championship outfit.

Gardner provides a ready-made upgrade on the woeful midfielders we have currently got in the squad and Randy Lerner will not need to spend a penny.

I Wish For a Solid Defence:

It's not too much to ask for is it?

Villa currently, at the time of writing, sit on a goal difference of -44 after conceding way too many goals this term.

Following the arrival of Micah Richards and Joleon Lescott, I genuinely thought Villa's defence had a chance of keeping a couple of clean sheets here and there. How wrong was I? I didn't think it was too much to expect from two incredibly experienced Premier League defenders. I guess I expected too much.

Nathan Baker could be an ideal replacement for one of them, as he returns from a loan spell at Bristol City. Even if his footballing ability has been questioned in the past, after a season of regular first team football in England's second tier, he could return to the club with a wiser, more composed head on his shoulders.

Alongside Ciaran Clark, Baker could provide the solid backline we have been wishing for all year.

Jordan Amavi winning the ball from James McClean during
Villa's match against West Brom at the start of the season.
If, and it's a big if, we can keep Jordan Amavi, we may just have the best left back in the Championship. Of course, I am only basing this on a handful of games at the start of the season, pre-injury, and following a mistake that equalled defeat at Crystal Palace. But on this basis, the Frenchman will be an improvement on our current defenders at the club. Joe Bennett is also to return and could be perfect for the claret and blues if Amavi was to seek greener grass.

The right back position will need review, however I wouldn't be disappointed if we started next season with Alan Hutton still first choice full back. Despite his limited ability, he makes up for the rest in heart and desire, which cannot be questioned.

Lewis Cook:

You might be thinking who is this player you're talking about? Well, Lewis Cook recently took home the Football League’s Young Player of the Year award and looks like the next big thing in English football.

Lewis Cook in action for Leeds United.
Over the last 18 months, the young man from Yorkshire has burst onto the Championship with Leeds United, quickly becoming the first name on the team sheet for the Lilywhites. During the last year and a half he has been selected England's Under-19 squad, drawn attention from Premier League teams like Bournemouth and shown off talents that defy what your typical 19-year-old is capable of.
Cook capped his incredible rise to football prominence by being awarded the Football League's Young Player of the Year, which has been previously won by Dele Alli, Gareth Bale and Fabian Delph who all went on to become big names in the Premier League.

The talented central midfielder has been the big fish in a little pond at Leeds following the departure of Ross McCormack last summer. He has been labelled as the rare type of player who is equipped to be your sought after box to box midfielder. He is skilled enough to be the playmaker who provides the drive and creativity in the middle of the park, but also physically prepared to win the ball back with hearty challenges. Cook is most dangerous when in the defensive midfielder role as he is always looking to launch a counter-attack after sustaining opposition pressure.
If there was two words to describe Cook this season, it would have to be grace and composure. Cook’s confidence on the ball is overwhelming, especially for a man of his age, and while despite not possessing scintillating pace or a nose for 20 goals a season yet, he is constantly dribbling around the field and shedding defenders.
If Aston Villa are to succeed in the Championship and regain their Premier League status, this player could be an integral part of that team. If only I was a scout.

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Molly Jennens

I'm Molly Jennens and I am an aspiring football journalist. Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoy it.

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