The signings of Ollie Watkins and Ross Barkley this summer were nothing short of ‘inspirational’ for Aston Villa, according to former England manager Steve McClaren.
Steve McClaren said “The additions of Watkins and Barkley has been inspirational. I think the key was the Liverpool game. The fitness levels of the players, they are now playing at an intensity to get that ball back and win that ball a little higher than they did last season. They were winning the ball in the wrong box, now they are winning the ball in the middle of the field and they have got such speed on the transition. The relationship between [Jack] Grealish and Barkley has been incredible. They didn’t have that last season, they didn’t have any runners or any legs in midfield. They have that now. And they have Watkins as a target.”
McClaren also praised Tyrone Mings and Ezri Konsa, whose blossoming partnership in the heart of defence has helped Villa record three clean sheets from their first four top-flight matches ahead of Friday’s clash against Leeds United.
Steve McClaren said said “Everything has been built on foundations,” said McClaren. “Mings was an inspired signing in the Championship. He helped them to the Premier League. Those two [Mings and Konsa] working as a partnership has been incredible. They are a good team now and a team you don’t want to play against because they can defend well.”
The pair were among five new additions to Dean Smith’s squad during the transfer window, with Matty Cash, Emiliano Martinez and Bertrand Traore also joining the club. Both have already underlined positions as vital players during Villa’s incredible 100 per cent start to the Premier League season. £28million striker Watkins scored a hat-trick in the 7-2 victory against Liverpool before the international break and Barkley took his tally to two goals in as many matches since arriving on loan from Chelsea with a late winner against Leicester City on Sunday.
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