These players were all involved in a real and fake match last weekend. - Alex Livesey
We now return to a world where Aston Villa is not only owned by an American idiot (just kidding Randy, you know I love you) but is also managed by one. With the league matches about to get underway, how will Aston Villa fare? Stick with me as I navigate my way through what's sure to be a difficult journey.
The fixture gods have presented Villa with just about the worst first match they could hope for: Manchester City at the Etihad. Making this more fun is that I played out this match while watching the real Aston Villa get smoked in the same venue. More on that in a moment.
In the lead up to the first match there are a few moves of note to mention. Young defender Dan Devine was sent off on loan to Torquay United. Ron Vlaar was named captain and Richard Dunne, who is still injured, was named vice captain. Shay Given announced his retirement from international competition and Villa drew Oldham Athletic at home in their first Capital One Cup match.
While the trying to grow the scouting network I was ever searching for players that I could bring in on the cheap as there wasn't much of a transfer budget to start with. One of the players that chief scout Michael Henke found is young Italian center back Matteo Darmian. At age 22 and valued at 775k he'd be a nice player to bring in and rotate in and out of the squad while he develops, hopefully into a solid Premier League player. I put in a bid which was leaked by someone in the backroom staff and I was warned that interest in the player would increase as a result. I told the press that Darmian needed to move away from Torino (his current club) to realize his potential and unlike my similar attempt with Douglas it appeared to work on Darmian. I upped my bid to 825k but it was still denied as Torino sought 1.2 million. It was then that I realized he was co-owned by Torino and Palermo and both clubs would have to accept a bid to buy him. I realized I hate Italian football and said the hell with it.
In news that I missed, Gareth Bale was bought by Manchester United for 25.5 million pounds. Wonderful. Also Daniel Johnson, exciting young midfielder at Villa, was loaned out to Coventry City while Derrick Williams went on loan to Rochdale both for five months.
Match Day 1: Manchester City v Aston Villa
Here are your lineups. We aren't favorites for this match and the writer for Kick! apparently thinks it's down to me having no experience when it's actually because Man City is a superior club in every possible way. Looking at the lineups you'll notice that City now have Leighton Baines. Crap.
As you can guess the match fared better than real life Villa's did. They only lost 4-0. Joe Hart made some great saves when it was already 3-0 but Villa never really had a chance and was dominated from the start. My career was not off to the brightest of starts.
In the midweek, we began examining the transfer market again. Reader and Fake Aston Villa fan Tom suggested a couple of names: Jores Okore, center back from Nordsjaelland and Asier Illarramendi from Real Sociedad. Okore had already been bought by Newcastle so he was out. However, Illarramendi was still out there and he looked like a really nice player. My scouts took a look and agreed. Real Sociedad ended up requesting six million pounds. I got creative and lowered the wage budget, thereby increasing the transfer kitty, as well as offering installments on the transfer bid and it was accepted. I offered the player 31.5k a week and now we just had to hope he would accept.
Soon after, Illarramendi accepted my bid and was officially and Aston Villa player. The media hailed the signing as a coup of sorts but a few players in the squad immediately voiced their concerns. They wanted to know if they were still in my plans. I spoke to them individually to try and ease their minds. Ashley Westwood (who I have a crush on) and Gary Gardner both seemed reassured by our chats. Chris Herd, on the other hand, threw a pity party in my office and then continued that party by blabbing to the press that he was being frozen out. Sorry Chris, but it's a better club with Asier, at least on paper.
Match Day 2: Aston Villa v Arsenal
Here are your lineups. Surprisingly Villa are once again not expected to win. You'll notice that Arsenal made a splash in purchasing Diego Perotti from Sevilla for a whopping 22M pounds. That's not very Arsenal, is it? All the same it is very frightening. The match is cruising along with Arsenal holding a slight edge in play when in the 35th minute Matt Lowton picks up his second yellow and Villa goes down a man. The first 120 minutes of my career have been abysmal.
Trying to keep their heads above water isn't being helped by Barry Bannan who has killed a couple of solid buildups with stupid, lazy giveaways. I decide to take him off and move Lichaj to right back while putting N'Zogbia at left back to hopefully give us a chance on a counter. Benteke moved behind Weimann up front while Holman and Ireland man the wings. Asier moves to a defensive central midfield role. I'm trying to piece something, anything together to salvage this match.
Two minutes later Santi Cazorla gives Arsenal a 1-0 lead. With a minute before half time, Andi Weimann gets through on goal and sends the ball wide. Heads drop around Villa Park. Aaron Ramsey makes it 2-0 in the second half and Villa never threatened. Misery abounds.
There are just a few days until the Capital One Cup tie vs. Oldham and it gives me the chance to give the players some much needed confidence after inspiring nothing but projectile vomiting in the first two matches.
Capital One Cup: Aston Villa v Oldham Athletic
Here are your lineups. I'm sticking with the diamond midfield and two strikers for now as I want to get Bent and Benteke untracked. Remember there has not been a goal yet from our heroes. 90 minutes later and that status would not change. In a shocker, Oldham ran out 2-0 winners at Villa Park in front of a miserable, angry crowd. The players didn't seem to care about this match at all. Even the hair dryer treatment at half time didn't work. This American looks to be in over his head. So I did what any manager would do in this situation: I gave a ridiculous press conference.
Stay tuned for the next update where Villa go through the closing of the summer transfer window. You'll also find out if Villa finally gets their first goal of the season. It's been a ridiculous, tumultuous start at Fake Aston Villa. How long will it last? Will the board sack me before I even score? Aren't you all excited that even in video games Aston Villa makes you want to tear your hair out and light it on fire? Stick with me - it's going to get even more interesting.