When Aston Villa got relegated from the Premier League in 2016 they needed a character to spearhead the resurgence in the Championship the next season.
So the Villans looked no further than Bournemouth’s Tommy Elphick. The centre-back was Roberto Di Matteo’s first signing of the summer and it was one which was met with mutual jubilation from all Villa fans.
The defender had been a mainstay for Bournemouth whilst in the Championship, captaining them to promotion. He had just spent a season in the Premier League but perhaps did not play as much as he would have liked so made the £3m move to Villa Park.
Villa fans were hoping that the defender would have the same impact at their club as he did with The Cherries and be immortalised as the captain who guides them back to the Premier League.
This is what the fans had to say:
WERE GONNA WIN THE LEAGUE
— MB (@MattyAVFC_) June 20, 2016
exactly what a villa need in the #championship
— Glenn Cameron (@Therealdjbez) June 20, 2016
interesting signing, very much the kind of character and player we need to get back up straight away
— Me (@BuggieSmugglr) June 20, 2016
Welcome to Project Promotion Tommy. Give 110% each week and we’ll be right behind you.
— Andy Powell (@MrAndyPowell) June 20, 2016
— David Wainwright (@dwainwright1974) June 20, 2016
GET IN THERE WE'RE GONNA WIN THE LEAGUE
— dom (@dom_leadbetter) June 20, 2016
best news of the day
— James (@JamesTuzzio) June 20, 2016
— malcolm greaves (@malcolmgreaves1) June 20, 2016
surely a strong contender for captain…
— Casho76 (@CraigAshington) June 20, 2016
great signing welcome to the villa
— Trevor Newman (@NewmanTrnewman) June 20, 2016
It was a transfer that promised so much but delivered so little. The defender was made captain soon after his arrival at Villa Park and enjoyed a fair amount of success in the first few months, but an injury and the departure of Di Matteo saw the centre-back fall out of favour with new manager Steve Bruce. The remainder of the 2016/17 season was fairly uneventful for the defender and the next season did not bring much more as he was loaned to Reading in January.
The club were under financial trouble and therefore saw it best to unload of their unwanted players to free up their wage bill. With former England captain John Terry and James Chester occupying the defence at Villa Park, Elphick was certainly not at the forefront of Bruce’s plans last season.
After one game this season the defender moved on loan again to Hull as well. However, with Steve Bruce gone, there is a glimmer of hope for the player’s chances at Villa Park. Furthermore, with the crisis that Villa are experiencing with regards to their defence at the moment,it is surprising that they have not already called back the player.
This was going to be the man to bring lead Aston Villa back to the Premier League and fans can only look at the move with disappointment.