Aston Villa boss Unai Emery has reiterated that he’s happy with his squad and has no regrets over not strengthening further in the January transfer window.
While Villa have regularly named two goalkeepers on the bench in recent months, we’re also now at a point where we may well struggle to fill the entire allocation given the absentees currently out due to injury.
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Boubacar Kamara, Leander Dendoncker and Philippe Coutinho are sidelined again as we prepare to face Bournemouth on Saturday, and so the expectation is that we could struggle to fill the bench, while there will most likely be two shot-stoppers named on the sidelines once again.
However, Emery was asked about the depth in his squad, and the Spaniard has insisted that he’s happy with the options at his disposal, explaining that he doesn’t necessarily want too many at this stage of the process, given our only competitive involvement is in the Premier League having dropped out of both cup competitions early.
“Yes, I’m OK with it,” Emery told the media, as per BirminghamLive. “It will be the same [against Bournemouth]. We have 16 players and three goalkeepers, two on the bench. We have six on the bench. It’s enough. We have now three players injured; Dendoncker, Coutinho, Kamara, and Carlos is coming back. He will play progressively. At the beginning he will train with the team.
“It’s enough but, of course, the idea is progressively, in one year, when we are starting to play Premier League, Carabao Cup, FA Cup and, of course, hopefully in the future, Europe, we have to take more players in the squad for some circumstances during the year. But not during this moment, not yet.
“I don’t have regrets. No, not really because we were very, very clear inside. We only added players thinking to improve the squad or the team but not being in a hurry to do something, rather than really adding someone who will not improve the squad like I want.
“We had three players (Moreno, Duran, Traore) in January and I am happy. There was a different situation with each one. The best quality was to respect the players we have now and give them the opportunity to improve and show his progress in the squad.
“We finished the two cups and we weren’t playing in Europe and we only had the Premier League. It’s enough for what we have.”
In fairness, Emery’s reasoning is sound, as with only the league to consider, it was important to go for quality over quantity and not have unhappy players not being able to get a look in and potentially upsetting the balance and mentality of the group.
Further, he’s spot on about only wanting to sign players who significantly improve the squad, as that’s an approach and mindset that will hopefully raise the level of the group and help us compete where we want to be in terms of higher up the Premier League standings and for trophies.
The expectation is that Emery will be heavily backed this summer to mould the squad into his own, and having made no secret of his desire to win trophies, we’ll hope to enjoy deep cup runs along with our league commitments next season, and so we will certainly need depth and rotation as we also aim for a return to Europe.
Nevertheless, perhaps one questionable decision from the Villa boss is not involving our youth players more heavily in the senior matchday squad. Provided it doesn’t impact their progression and minutes at youth level, giving them that experience and having alternative options on the bench could be a good thing, but it’s clear that Emery is happy with those available to him and he doesn’t regret not doing more in January.