Premier League previews - Aston Villa 4 years ago

Premier League previews - Aston Villa

Manager: Paul Lambert

Last season: 15th.

Major signings: Philippe Senderos (free, Valencia), Joe Cole (free, West Ham), Kieran Richardson (undisclosed, Fulham).

Players out: Marc Albrighton (free, Leicester City), Jordan Bowery (undisclosed, Rotherham), Nicklas Helenius (loan, Aalbord), Yacouba Sylla (loan, Erciyesspor), Andras Stieber (free, Gyori ETO), Nathan Delfouneso, Aidan Grant (released).

Expectations? Not good.

There's a reason Paul Lambert is one of the early favourites to be the first Premier League manager to be sacked. Villa were rotten last season, as unappealing to the eye as they'd ever been under Alex McLeish, and they weren't helped by an off form and then injured Christian Benteke failing to produce his form from 2012/13.

The club is up for sale and has the stench of not much happening until Randy Lerner can wash his hands of it, and Villa are shopping in the hardly-a-bargain basement as a result.

Cole (Joseph), Senderos and Richardson will not inspire even a flicker of confidence that Villa can improve on just 39 goals scored last term and the worst goal difference (-22) outside of the three relegated clubs.

Roy Keane's appointment as assistant manager may have made the headlines over here, but it's a role that won't allow the Corkman to make the difference required to turn one of the most uninspiring sides in the Premier League away from mediocrity.

An injury free and fully fit Benteke is Villa's only hope of salvation and fans of the Birmingham side will hope that he can inspire those around him, particularly Andi Weimann - so listless last season - to form a side that's much better than the sum of its rusty parts.

It's a bit of a reach though.

Irish angle... The green force is strong with these ones. As well as the addition of Keane to the backroom staff, Shay Given remains on the books as back-up to Brad Guzan (though we wouldn't be surprised if he moved on). Ciaran Clark is an established member of the first team squad, with Samir Carruthers likely to be sent out on loan once again.

Perhaps the most interesting character from an Irish point of view is Jack Grealish, who made his debut late last season after a successful spell with Notts County. The young playmaker is a terrific talent, and hopefully Martin O'Neill will tie him down by calling him up for the forthcoming Euro 2016 qualifying campaign.

If they were a fictional character... they'd be Mike Ehrmantraut, a former powerhouse left gasping for breath on a river bank.

Where will they end up? Just avoiding relegation... Wash, rinse, repeat the following season.