Unai Emery lack of faith in Aston Villa academy continues as goalkeeper decision confirmed
One of the many questions pursed on Aston Villa supporters’ lips over the past month has been why Unai Emery has decided to play two goalkeepers on his bench each week, despite the wealth of talent at Bodymoor Heath.
Since the January transfer window, when players who were deemed surplus to requirements at Villa Park, such as Danny Ings, Marvelous Nakamaba and Morgan Sanson were cut loose by the club, the match-day squad has been taken down to its bare bones.
However, in the Premier League games that have followed the winter window, Emery has still decided to play two goalkeepers on his bench instead of dipping into the academy’s reserves and providing an opportunity for one of the club’s rising stars.
Players within the academy will now be thinking to themselves what they have to do to earn the opportunity for first-team exposure, and will surely be frustrated at the Spaniard’s insistence on playing the extra goalkeeper in his squad.
When questioned in his press conference before Aston Villa’s clash against Crystal Palace (Saturday, 4 March) about his insistence on playing two keepers on the bench, Emery hinted that this strange decision would be continuing for the meantime.
As reported by Birmingham Live (3 March), the Spaniard replied: “Robin Olsen will be back tomorrow and we will take a third goalkeeper to help us with the warm-up on the pitch before the match.
“Really… I think we have enough players within the squad to take our performances. I am confident with the players we have and I don’t want more.”
Is the reason Emery is naming a third goalkeeper in his match day squad really to help with some pre-match drills? If this is the case, it’s slightly deluded thinking.
Aston Villa has a rich history of bringing players through its academy, but if the manager isn’t willing to give them a chance, what’s the point in investing so much time and money into Bodymoor Heath?
In recent weeks, Tony Carss’ Under-21s side have been in blistering form after winning four of their last five Premier League 2 matches, and several attackers can’t stop finding the back of the net right now.
The likes of Arjan Raikhy, Kaine Kesler-Hayden and Kadan Young have all featured in first-team training at points this season but for some reason or another aren’t being given any match day exposure.
It isn’t as if these youngsters would even have to play a significant role for fans to be happy, but just seeing their names on the team sheet would be a sign of progress.
Although Emery has instilled a buoyant atmosphere at Villa Park since taking the reins earlier this season, he needs to be careful he doesn’t ostracise the next generation of Aston Villa stars.
In other Aston Villa news, one of the club’s rising stars can end a barren academy run going back to Jack Grealish.