Aston Villa supporters in the Transfer Tavern are gearing up for the final Championship game of the season against Millwall on Sunday, knowing that their place in the end of season play-off lottery is safe.
Steve Bruce’s men drew 1-1 at home with fellow promotion contenders Derby County last weekend to move to 83 points from their 45 league games, thus slipping six points behind second place Cardiff City to end their slim automatic promotion hopes. And given they are five points behind third place Fulham and eight clear of fifth place Middlesbrough, fourth place is theirs this season regardless of their result at the Den on Sunday, although they will certainly be keeping an eye on games involving Boro and Derby, as those results will decide who the Villans face in the play-offs later this month.
Consequently, there have been many satisfied Villa fans in the Tavern in the last few days, several of whom are eagerly anticipating the play-offs, although they will be hoping they go in off the back of a win by beating Neil Harris’ Millwall on Sunday.
In the meantime though, there has been much for our resident Villans supporters to get their teeth into, not least recent reports linking their club with a move for West Brom midfielder Gareth Barry this summer, should they indeed win promotion to the Premier League.
And while the 37-year-old would likely be a good addition to Bruce’s squad, they should forget about a move for the midfielder, and instead target his £9 million-rated Baggies teammate Jay Rodriguez (as per Transfermarkt) this summer.
Ultimately, while Barry will bring vast amounts of experience to an already relatively experienced Villa team, at the age of 37 his best days are almost certainly behind him, and as such it’s questionable what impact he would have in the top-flight next season.
Whereas Rodriguez would be the sort of goal-scorer every side seeking to stay up would want in their squad, having proven his worth during stints at West Brom and indeed Southampton.
The one-time England international bagged 26 goals in 104 Premier League appearances for the Saints between 2012 and 2017, with a nasty knee injury forcing him to miss a chunk of action in the middle of those years, before he moved to the Hawthorns last summer in a bid to bolster their front line.
And while the Baggies look set to go down this season, Rodriguez has again proven his worth with 11 goals in 38 games in all competitions for the Midlands outfit, the sort of return that wouldn’t go amiss at Villa next time round.
While their overall goal tally is pretty strong, having scored 72 goals in 45 Championship games this season, just two players in Albert Adomah and Conor Hourihane have reached double figures.
And while the likes of Scott Hogan and Lewis Grabban have nine and eight respectively, the Villans will need someone to go on and go deep into the teens next term if they are to indeed to remain in the top-flight – Rodriguez could be that man.
Ultimately, that lengthy time out with injury doesn’t appear to have hindered the 28-year-old too greatly based on his efforts in the past few seasons, and with proven ability in scoring goals in the Premier League, Bruce’s side should forget about Barry and target the striker instead.
Villa fans… what do you think? Let us know!