The unveiling of John Terry – in full kit, naturally – at Villa Park this week was one of the most surprising summer transfers. It was widely hailed by fans and pundits. His team-mates may be a bit twitchy, though.
Jokes aside, it is an impressive bit of business by Steve Bruce, the Villa coach. It’s not a bad move for Terry, either. Universally disliked by everyone except Chelsea fans, he now has added the sizeable Aston Villa following to his fanbase.
What Villa will get from Terry is organisation, commitment and a fine defender who is likely to find Championship football a breeze by comparison to the frenetic top flight. He will also demand they play with – and we hesitate to say this – passion.
Apologies. It is one of the most overused phrases in English football, just behind ‘they don’t want it enufff! (sic)’ or ‘no pride in the shirt!’. Villa will get that with Terry. He may not be particularly likeable but he sure as hell pulls everyone with him, kicking and screaming if necessary.
In that regard, despite tabloid revelations, he is pretty good for team spirit. Albeit in a childish, schoolboy way. The story was at Chelsea that any new recruit had to stand on a chair and sing a song in front of the squad. What japes.
Villa, though, could do with an old-fashioned kick up the backside. Last season, when they were fancied for an immediate return to the Premier League after relegation, they were, well, vanilla. There really wasn’t that much gumption or passion about them.
Too many players were coasting, taking it easy and taking the check. That attitude will no longer wash.
We expected them to really hit their straps after Bruce did some good work in the final transfer window but they had an apologetic end to the campaign, finishing 13th with one win in their last six just as they were about to put their foot down.
They had a disastrous run of nine games without a win between January and February which knocked the stuffing out of them. Would a man like Terry allow such a sequence to occur again? Not on your nelly.
Villa are +800 with BetCRIS to win the title, which makes them favourites. It is far from a dumb bet because, Terry aside, Bruce is an excellent manager at this level and has a fine record for getting teams up.