Aston Villa: Delph staying can’t overshadow the numerous negatives

Even if Fabian Delph had left for Manchester City for £8 million, as was discussed as a near-certainty on Friday, Aston Villa would have been reasonably grateful, as he ensured that they wouldn’t lose him for nothing by signing a contract extension in January.

The fact that he took it even further and actually turned down the chance to join the outstanding Premier League performers of the past five years and play in the Champions League was justifiably the cause of much excitement.

However, while he is clearly one of their best players and a current England international, it is important for Villa fans and staff to remember that it doesn’t really change everything.

As good as the midfielder is, he was a regular in all of the past three seasons as they finished 15th, 15th and 17th, progressively getting worse, so he alone doesn’t have the ability to revive the club.

Assistant manager Ray Wilkins predictably described the 25-year-old’s decision as being “like we’ve got a new player”, but in reality it is genuine new signings that they need.

The goalkeeper who ended 2014/15 as first choice, Shay Given, moved to Stoke, senior defender Ron Vlaar is seemingly Lazio-bound, loan star Tom Cleverley opted to link up with Everton when his Manchester United contract expired and chief source of goals Christian Benteke is [1.15] to exit.

That is an entire spine of a side that wasn’t that wasn’t very good to start with – the worst of last term’s 17 survivors according to the eternally honest league table.

Micah Richards has the potential to prove a shrewd free capture, albeit he has never played regularly at the centre-back position that he has earmarked and has been bench-warming for three years.

The only other outfield addition who wasn’t there on loan is Idrissa Gueye from Lille, but recent Villa recruits from France haven’t had a long lifespan, namely Jean Makoun and Yacouba Sylla.

Another worry is Tim Sherwood’s revelation that he believes the prospect of a takeover this summer to be dead, which is likely to limit the ambition of their transfer campaign for the rest of the window.

The difference between Villa when Randy Lerner was enthused (three successive top-six finishes) and since he lost interest (the persistent, bordering on lecherous, flirtation with relegation) is seismic.

As if fretting over the quality of players, the expectation of more outgoings than incomings and the lack of leadership from the top isn’t enough, the operation is headed up by Sherwood, who is still a rookie boss, with this his first pre-season as a manager and first experience overhauling a squad.

History suggests that they will find a way about swerve the drop even if another season of struggle unfolds, yet [5.1] looks like an unduly weighty price on them going down.