Aston Villa have made their first signing for next season with Australian Brett Holman joining from Dutch side AZ Alkmaar.
The winger was out of contract in the summer so was allowed to speak to other clubs and the player stated himself that he knew all about Villa’s history and this is why he wanted to join the club. It is a signal of intent from Alex McLeish that he believes that the club will stay in the Premier League or he would not want to sign new players for the new season if he did not know which division they were playing in. Although he is not the biggest name in world football and he may not excite the Villa fans as much as a few other names that are usually thrown around in the summer, Holman is a very consistent player and always chips in with goals and assists.
This season could prove to be his best yet in Holland with him already scoring six goals and contributing another nine assists. He has played in Holland for quite a long time now and was originally brought over by Feyenoord but did not play a game for the club and was loaned out to Excelsior where he finally started to make an impact, although this was in the second tier, he was starting to make a name for himself. He then continued to progress when he joined NEC Nijmegen, scoring 15 goals in the two seasons he was at the club which is pretty good for a winger.
He is currently at AZ Alkmaar and won the league with them in 2009. Every season he has been at the club he has got better and better and they were trying to persuade him to stay for longer but the lure of English football was too strong for him. He also has 53 caps for Australia scoring eight goals.
Now the question is will he succeed in England? A lot of the players we see coming from Holland are strikers and they have had a mixed time of playing in English football. Starting with Ruud Van Nistelrooy who was fantastic and in my opinion if he had stayed at Manchester United for the rest of his career would have come close to becoming the all time top scorer in the Premier League. However, there have been some expensive flops, the one that springs to mind the most is Afonso Alves who scored 47 goals in just 39 games for Dutch team Heerenveen. He then joined Middlesbrough and was very poor only scoring 10 league goals in his two years at the club. In his defence when he first signed he did look very promising as he scored six goals in his first 11 league games but then faded away and was very poor afterwards.
Two others that have not exactly failed in England but haven’t exactly hit the heights are Dirk Kuyt and Luis Suarez. Both were fantastic goal scorers but know Kuyt is seen more as a wide player and gets his fair share from that position but not enough for a striker. Suarez has looked pretty good but yet again has not added the goals to his performances.
So it will be interesting to see how Holman adapts to the Premier League but he may not be the flamboyant player the fans wanted to see and definitely feels like an Alex McLeish signing. Someone that has a high work rate and will try and cover every blade of grass and maybe what Villa need is someone that is going to unlock a defence when the game is tight which has cost them a few times this season.