Aston Villa: 4 Areas That the Villains Need to Improve This Summer
It has been the second season of disappointing football for Aston Villa fans.
With just 33 points so far, the Birmingham club lie in 15th, just 10 points above the relegation zone.
This is the same team that finished sixth just two seasons ago.
So what needs to change at Villa Park for the team to climb the table once more?
Here are four areas of the squad that need to be strengthened over the summer.
Clearly money is tighter at the club than it used to be, so it is not feasible to improve all of the areas, but just some of them will help the club to avoid the danger of a relegation scrap next season.
Are there other areas of the team that need improvement? Comment below.
Aston Villa really missed out in January when Hoffenheim midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson moved to Swansea on loan.
Sigurdsson is the perfect fit for Aston Villa, who are in desperate need of a midfielder who can add a goal threat. In his first season at Hoffenheim, Sigurdsson netted 15 times. Since he has joined Swansea, he has scored five goals in nine games.
Villa are still in need of a midfielder who can get forward and score goals, as well as supplying the front men.
The club missed a trick by not moving for him in January, as his form for Swansea has alerted bigger clubs about his talent.
If he is not available, then Villa could look at other options. AZ Alkmaar's Rasmus Elm is a similar player to Sigurdsson. Although when The Daily Mail linked Elm to a January move to Manchester United, the £13 million price tag mentioned may put Randy Lerner off.
The injury to Darren Bent this year has shown that Villa need more depth up front.
The club may be tempted to offer a contract extension to Emile Heskey, whose contract runs out this summer. While the former England international does give his all for the team, he is not the man to be taking the club forwards.
The team has plenty of pace up front with Darren Bent, Gabby Agbonlahor and Nathan Delfouneso. What is needed is a player who can hold up the ball and bring other players into the game.
All too often this season, Villa strikers have cut lonely figures on their own up front, unable to get into the game.
A player who could remedy this would be SC Heerenveen's Bas Dost. The 6'4" Dutchman has scored 22 goals in just 18 games this season.
If funds are tight, then another option would be Chelsea's Romelu Lukaku. The Belgian is a powerful presence up front who could give Villa somebody to aim at.
He has not featured much for Chelsea this season, only being involved in 10 games. This means that he could be available for loan this summer.
If that is the case, then Villa should do everything they can to sign him.
In the centre of defence, the priority should not be to sign a new player, rather to ensure that Carlos Cuellar signs a new deal at the club.
The injuries to James Collins and Richard Dunne have shown the need for Cuellar at the club.
The versatility he has to play across the back four is invaluable.
Whatever the reason may be for him not being offered a deal yet, there will be a host of teams lining up to take him if Villa don't.
The form that Cuellar has shown recently suggests that he should be considered ahead of one of Dunne or Collins when they do return.
The thing that Villa squads have lacked traditionally is depth. The club shouldn't be voluntarily making that situation worse.
While I am generally against the knee-jerk sackings of managers, from day one Alex McLeish has been a horrible fit at Villa Park.
The fans have not taken to him. This is not just due to the obvious Birmingham City connection, but most of all for the turgid football that the team has been playing.
Bringing in a manager that values defensive football may have seemed like a safe investment for Randy Lerner, but it really hasn't paid off.
Villa should be looking to a more forward-thinking manager like Southampton's Nigel Adkins or a rising young European manager like Thomas Tuchel of Mainz.